Monday, September 7, 2009

"I don't get no respect"

J. H Cutter Old Bourbon / Bottled by A.P. Hotaling: The Rodney Dangerfield of glop tops.

Face it, ya gotta start somewhere. Not all collectors can break the ice of western whiskey globby collecting with a Clubhouse... Sure, some of us were lucky enough to have gotten in on the ground floor before stuff went goofy. My first glop, a Tea Kettle the color of Herseys dark chocolate, cost me a whopping hundred dollar bill back in the early seventies. It was hammered to death with whittle and ranks as one of the most attractive TK's that I've had the privilege to care take. Trouble is, earning power is down and prices for prime examples of western whiskies are up, way up. I've had that same Tea Kettle on four different occasions; each time the price of admission went up and up. It last sold in 2005 for $1500~.

Which brings me back to the J. H. Cutter / Bottled By which, in my opinion, is one of the best values out there in globby land. Sure they're common as chicken beaks compared to most glops and yet they possess loads of character in many cases and are available in a myriad of colors. We've recently seen a surge in interest with the JHC / Sole Agents and maybe it's time for the "Bottled By" to come into it's own. I've got around a dozen Bottled By glops right now and, at the risk of being laughed at, thought it would be fun to do a blurb on the bottle.

Sole Agents, up until a few months ago, could be had for comparative peanuts. Their value had held pretty much status quo for years. We've sold ten Sole Agents in the past three years with an average price of $145~, including one on the April list for $165~, which was the highest price ever. So what happened? The supply hasn't differed, (there are just about as many around now as there were 10 years ago) nor has the quality of the bottles offered. Simply, it was demand. All of a sudden, collectors discovered what a buy the Sole Agents was; crude, early and with lots going for them. And prices rose according to the demand with the non
(A No. 1) examples now bringing crazy dollars and the A No. 1 variants becoming a close runner up.

Hotaling first introduced the Bottled By variant in the mid 80's. The glassworks that produced the bottle employed the latest techniques, including air venting, and as a result, they are generally not as crude as it's predecessor, the Sole Agent. Still, there is plenty of eye appeal to go around and I've seen a myriad of them with whittle to die for and spillover that slops nearly 1/2" down the neck; just the things we look for. And then there's colors; everything from root beer brown to lollipop yellow and from deep red to brilliant orange ambers. Ok, so there's probably a few hundred to go around. Supply and demand dictates price, but not necessarily value. And that's where I stop to ponder. How come these critters are still selling in the $50~ - $75~ range? That's one heckuva value!

I shot photos of a bakers half dozen. Oddly enough, when I compared each bottle, they appeared to me to be from the same mold. Obviously from different batches of glass, and the tops were applied and finished with different tools and by different craftsmen, but yet the embossing is eerily identical. Spacing, font, letter placement and alignment, all apparently an exact clone. Maybe some of you folks out there with a better trained eye than I can spot the differences. One thing that we all can agree on though, is that the J. H Cutter Old Bourbon / Bottled by A.P. Hotaling glop top is a great starter piece that is still affordable and can also be a key item in rounding out a line up of Cutters; even if
"It don't get no respect".


  1. Hey now, wait a minute! I resemble that, too. 'Ya gotta have a few Bottled Bys if you are a Cutter fan. Good show.

  2. I find it funny how hypocritical many of the 'old timers' are. They hound the young guys to go to the shows, support the hobby ECT, but in reality they are discouraging instead of encouraging them. Why they really want them to support the hobby appears to be a quite selfish motive; to make sure there is a market for their collections when the time comes to sell. If they truly cared about the young guys they would not offer them damaged bottles assuming we will not notice the difference, they would not try to convince them common bottles are rare, and they would not lie and misguide them about what is ABD and what isn't. WAKE UP, you’re shooting yourselves in the foot ! The young guys aren’t as na├»ve as you may think.

  3. What ever in the world prompted the reply by "Anonymous", accusing the "old timers" of being hypocrites is beyond me.. The Bottled By Cutter post was simply a fun write up about a common whiskey that still has it's place in the glop top collecting world.

    The vast majority of us that contribute to the glop top whiskey site do so out of a love for the hobby and a desire to share our knowledge with fellow collectors both young and old; not an agenda to swindle, lie, cheat or steal from those that are just entering the hobby. It takes a great deal of time and effort to put together a decent posting; time and effort expended without any financial upside. And I can assure you that in the vast majority of cases, it's also got absolutely nothing to do with insuring a ready market for our collections.

