Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hotaling's OPS T-52

I cannot recall an OPS being featured on the blog, so I thought I would post this example. These seem to come from the California coastal areas mainly, but I have heard of them being found in Nevada. According to Thomas, there have been examples dug in Oregon as well, but I cannot confirm this. Not sure if any examples have been found in the past few years, but would be interested to know just how far these were distributed. What about Washington, or Idaho? This one was dug in Santa Cruz, by a contractor running a trencher. Apparently, this bottle was tossed out of the trench, and picked up by some kids. The late John Thomas "acquired" the OPS from them, and it was one of his favorites. I believe there are about 30 or so in collections, but they sure do not become available very often. The tooled top examples usually have very bold embossing, and as seems common, are often more crude then their glob top counterparts. This one has a very strong strike though, and has some whittle effect. Amazing it is mint given the rough start it had, being recovered in the manner it was. Paper thin glass, you almost get the feeling you could crush it in your hands, it is so fragile.


  1. I have dug three in that northern state in many years past ,and thomas bought one that was yellow and crude ,but had some checks in the glass ,it was crude but not as whittled as this one ,fantastic bottle,and john was a pioneer in our obsession of these prized containers and is missed by all of us who knew him,great story.karl

  2. John Thomas told me personally, on more than one occasion during the mid 1990s while I was interviewing him in the course of my research, that this OPS example was his most favorite of all the 1/5's that he'd owned in the past !

  3. Geesh, almost looks like it has a touch of olive ?

  4. Super Example!

    Thanks for sharing all of these 10 out of 10 examples. M.E.!

  5. Seems like OPS is a Oregon bottle.

  6. OPS = Oregon? NOT!

    Around in the early 70's I was driving truck for Cosentinos Markets. We picked the high end produce up at the wholesalers in South City (S.F.) and trucked the bulk produce back to Cosentinos, where it was washed, sorted and readied for delivery to the top end restaurants in Saratoga and Los Gatos.

    One of my stops was La Hacienda, off the Los Gatos / Saratoga road. I'd heard that the site proper, and the location in general, dated back to the 1870's and had it's share of saloons and road houses. On a whim, I drove back there after work one day and snooped around. A pile of oyster shells off the road and up the hill a bit, the size of a good sized living room - and just as high, caught my attention. Several hours later, after digging through a concreted mass of 100+ years shells, an OPS rewarded me for my efforts.

    So no, it's not just an "Oregon thing".

    Dig on; there's always the chance that there's a pony in the closet!

  7. Great dig !

    You're right KG, seems like many have come out of the Santa Cruz/Watsonvile area. I should rephrase my above comment....EVERY 5h is an Oregon bottle (almost).

  8. That's not far from reality Andrew...there only a handful of early whiskeys that have not been found here. Suits, Virginia, N., Weil Bros., some rare Cal. slug plates, and that is about it. Like everywhere, though, every hole that is dug is one less that can be dug(profound), also, unlike many other States, the hostility bordering on violence,by other "diggers", and the State view of digging, has made the Beaver State a war zone...

  9. OPSs are found in numerous Northern CA towns. To date, I have not found any in Sacratomato, but have in other valley places. One whole, several shattered.

    Dale, I feel for you Oregonians. The "digger sentiment" is not nearly as conflicted and negative down here, but it is certainly not improving.

  10. Ptlnd 1867--- " This is the most populous & wealthy city in the State, and second only to San Francisco on the Pacific Coast in commercial importance. It is the entrepot for the interior trade of Oregon and the Territories of Washington & Idaho".

    This was quoted from the 1867 Pacific Coast Directory. It's no wonder to me at all why so many OPS's and other good fifths have been found in Ptlnd. It was restocked at least three times daily by ships from S.F., too far away from S.F. for recycling the bottles for glass factory cullet, zero earthquake fill or 1907 rebuild/grade destruction. It truly is/was the Western bottle diggers' dream town to dig !


  11. Great bottle M.E.

    As was mentioned, John Thomas thought that this bottle was the finest fifth that he had the pleasure of owning. There is at least one killer example of just about every known early fifth and flask. The OPS fifths may not be a "top 25" fifth. This example certainly is!


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