Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fresh out of the Ground

 Here is a fresh find still acclimating to a warm home and ready for a bit of muriatic. Amazing how these bourbons traveled around the west only to be dug up in a shallow pit somewhere. I always like to think about their journey, and finally being discarded without so much as a scratch. I hope everyone is digging up the "good stuff" this Fall.

 Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Horse, A Jockey, A Castle, and the Big Antlers....

I'm bringing some of my best fifths to the table this year: a Gold Dust, Jockey Club, J. Moore, and an Old Castle.  I won't be there on Friday with my dad and brother, but will join in on the fun on Saturday. Travel safe and I look forward to seeing you all at the show! P.S. This is for no other reason than a plug and I am not ashamed enough to not post it ;)

Friday, November 23, 2012


 Wow, what a name! Pacific Mail and Steam Ship Co. It would be hard to find another brand which embodies the Old West more than the P.M.S.S. whiskey. Being an A.P. Hotaling bottle does not hurt either!
 It seems like the "German" red whittled western whiskey's have decreased a bit in popularity the past few years. I believe that the theory that several of the late 1880s and early 1890s whiskey bottles were likely not blown in the West has caused some collectors to back away from them. This is disappointing, as these whittled, red gems are for the most part all rare to extremely rare. For overall beauty, they are hard to match, and even an 1889+ blown bottle is now 124 years old. The bottles like the N.Ahrens, P.M.S.S., Wm. Cline, Hilbert Bros.Commin's,Spears and Chevalier Whiskey Merchant's are as pretty today as they were before the "German Connection" was discovered. I personally love the earlier glass as well, but these red whittled beauties are important pieces of western history. They look gorgeous mixed in with the greens, olives, and yellows which are so desirable in western whiskey bottles. I believe there are about 15 of the P.M.S.S. fifths in collections which would qualify them as rare. DM

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cutter "Mid-Crown"

I thought I would share a few photos of an E.Martin Cutter "Mid-Crown". I know these are not super tough to get, and I have handled many over the years. This example, however takes overall quality, and crudity to a high level. As some of you may know, I have really focused on the "slippery slope" of western bitters, and this has required me to gradually liquidate my whiskey collection to provide the necessary funding to build a quality bitters collection. Of the finest examples of which I moved along, many of which were unbelievably crude and whittled, this lowly Cutter ranks up there with the best of them. Super whittled inside and out, a huge top, and light golden yellow color...slag in the glass, strong embossing and beautiful condition, have made this one a "keeper" for me. I have owned them in green, multi-color shades of amber, bright lemon yellow, and this example outshines them all. I know there are some amazing examples out there, so let's see them! The Mid-Crown would be a good candidate for a display in Reno, or other western show due to the many colors they are found. DM

Monday, October 29, 2012

Western Fifth's on ebay

Here's a beautiful Cutter Bird being offered on ebay by Leisalu

And a killer Pepper Distillery fifth from diggin8s

I sure was getting tired of looking at last month's Oregon weather forecast
Fantastic pictures!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

J.F. Cutter on ebay

Here's an "interesting" item for sale on ebay. A turning purple quart size whiskey shaped bottle with several scratches, a scuff or two and a perfect paper label.
Take a look at this beauty: and you be the judge.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Howdy....The Downieville Bottle Group welcomes you to its annual Show and Sale
Step Right Up……to the 2012 Downieville Antique Bottles & Collectibles Show and Sale!

A bottle collector’s paradise!  Coming to Downieville on Saturday, September 8 is the annual antique bottles and collectibles show at the Downieville School Gym!  Early Lookers are welcome at 8:00am-10:00am for a $10 fee donation.  The show is free to the public from 10am-3pm. 

This show has gained much popularity over the years as one of the west coast’s favorite shows!  Known for its small town hospitality and friendliness, the Downieville Antique Bottle Show has attracted buyers and sellers from Utah, Texas, Oregon, Nevada and Washington states.  Many desirable bottles have changed hands at the Downieville Show and lots of great treasures have gone home to happy buyers.  

In addition to antique bottles, shoppers will find a great selection of trade cards, advertising tins and signs, ephemera, and so much more.  There is something for almost every kind of collector!  And don’t forget to buy your raffle ticket for some great prizes! 

This year’s show will feature displays of “The Silver Seventies”.  Bottles and related items from the 1870’s; whiskies, sodas, medicines and drug stores will be on display.  This was an important time in history, resulting in the discovery of silver as prospectors rushed to the Nevada area, scrambling to stake their claims.

