Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wormser Bros. Vertical Embossed Flasks Pre 1872?

I have always been attracted to the earlier Western flasks. Some of the earliest are the Wormser Bros. flasks from San Francisco. The horizontal embossed Wormser is supposedly as early as 1865(?), and the "Fine old Cognac" about 1872. The more commonly seen vertically embossed flask is listed in Thomas' book as being manufactured from 1867-1872. I believe thay may have been that early, however I also think they were made for much longer...perhaps as late as 1878! The company was sold to Richard Braeg ,Albert Dallemand ,and E. 1872, but I believe these flasks continued to be produced during the time between that time, and when Jaines Walker joined the firm in the late 1870s. The horizontal embossed flask, and the Fine old Cognac were not being produced after 1872 in my opinion, but the vertical Wormser exhibits charactaristics of being very early ( large tops,dark chocolate/olive, olive green, to yellow green) They also have strong crudity. I have also seen examples which seem to have extremely bold embossing, and tiny applied tops. These are in plain amber, and sometimes off shades of amber. Interestingly, the earlier examples have typically weaker embossing than later blown specimens, which should be the other way around. If the mold was reworked in the mid 1870s, they cut the letters exactly the same,or the glassblowers in the early part of the run had TB, or COPD,as I have compared them. I would be interested to know others' views on the length of the vertical Wormser run. You do not find them in my neck of the woods, or at least did not before 1989 when I dug in Oregon.


  1. Just in the two examples that are shown in your post, the lettering is different. Take a look at the letter S in the word Francisco. The light yellow's example is upside down, while the olive colored flask is right side up. The moulds are cut with a space to place these letters(sort of like scrabble pieces)sometimes the die pieces are placed inadvertantly upside down, sometimes the die are cut/engraved with the letter correctly, so that when placed in the mould, they come out backwards. This is also why on some embossings, the letters are not evenly spaced between.
    I do not believe that the Wormser Bros. barrel bottle is western made,I'm also of some doubt as to whether this flask is entirely made out West either.

  2. I have dug a few of those over the decades. There was a very old house at 15th and S Sts, here in Sacramento, and the side yard was nothing but flasks, buried just beneath the surface. Most were broken, but one Angeli and four of those Wormsers came out whole. The trash pit was too early for the "newer" flasks and fifths, but all shades of those Wormsers were represented.

    In JTs first book, another bottle seller got credit for "finding" that Angeli, but he never stuck a shovel into the ground in his life. He would buy any sack of bottles we took to him, and we sure kept him in good supply. Old Sac was going strong at the time and it was nothing to dig 40-50 good sodas, and other bottles, every day. We though that it would never end and had no idea how good it was. That all changed on a matter of a few years. Digging was banned in Old Town, and strictly enforced.

  3. I'm pretty sure the Vert. Wormser's were in service as early as 1869. Many, many whole and broken ones have been found in Eastern Nevada. The larger towns of the district had a long enough life to possibly raise doubt on an exact age, but lately our focus has been on some of the small, out of the way camps or even mines that can be documented and identified. Some of these shipped ore for just the 1868 and 1869 seasons and Wormser's Vert.s are routinely seen at these locations.

    The manufacture and lettering of bottle moulds is fascinating to me. I wish there was more information available on the subject. There was an very interesting post on the Western Bitters Blog on "slug plates". How were the private moulds lettered, or cast for that matter? Could more than one absolutely identical mould be made from a pattern? If anyone has some good information on mould manufacture and/or usage... please share.

  4. I have dug quite a few vert. Wormser's broken and whole,on half a doz or so different occasions. All have come out of late 60's - early 70's pits. Some examples of other bottles comingled with my Wormser's are non-circle IXL's, pontilled umbrella inks, EG Lyon's, Old Dr Townsends Magic Stomach Bitters, Water St Murray & Lanman's, Pioneer Soda Works S.F (w/o shield).

    So far, I have not seen a whole example nor pcs any any layers later than the early 70s. I have heard however, that in at least one place in Nv that dated early 80's, several Wormser's were recovered. Could those have been 'recycled'?



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