Friday, October 2, 2009

VARIANTS AND TYPES great, more things to think about!

Since we began publishing the blog in Jan.,  variations of certain bottles have been identifed and have become popular with collectors.   The differences in these bottles have been known to advanced collectors for some time,  and I think it might be time to put some sort of nomenclature together for identifing these bottle for collectors that might be confused by the slang or terminology used by us oldtimers.  The slang will never go away,  I frankly hope that it never completely dissappears,  but there are a couple of bottles that need to be identified by variation or maybe type.  (type1) (type2) if you will.

By default,  I guess, we are using John Thomas' book Whiskey Bottles of the Old West as our standard work.  I don't think there is an argument for using any other current book for discussion of glob top fifths or flasks.  They are all right there in Thomas' book,  organized, with numbers, etc....  pretty easy to follow along.  There is confusion with several bottles,  particularly J.F. Cutter Star/Shield (t-46)  and the assorted J.H. Cutter (t-44) bottles.  Thomas has 4 variants of the Star/Shield (t-46).  He calls them Var. 1 thru Var. 4.   On the J.H. Cutter (t-44) they are listed as 44A, 44B, 44C. 
A quick look through the book and I could only find one instance where numbers were used to identify variants, the (t-46).  All other bottles with noted variants used a letter A, B, C, to identify examples.

I propose that we use the lettering system to identify the Star/Shield (t-46) variations.  We are having trouble with that var.1, 2, 3  thing as it is!
How about:
J.F. Cutter (t-46A)(type1)  =  pointed A, "Fatboy"
J.F. Cutter (t-46A)(type2)  =  pointed A
J.F. Cutter (t-46B)             =   flat A
J.F. Cutter (t-46C)             =   curved R's,  X on base

No, I don't plan on a recall of all copies of Thomas' book for a rewrite,  and I really hate to make any changes to the numbering system for identification.   Maybe we can do an addendum (1 or 2 page insert) to Thomas book with a list of variants and types as collectors have identified them to us.

My friend, Warren Friedrich, got me thinking as to what determines a variant for a particular bottle, and what is just a manufacturing whim or glassblowers tool choice. (type of top)

What say you??   I guess in my thinking, a new mold or major mold alteration would be a variant.
A different style of top, (lipping tool choice) or a minor mold change would be a type.  ie - Millers flask single collar -type1, double collar on. 
Jesse Moore fifth  non vented - type1;  vented - type2
O.K. Cutter (t-41)   light slug, older look - type1;  heavy slug, different base - type2

It takes a long time for terminology to change or become mainstream in the hobby.  (I guess it didn't take long for Fat Boy?)   After reading this,  everyone stand down, stay calm,  put your gun back in the holster,  just write 'um up the way you're used to.  But if you see some new terms or phrases showing up in bottle descriptions,  you know who to blame...


  1. I dunno, not bein a whiskey expert an all, but have been collectin bottles for forty years, I think Thomases book is just great, why go an futz things up more an they are...just my 2 cents worth.......Andy

  2. I actually am open to the idea of refining the types, and variants. As the decades have passed since Thomas's research, we are finding subtle, yet important differences in whiskey bottles. It is very clear that a J.F. is not a J.F. is not a J.F. etc.. The differences in other bottle catagories like historical and commemorative flasks have been refined to McKearin numbers that I will never understand, yet each is significant in it's own right. Extremely small mold variations, and differences in embossing make the study of these bottles even more rewarding to a least it does to me. I never stop learning something about bottles. I love that. M.E.

  3. Although the slang definitions for many things pertaining to western bottles and digging has been around for quite some time, and I hope that it remains, it is time for a change to the long accepted T- Numerical system. Your suggestion of an Alphabetical identifier to augment Thomas' numbers has definite merit. Definite mold variations, but not those resulting from the whims of individual glassblowers, need to be included and described where needed.