Downieville is located on historic Highway 49 in the northern gold country.  If it’s your first time attending the Downieville Show, expect to slow down and step back into time in this quaint little gold rush community.  You can park and walk to the bottle show, museums, shops, restaurants, saloon and wine bar.  For dealer or show information, please call Rick & Cherry Simi (530) 289-3659 or email:  We hope to see you here in Downieville!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Latest aquisitions

These two bottles were my most recent scores. I have searched for a problem free PMSS for quite a while and couldn't pass this sparkler up when it became available. Likewise the yellow OPS, which will go well with my darker examples.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

FOHBC 2012 Expo Reno Nevada

Fellow Enthusiasts................. Come join the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors, the Norman Heckler & Company and yours truly at the 2012 Expo........350 (yep! Three Hundred & Fifty) tables of bottle and bottle related Dealers and the Saturday afternoon Western Style bottle "SHOOTOUT" your best Drakes, Circle Cutter or Umbrella Ink and join the action in the high desert town of Reno Nevada. If your not hankerin' to throw out your best bottle then please join us for Hors d' oeuvres and a magnificent display of antique glass.......I'll be lookin' forward to seeing y'all ! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


The big EXPO show is almost here.   We need to start talkin about the planned "shootout" of  J.H. Cutter fifths.   How many of you are planning on packing some heavy artillery to the show?

Now remember it's not .44s  we're talkin about here... this contest is for 43s.... T43's.  (no A No 1 on reverse).  

We have a couple of renegade gangs of t-43s here in Utah.   That dang Groberg gang is going to be pretty tough to tangle with.   I've got a few good hands,  but they'll probably wilt when the contest gets heated.  My ol' pard Blake has a real ki---- "Johnny Ringo".   It was one of the last circles that I remember being dug over here,  and it is smokin! 

Now, we've already had a couple of these Cutter comparisons over here in years past.   I am under no illusion as to where my best example stacks up.  Doesn't matter!!  I'm bringing them anyway.  Just to see a big group of these in one place.   One thing I know for sure,  our comparisons over here produced an interesting discovery.  There is a variant of this bottle mold that is obvious when you get a few of them lined up.  


What say ye?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Causal Resemblance?

Most of us are familiar with the Wolf, Janes & Co. slug-plate cylinder.  Up there near the top, it's a tough one; having been awarded the #4 ranking amongst all slug plates. Thomas dated is to ca. 1890. Based on my research, I'd say his guess was darned close to hitting the nail on the head. John Wolf and Lonis Lyman Janes entered into their co-partnership on September 10, 1889. It's flat out rare and I've seen only one example over the years.

For whatever reason, things didn't work out and by 1891, John Wolf had partnered up with William G. Wreden. The cylinders ustilized by the firm are a transitional bottle and were blown with both applied, and tooled tops. That relationship lasted for quite a while and the fifths, although not common, are one of the easier slug-plates to acquire. (I've got three at this time in case someone wants one - I know, a shameless plug~).

Backing up a bit, the first in the John Wolf whiskey lineage is yet another slug plate. The bottles produced for John Wolf & Co date from August 1, 1887 up until the time that Wolf & Janes partnered up. Incidently, Wolf was the "& Co." (he had no silent partners) and he was located at 410 Clay St. at the time. The bottle is embossed simply, John Wolf & Co. / large fancy intertwined logo / San Francisco. It too is rare. Thomas said one in amber and another in clear; both glop tops. Ever wonder what the label looked like?

I bet the labels gave old A.P. something close to apoplexy when he spotted them. Well, like my grand-dad used to say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It also, no doubt, kept Hotaling's attorneys busy.

A Causal Resemblance?  NOT...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Missing Link

We are all familiar with the very common J. H. Cutter OK Old Bourbon Whisky with the embossed barrel, as well as the not quite so often seen similar bottle that contained A No 1 Old Bourbon. These bottles were trade marked in the State of California on March 24 1881. Along the the OK and A No 1 the claim of trade marks includes one that has not been seen by the bottle collecting fraternity. This one was for J.F. Cutter Pure Old Rye whisky. The embossing for the bottle and the printed labels for the Cutter Rye are spelled out in great detail in the trade marks claim. It has become apparent that despite the evidence that such a bottle could exist, none were likely produced. If they were manufactured and sold to the public where is the proof? No such embossed bottles, not even a fragment, have turned up in the past half century of bottle digging in the West. I am not suggesting that none being made is an absolute, but given the extreme popularity of Hotaling's products you would think that a few Pure Old Rye bottles would have been dug somewhere in the vast area where his Cutter Whisky was distributed. I could very well be that at least one such bottle will eventually be found, but that outcome remains doubtful. I, for one, would very much like to be proven wrong on this. You diggers out there should pay close attention to shards that you find, don't assume that that the pieces of the Cutters embossed with the barrel are OK or A No 1s. You could find the "missing link' in the A.P. Hotaling J. H. Cutter chain. Following are portions of A. P. Hotaling's Claim of Trade Marks for the barrel embossed fifths.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Totally Choice, dude~

