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".