  4. I agree with Roger's thinking as well. Some type of differentiation is needed when an exciting nuance in a new find of a known bottle comes to light. If a standardization of some well chosen terms is used by advanced collectors I think the bottle world could accept that.

  5. extremely small mold differences, and possibly small differences in lettering could happen to a more common bottle, to make it appear more less common, though it only meant that the mold was wearing out and the bottle wasnt made as well as the first one in its edition, how would one assign importance to that happening, or if not very many of the worn out mold bottles were discovered, how would we define the implied value of "hey its different"" and its mine and there may not be any more of them to be found and lets include it as a different variation of this more common edition of this same bottle. But the change that Sole Agent is proposing for differences that are well documented should be okay.....geeeeez bottles are gettin complicated guys, but maybe we should change some of the old standards a bit anyways, did this make any sense? just an opinion once again.......Andy

  6. Although Thomas' book is right at the top of my favorites in terms of bottle books, it is quite frankly, far less than God-inspired...There are already things that could be edited, updated, and added to go above and beyond the current edition.

    Now does that mean that Thomas' book is a living and breathing document in which there should be an addendum written??? Perhaps....Maybe there could be a type of online addendum via this whiskey blog?


    Should there be entirely new and different books written about Western Whiskeys???

    My utopian idea for future Whiskey-related books might just include a few of the following book idea proposals and involve a few of the following authors:

    "Cutter and Cutter-Related Whiskey Bottles" (A book dedicated 100% to Cutters: J.F.'s, Moorman's, Millers, E. Martin, Hotaling, Glob tops, tooled tops, variations, colors, LOTS & LOTS of Colored pictures, Cutter History, etc.) Perhaps this effort could be spearheaded by this blog's fearless leader Mr. Terry and some of the major contributors could be the likes of: Quinn, Siri, and Dolcini....Just a thought fellas!

    Flasks of the Old West: Wasn't Ralph working on this already or was that just for Pumpkin Seeds? My idea of this book would cover all Western flasks. How about a team of authors including but not limited to: Van Brocklin, Lawson, and Mlasko. More food for thought...

    "A History of Whiskey in the Wild West" A number of people could launch into this realm and it could be taken a number of different ways....

    At the very least, I like the idea of standardizing some of the major and minor variations of the Western whiskeys. This effort would hopefully play into not only a better understanding of the rarity, age, and value of these early glass containers; but I believe this would also spur on much curiosity, increased interest, more questions, and further needed research into related areas such as the S.F. glass houses and manufacturing techniques, as well as the locality and distributiion for these brands of bourbon. i think we need to convince Warren to turn his efforts from the early Western Bitters to the early Western Whiskeys -- haha!

    This sure is fun ain't it!


  7. Points well taken. We will see a similar modification to the reference numbering when Western Whiskey Bottles (WWB) 5th edition is published. Bob's numbering system has served the hobby well since the 4th edition was published in 1997. In fact, most collectors of both tooled and glops inventory their collection using WWB's nomenclature (as well as glops dual referencing Thomas).

    The problem with new editions that include "newly discovered" variants is that the inevitable renumbering causes grief for those collectors with more than just a handful of whiskies. It also results in a situation akin to speaking in tongues when one collector references the 4th edition while another references the 5th during a conversation. After an at length conversation with another well known bottle book author, we have opted to insert decimals in between the numbering system in the 5th edition. An example would be a recently unknown variant of the E.A. Fargo that had previously been believed to exist as a tool top bottle only. The tooled variant is #288. The "new" glop top listing will be #288.1. In the event of the discovery of a previously undocumented and unrelated bottle will result in it being inserted in the middle of a numbering sequence to allow for further insertions. Case in point would be the Golden and Co. / #332 and the Golden Eagle / #333. A "Golden Bear" is discovered and would receive #332.5 as it's designation. This seems to be the easiest and least detrimental way to introduce and reference new discoveries without reinventing the wheel.


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