    And since you mentioned going to shows; I'd like to personally invite you to attend both Downieville and Canyonville in the coming weeks. They're both great shows for novice and longtime collectors alike.

  4. Anonymous, you're way-off base ! I wouldnt let a few bad ears of corn spoil the bourbon for ya'.... Furthermore, most of the "flash-in-the-pan" whiskey collectors already cashed-out and bailed long ago when they saw prices peak, and have moved on to whatever collectible they feel is more popular or cabbage-patchy. Like KY Gem stated, most whiskey collectors on this site are the real ones that love the whiskey bottles, history, and the hobby, and are in it for the long haul.... not for dollars. Sure,you're right there are a few sharks out there, but you will find some of those everywhere, even in church my friend.... We are only 'caretakers' of these glass bottles, and maybe some collectors simply would like to ensure their prized possessions are cared for and preserved by future generations after they point their boots towards the sky !

  5. Yep,
    If I had all the money I made collecting western whiskies I could probably buy a six pack of beer - maybe

  6. C'mon, g.o., you know that you can do better than that. At least a sixer of "40 dawgs" can be purchased from my globby sales. We all try to pour the profits from "dealings" in bottles back into the hobby, be it glass, paper, or tin. It's all good.

    I think that old "anonymous" has an "axe to grind" with some fool who took advantage of his young and trusting soul. Oh yeah, there are plenty of those vultures circling the arena, but most of us old fools still believe that the hobby is exactly that. It's a fun and very part time thing for me. In a few years, when I'm too old and weak to stick a probe in the ground, all this stuff lining the shelves and walls will be nothing but a way to re-live the "good old days". Stay at youngsters, it won't be long 'til you are in many of our shoes.

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  8. Anonymous you can't be serious but if you are then you may want to take a good look at yourself instead of blaming others for your own
    misfortune. Nobody I know of hounds young guys to go to a show nor twist their arm to buy anything or
    encourages people to collect so their bottles will be worth something in the long run, that's crazy.
    Anyone with an appreciation of history or old glass that holds a nice bottle can easily become hooked once introduced. I've turned more new collectors onto bottles by simply letting them see one and telling its story. Kentucky Gems informative well written article and pics were a nice addition to the post representing some affordable introductory 5ths in the Cutter line up. The reason we've seen an increase in these lower end bottles is plain and simple, it's supply & demand. Bottles are just not coming out of the ground like they did at one time so with this decrease in supply up goes the demand along with price among competing collectors. There are lots of new collectors out there looking for this stuff, it's a strong market and never a problem when it comes to selling any decent bottle. As far as digging goes do you really think someone who's after the same stuff as you is going to tell you where there's some non ABDs just so you can go dig them up and they can support the hobby, your bumping your head son. It ain't easy nor has it ever been when it comes to adding a good bottle to the collection. Most people just do not turn loose of anything real good unless they have to because it's just to dang hard to get, it's always been that way.
    If you rely on shows your somewhat limited because usually the good stuff never makes the tables and is often traded privately. Networking among collectors is key if your not a digger and want to keep adding good stuff to any kind of collection. If your a digger then it takes a lot of ambition, research and hard work to consistently dig the good stuff. Call my statements discouraging or what ever you like but call it a simple dose of reality and quite the whining.

  9. Well... we will see if they still bring jest $50.00 to 75 dollars....Downievilles jest aroun th corna ....see ya there .....Andy

  10. Wow, more banter on the whiskey site once again, huh? Some good points were raised by all.

    I'm sure all of us have been burned, cheated, lied to, or misgueded at least once in whiskey bottle dealings, whether we are a "rookie" or a "seasoned vet."

    Thanks to Kentucky Gem for the cool write up! I tend to disagree that now is the shining moment for the rise-in-price of the Bottled By Cutters....but this post will eventually yield a Nostradumus-esque self-fulfilling prophecy, as the Bottled-By's will most definitely follow an upward trend over the coming years. I've still seen the applied ones sitting on the show sales tables between $30-$75 each, and it seems they've sold anywhere between $30-$180 on ebay over thpast year or two (depending on character, color, condition, and seller). They are indeed a fun and affordable entry level fifth in any regard.

