Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A pair to draw to

Or are they? Similar, but quite different if you look closer. The OK is very often seen, it's cousin, the A No 1, is another story. Although these bottles, and their yet undiscovered Pure Old Rye "look alike", were trademarked by A.P.Hotaling in the Spring of '81, it is evidenced by sheer numbers found that the OK outsold the A No 1 by a huge margin. The more common bottle even made it into the "toolie" years, and on into the 1890s.

Both of these bottles were found by myself, the A No 1 locally and the OK at a High Sierra mine. To the best of my knowledge, three of the A No 1 bottles have been found here in Sacramento. More than double that many of the OKs were dug in and around town.

Both are very light amber and heavily whittled, although the dreary day and poor light, plus my inadequate photographic abilities makes the effect disappear.


  1. Hey nice pair but are you sure the "A no 1" was trade marked in 81 ??? I've only shoveled out one of these very rare Cutters and it came out of an early 70s hole with a cobalt Owen. I find it interesting that the few of these I've seen were all whittled and fairly nice colors.

  2. Don't mean to throw a blanket on the party but just because a brand was trademarked on a particular date doesn't mean that it wasn't in use before that date. Several early western merchants had bottles embossed long before they trademarked the product they contained.

  3. Yes, the first trademark for the three "OK", "A No 1" and "Pure Old Rye" was March of 1881. That is the only claim made by Hotaling, except for the OPS, which was in 1874. That file was stolen long ago. I'm talking of the State Of California, and have no information from the Library Of Congress or US Patent Offices. A.P. Hotaling was very "trade mark conscious", especially considering the protracted court process that he suffered through in protecting his J. H. Cutter brand from the pirate E.J. Martin

    I have found no CA Claim of trademark for the "Bird", either. It is most definitely an earlier bottle, given that it has the vaunted "curved Rs" throughout the embossing, not in only the "Trade Marks" as in the above mentioned bottles.

    The A No 1s that I have dug were found along with bottles from the late '70s to early '80s time frame. I believe that a cobalt Owen found associated with an A No 1 was a "throwback". On many occasions we have found earlier bottles tossed in later pits, as have most western diggers.

    These discussions are an excellent learning "tool" and we all benefit from them. I have plenty to learn about Hotaling and his products, and certainly don't claim to have all the answers. Let's keep the "Cutter dialogue" going.

  4. You definitely have a point here that I've never considered about the curved leg "R" being carried throughout the embossing on the Bird Cutter making it the oldest but..... There are certainly other Western blown straight leg "R" Cutter bottles that predate the use of the curved leg "R", take for instance the earliest "J.F." 5th. I believe these were possibly in use for a couple of years prior to being trade marked in 1871 as evidenced by the age of other bottles I've dug with them.

    In the case of the "A no 1" we dug, that pit seemed like it started out mid 70s but I may be entirely wrong here. I don't think the Owen was a throw back either because there were also an aqua Owen and other 70s bottles like a "King Of Pain", multiple spices, blacks, busted cathedrals, etc. in the same layer.

    An interesting factoid about the "A no 1" and the "O.K." is that these are the only two western 5ths that combine the use of both the straight & curved leg "R" font on the same bottle.

    There's other diggers on this blog that have dug the "A no 1" too. What do you think ???


  5. The curved Rs in the "Trade Marks" embossing may have been used in all three of these molds. The words are exactly the same in size and length.

    The "Trade Marks" refers to the English Crown and the embossed barrel, both claimed by A.P.Hotaling.
    The crown was pirated my E.Martin and used on his bottles, resulting in the 14 yr. landmark case.

  6. We pulled out an "A No 1" last year from a late 1870's looking layer that also contained a Mid-Crown (weaker strike, probably towards end of run) and a gravitator. In my opinion that layer certainly could have been 1881.

  7. I dug an A No 1 barrel/crown in a pit that had a broken GO Blakes More Reynolds laying right next to it.
    Most of the Bird Cutters I've dug have come out of late 70's- early 80's layers.

  8. old bumstead has dug the ok,bird .a-n-01,four mold circle,and mjh on base,jessemore,all in the same layer,hotaling portland no rickrack,and the house was built before 79 and these were right on the bottom,so late 70's early 80's is the date.


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