Choice Old Cabinet

The name itself instantly conjures up the mental image of a top notch whiskey. And what better way to merchandise a top notch product, than to have a top notch mold made for the bottles that held it. A quick glance at the full face embossing tells you that the bottles were blown in San Francisco thanks to the "funny R". The amber applied top cylinders, what few of them are around, have that characteristic look of a late 70's - early 80's classic western glop top.

Click on the following link to read the article.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

R.T. Carroll

Here is my favorite example of any western "slug plate" whiskey. According to Thomas, John Carroll started his wholesale liquor endeavor in 1859 at No. 50 First Street in San Francisco. In 1860 he brought his son Richard T. into the business as his bookkeeper and in 1869 Richard was a full partner in the company. In 1870 Richard Carroll formed a partnership with Richard Brainerd & Co. and in 1874 Richard bought Brainerd's interest in the company, and the firm became R.T. Carroll & Co.
 The R.T. Carrol fifth is one of the earliest "slug plate" style whiskeys, if not the earliest. As to it's scarcity, it is one of the most difficult to obtain, and one of the few with that sacred embossing "sole agents". The 2002 Thomas book indicated there were 2 examples known to collectors, however I believe there are seven specimens known today. I believe it dates to the mid to later 1870s.
 This particular example is untypically crude for a slug plate with heavy whittle effect, swirls , and shades from yellow, to a deep golden amber. I have handled three R.T.Carroll fifths to date, and one was quite plain, and I have heard of at least one other example ( ex-Eastley, Terry, now Kille) which is also crude. I would be interested to know where the known examples were found, and I believe this one was dug in Hollister, Ca. several years ago.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Here is a subject we have posted about in the past.   The W.S. Wright bottles that were found in a deep hole behind the old Wright building in V.C.    It was surmised that possibly the first batch of bottles that were delivered to William Wright,  from the Pacific Glass Works,  were of such poor quality that they were unusable.  

If you haven't had a chance to see Fred Holabird's new book  NEVADA HISTORY THROUGH GLASS Volume I,  I recommend you pick up a copy.   They are available through Holabird Americana on the web, or through ebay  DND Collectables.   About 30 bucks including postage.   Hardback,  340+ pages,  loaded with information and pictures.  It is a tremendous book!  Volume II is coming later this year,  Nevada pharmacy bottles and medicines.

Reportedly the hole, dug in 1989, was nearly 36 feet deep with a solid layer of broken W.S. Wright sodas.  Estimated at several thousand broken bottles,  a few intact examples did survive.   Interesting story about it in Fred's book.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Looking for Perfection

The ongoing commentary about the condition of a western whiskey bottle that was offered at auction recently - awakened thoughts about how western collectors grade the condition of bottles and how picky they have become.  

The auction houses all grade their offerings on different platforms. Western collectors usually grade bottles by the three “C’s”. Color, condition and crudity. Then there are the folks that grade bottles as if they were coins. Phrases like “absolutely mint” “bold strike” and “PERFECT” are thrown about like loaded dice.

Let’s start right off with defining “mint”. Mint condition is an expression used in the description of pre-owned goods. Originally, the phrase comes from the way collectors describe the condition of coins. Mint is the place where the coin was manufactured. Mint condition is the condition a coin is in as it leaves the mint. Over time, the term "mint" began to be used to describe many different items (including bottles) having excellent, like-new quality.

For a bottle to be mint it must be in the same condition as when it left the factory. Agreed? If you agree with the term mint condition then stress cracks, annealing checks and other in making flaws are acceptable distractions to a bottle, it came from the factory that way didn’t it? . Are you still with me on this or are you collecting “perfect” bottles?

Perfection is a philosophical concept and not necessarily a condition of a piece of glass. If you want a “perfect” bottle then just maybe you will need to improve on what the factory manufactured. There are lots of people in the bottle community that can take your bottle from mint to perfect and most all of them charge for it. Cleaning, polishing, removing chips, gluing on tops…you get the drift.