    I've been very pleased with about 90% percent of the folks in the hobby who I've bought or traded bottles with so far...A few unfortunate instances where the seller either outright lied or simply overlooked damage issues that were present on the bottle. Only one well known dealer who wanted to place blame on me when I promptly returned a scarce fifth upon a final buyer's inspection (after I noticed two obvious and concerning annealing checks). The seller had nothing to loose by playing it "dumb"....If I wouldn't have noticed the damage, he would have had a smooth-sailing transaction, right? But by refunding my money after I called out the damage issues, he still looks like an honest guy. I thought everything was fine until I heard he was all butt-hurt at the Pomona show. He might not sell another bottle to me now....but I really don't care. It is his loss to try and place blame on the buyer, when he is the one who was either being dishonest OR blind the whole time along.

    That experience to me, exemplified classic car-salesman-ship -- where the salesman stands in front of the dent on a used car so the buyer won't notice it. If the buyer never sees the damage, the salesman can't loose. If the buyer does find out about the damage, the salesam looks like a hero for taking care of the issue on the back-end of the sale. I think that is what anonymous was trying to get at with a real experience that he had...If I were him, I would have returned the bottle and likely never bought from the same dealer again. Anonymous has a right to be upset about being hoodwinked by a seller who should know better. We're talking abut a guy who would pick apart any would be purchase just to increase his bottom re-sale dollar. However, when the coin is flipped, all of the sudden it's a "Mint" bottle with "no" issues whatsoever....does this sound familiar to anyone else??


  11. My recent experience has left a bad taste in my mouth it nearly caused me to question the entire hobby for me. I actually pondered boycotting the hobby and not buying any whiskies for the next 10 years....even selling off most of my collection. I really don't care as much anymore. If anything, it's been a reality check. As soon as I begin to worship this stuff, that's when I know it's time to sell it. It's really all just stupid glass in the long run. I value frienship and acts of kindness way more than silly glass containers that were once the trash of 19th century drunkards....

    Guys like Jon L., Rick H., Ivan O., and Dale M. have all been great examples to me as a younger collector. And there are many, many more of you who are also a positive force within the hobby! If there weren't so many great people in the hobby, there would be no hobby at all....

    I wanted to point out one stand-up example of a whiskey guy -- Roger Terry. I bought a Star Shiled 5th a few years ago at the Reno show from Roger. Awhile later I found out the bottle had a nearly undetectable repaired top. Roger hadn't seen it either. Roger immediately refunded my money and apologized for the oversight. Fortunately he was able to return the bottle to the previous owner for his refund as well. Since then, I've confidently bought a few more bottles from Roger because of the stand-up way he treated me before. Roger may not have known it, but the first couple of applied top whiskies I ever bought were actually from him. Because he was forthright and honest, it has encouraged me to become a pretty serious collector of the Western Whiskies. Had he not been honest, there would literally be only 2 young guys instead of the current 3 who are serious about the Western Whiskies....

    Food for thought...


  12. Unfortunately I feel the same way Lance does and I also agree with most of what anonymous said, but I would limit the scope to a few, not many, of the old timers. As Lance noted there are many wonderful people in this hobby who have mentored and supported me through the years, but there are certainly a few bad apples. At last year’s Auburn show I was lucky enough to stumble upon a dealer unloading his boxes. I instantly spotted a killer example of a scarce 5th and asked how much. The dealer responded with a reasonable price so I then asked if there were any issues or damage on the bottle. He said no. I quickly looked over the bottle and then forked over the cash. Later on while showing off my purchase to my friends I noticed two annealing checks and one impact check on the body of the bottle. Doesn’t sound like mint to me ! Needless to say that was the first and last time I trusted any dealer on the condition of a bottle for sale. I now spend an inordinate amount of time inspecting bottles before purchasing and often surprise dealers by finding damage ‘they didn’t know was there’. So, like Lance I am a little turned off to buying 5ths at this point and thus am focusing my energy on digging which is apparently the only way I’m going to add certain 5ths to my shelf. All negativity aside, I must say I enjoy this blog greatly and really appreciate the dedicated contributors who are constantly providing us with fascinating material.

    Like AP said, I won’t let a few bad ears of corn spoil the bourbon for me !!


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