Wednesday, February 24, 2010

If it looks like a duck~

You've heard the saying, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a ... duck.

And so if a glop top has a star on the base and those funky little curved legged "R"s it must be a San Francisco blown bottle, right? So, how come this whittled to death glop top Spruance with the star and the R is a blood red bottle that is now commonly referred to as a "German connection fifth"?

I don't profess to know, but have compared this one that just came in, along with two others in my collection and all bear identical anomalies. All have the star base and identical "R"s. The "hitch"  in the R isn't as overstated as say, a globby J.F. star shield, but it's there just the same. There is a substantial difference in height in one of them (one is an inch shorter than the other two, and no - it's not been chopped and re-glopped) and there's also a radical difference in color between all three (ranging from a dense oxblood red to a bloody orange depending on the bottle) but therein ends the dis-similarities.

It's obvious that they all came out of the same mold, although different glassblowers blew and finished them using noticably different batches of cullet.

German or S.F.? Comments? Quack, quack?

I've just omitted the lousiest photo from this post and I will post comparative photos tomorrow, showing smooth based and star based straight amber embossing comparisons. I'm not trying to prove or disprove anything, but do want to give everyone an opportunity to weigh in on this issue.


Comparative Photos:
As promised last evening, note the "R"s in the following photos.

Early Smooth Base glop - straight amber      

                                                            Livingston Gaines - glop
                                                                                           Star Base glop - straight amber

I highlighted the curved "R"s with the red arrow. But, if you look elsewhere in the embossing on the straight amber Spruance glop tops, you'll notice a totally different style of R as mentioned last night. This plot really is getting thick!


  1. I may be missing something here but I don't see any curved "R" on that stanley.

  2. I just looked at mine. The letters are dinky so the curve in the leg's not as obvious as a 70's or 80's gloppy but it's there. And the star on the base is pretty tough to miss.

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  4. Both of you guys could be right.

    I compared the red S/S to a glop top star base straight amber Livingston Gaines with embossing that's about the same size (maybe just a little bigger). I used a magnifying glass to compare the two. The little hitch on the "R" of the Gaines stands out like a sore thumb. The Spruance not so much. Still, the Spruance does indeed have a flare that's noticeable and is unlike the straight amber S/S glop top "R" that actually turns out at the bottom of the "bowl" and then back in as it bottoms out. My photography left something to be desired - those red ones are tough to get just right.

    But... there's that star.

  5. With all the new information that has recently come to light about the German connection consider this...... Take for instance, Holt Glass Works of West Berkeley California (1893-1906) was founded by a German immigrant glass blower, the time frame is right. With the large number of red whittled bottles that primarily show up only here on the West Coast it hard for me to fathom the idea that they all came form overseas, it just doesn't make sense. It seems very possible that German immigrants in the bottle making business brought their recipes and skills along with them and produced the same kind of glass here as in their homeland.

  6. Excellent point GP,
    I have always wondered if the “East Bay” connection might have played a major role in the red whittled bottles that have been tagged “German”
    It sure would ratchet up my interest in these bottles if I knew they were blown here in the west.
    Until someone hunkers down and spends the effort researching this possibility I guess we will never know.

  7. The letter 'R' on those last 3 photos of Kentucky Gems article are typical of the letters seen on bottles from the Eastern US. For another example look at the letter R on the bottle in the article on Western Bitters News blog site on the Extract of Manzanita bottle. Same style font.

  8. A number of the earlier red-amber fifths pre-date the Holt glass works by more than 10 yrs.

    Many many thousands of European-blown
    (English, French, and German)bottles have been dug in Ca. and the West in general.
    Some common embossed examples: Lea & Perrins, Wakelee's Citrate, Hunyadi Janos Bitterquelle, Gilka, Lubin Perfumes, many clear pontiled French perfumes, ... and the list goes on and on and on.........

  9. The R's on any of the Spruance Stanley are no where near similar to the classic Western R. Mr "R" at the glassworks in SF was probably long gone even before those Spruances were blown. If you want to see a Western R on a Spruance bottle, look at the Chalmers.

  10. Re: the comment....."its hard for me to fathom the idea that they all came from overseas, it just doesn't make sense."
    Anyone on here ever dug any Ginger beers? Anyone ever dug hundreds of ginger-beers?? Most Ginger beers are stamped with the pottery manufacturer's name and town, usually Edinburgh, Scotland or Belfast, Ireland.

  11. I think all this hype about these "R's is just that, Hype!!! There are too many bottles around from back east , europe, and out west that have these Rs. some are even straight and curved on the same bottle!! Some mold makers just must have liked the look of curved legged Rs. doesnt meean the bottle was blown in any certain place, or time period. it is just a curved legged R..get over it

  12. This is somewhat off track but doesn't warrant a new thread so... I've noted more than one reference to Holt Glass.

    Holt Glass Works, of North Berkley, Cal. was first mentioned by Dr. Julian Toulouse in his work "Bottle Makers and Their Marks". Does anyone have any factual research on this company? Toulouse wrote the preceding book in 1971, and his reference to Holt Glass has been quoted in whole or in part ever since.

    I am in the process of writing an article for another website on their operations and their base marks but have hit a stone wall when it comes to location, owners, dates of incorporation, employees, source of raw materials etc. etc. etc. The company is late enough where some documentation should still be available.

    In an effort to document the company, I contacted libraries and historical societies in the Oakland / Berkley area of the S.F. East Bay, in an attempt to garner more facts and or photos. Unfortunately, I never received the courtesy of even being blown off in response.

    I'd be much obliged if you'd share whatever you have. You'll receive full credit (if desired) in the article for your assistance.


  13. Lots of hoopla about those R's. So what about the star on the base?


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