As a collector matures and becomes more sophisticated he starts to appreciate the character of a collectible piece. Whether it is the unique handmade appearance, apparent in-making flaws or just an honest wear pattern, the not so perfect has become perfect in his or her eyes.

 If you’re using a 30 power loop looking for flaws in western glass you certainly are going to find them. Early western glass is full of in-making flaws. Potstones, cooling checks, stress cracks and a host of other imperfections plague early western glass.

If you are looking for western whiskies without issues my advice is to start collecting turn of the century tool tops. There are plenty of rare and desirable “perfect” western tool top whiskies to put on your shelf.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Can I offer you whiskey or gin?   Yes please!!

I think we should start a club of Jockey Club collectors ...   you can jump in with both feet this month,  just a nominal investment with Jeff at ABA.

Seriously,  what beautiful bottles.   There have been several posts about both the Chesley Jockey Club whiskey bottles and the Jockey Clubhouse Gins on this blog and the Western Bitters blog.   Currently a great post on the Peachridge Glass website.   

Friday, April 13, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

Thistledew. Well I'll be; again~

My old pal, TQ, once again came through with some amazing "stuff" and what he provided is nothing short of the smoking gun in the Thistledew mystery. Here is where things really start to gel. Look at the broadside in the window. It advertises none other than, Thistledew Whiskey. And, it clearly shows F. Mandlebaum as the Sole Agent for the Pacific Coast.

An invoice dated 1879 from Mandlebaum clears up two decades old questions. The address on the invoice matches that on the broadside; 312 Sacramento. But this invoice is for Nabob Whiskey! And so, Mandlebaum was responsible for both Thistledown and Nabob. But, check out the fine print on the invoice~ We always assumed that the product, like most whiskies was available by bottle or in bulk in the form of hogsheads. Notice though, the reference to flasks? Ones mind whirls with visions of grandeur when the possibility of a picture flask exists. Look out N. Grange and J. Moore!

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. If you recall in the first write-up, I mentioned the movie Deadwood, as being one of my all time favorites. Little did I know that Deadwood would figure prominently into the Thistledew / Nabob saga. By 1886, Manflebaum disappears from the picture and Geo. Simmonds is handling the Nabob product himself out of his place over at 215 - 217 California St., less than two blocks away. Note the invoice mailed to... you guessed - Tombstone!

Although Wyatts residency in Tombstone was from 1879 - 1881, he or brothers Virgil and Morgan may well have imbibed of Nabob at one time or another while dealing faro in the Oriental Saloon.

To sum it up, Thistledew had two Sole Agents handling the brand consecutively. F. Mandlebaum had the sole agency for the Pacific Coast in 1879, pushing the product hard, along with Simmonds Nabob. But by 1886, Geo Simmonds was handling the Nabob product on it's own. Thistledew had gained popularity in the silver camps of Nevada by 1887 and was being hyped by a W.O.H. Martin out of Reno. After that point in time, Martin disappears and the Thistledew saga comes to a close.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Well I'll Be...

One of my favorite movies of all time is Tombstone; the one with Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, & Bill Paxton.

One of the many memorable lines, (and my favorite) went like this; Wyatt says, "Well, I'll be damned", to which Doc Holiday replied "You may indeed - if you get lucky".

I may be both~

While perusing the Reno Evening Gazzete November 12, 1887 edition, I stumbled across an advertisement on page 4 which clears up a mystery that's dogged us since John Thomas came out with his first book on western whiskies, back in the sixties.

John stated, "As far as known, nobody has found one of the Thistledew bottles with a label. This bottle is still only believed to come from the West." All but a couple of the few known Thistledew examples were recovered in Nevada, Utah and Idaho.

The advertisement spells it all out in a nice neat package. W.O.H. Martin / For Sale Wholesale & Retail / Sole Agent for Reno, Washoe County, and Lassen and Modoc Counties, California/.

Well John, you can't get much more "western" than the Silver State! Looks like Tommy Taylor has company now. Thistledew is a Nevada Whiskey.


Just got an email from an acquaintance on Oahu. I stand corrected. At least two globby Thistledews have been dug in and around Honolulu. A little more "digging" turned up the reason;

This ad appeared on May 24,1886;

Followed by this one from the December 17, 1887 edition of the Hawaiian Gazette. Kinda gives a new meaning to crossover, eh?


Neat Stuff!

Here's a fresh example, dirt and all. Check out the drip on this puppy!