Continuing with the discussion of fair market value as it relates to the bottle world.   There are many variables in the determination of fair market value. Some of these variables are: historic value, what the seller wants to sell the item for; what a buyer is willing to pay; current economic conditions – is the market strong or is it weak; and other factors.

If the item has never been sold before, a baseline must be established first to determine a fair market value. How is that baseline defined? A baseline is a “clearly defined starting point (point of departure) from where implementation begins, improvement is judged, or comparison is made”.

Using EBay as an example every item in the bottle category has a starting point. The number that the item is selling for is the starting point. It is the number the seller wants the item to star at. The starting price might begin at $9.99, $100.00, or higher.   This price is most often determined by the seller and not by the actual fair market value of the item or what it could currently sell for. The final price could be higher of lower than the seller desires or may not sell at all. Such factors as condition, rarity, and incorrect information presented, and inappropriate pricing, etc. do contribute to whether the item is sold or not sold. The same can be said of an auction.

Often times items are sold at exorbitant prices or extremely low prices. In both situations, the seller and the buyer can be surprised. This often occurs at auctions when multiples bidders are interested in a particular item for a variety of reasons and the price takes off. The result of which is the sale of the item at an extremely high price, which no one would have ever foreseen.

It is quite apparent after viewing the antique bottle market over the past several years that the fair market value of antique bottles is out of balance. Too often this core principle of fair market value is ignored completely when items are put up for sale. Returning to a fair market value would be helpful for everyone who wants to sell bottles or buy bottles.

As a perfect example that is going on in the bottle world today, is the Hostetters Bitters Bottle. For years the Hostetters bitters bottle was a very common bottle coming in many colors and many sizes. You would see them selling at shows and on-line for no more than 5-10 dollars a piece regardless of the maker, the color, or the condition. All of a sudden in the last six months to a year,, the price of Hostetters has “exploded”. A black Hostetter that sold for $100 a year ago is now selling for $400-$500. The same can be said for lime green ones. They are now selling for $700-$800 and often higher. Why the exorbitant prices being asked?

Three different examples are presented here showing the vast range of prices, and descriptions. Can the prices being asked for these 3 items be justified based on the information provided in their descriptions? What does a potential buyer need from an item’s description to feel comfortable or justify bidding on this items or taking advantage of a buy it now option?

Example #1 states: A really nice green Hostetter’s bitters, my eyes see a touch of Amber. No cracks or chips. Strong embossing, about 9 1/2 inches high. Price $750.00.


Example #2 states: Vintage Dr. J. Hostetters’s stomach bitters bottle. In nice condition. Price $75.00


Example #3 states: This great antique glass bottle is embossed Dr J Hostetter’s Stomach bitters and is in a scarce color. It dates from the 19th century 9 inches tall by 2+5/8 inches square across the bottom. It is in excellent attic mint condition, no chips or cracks. Price $1,795.00


Is there validity to the argument that the fair market value core principle is missing as shown in the three examples presented above? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, then what are your thoughts? Where does fair market value fit into the bottle process?

The blog received numerous requests about the term historic documents. They asked to have a more in-depth discussion on what is a historic document; what characteristics make it historic, why are they important and how does it affect the dollar value?

DISCLAIMER: All information contained within this blog is copyrighted and the sole property of the Owl Drug Collectors Blog. Reprinting or reproducing any of the information must receive prior permission from the Owl Drug Collectors Blog.

Last week the blog shared with the blog audience the following document as shown below. We show this document because the validation of the value of this document has never been done before.


How does one validate this document or any other item that has never been shown to the public before? One of the methodologies that can be employed is the test and verification method. President Ronald Reagan espoused this methodology and we at the blog have adopted this and other methods to the bottle world today.

Test and Verify includes asking questions and getting answers. Once you get an answer, you must check to see if the answer is accurate and truthful. If the answer is not truthful, you must be skeptical about what the person is telling you. This is also true of “Actions”. When something is promised, does the individual follow through on what they have promised? Unfortunately much of what is being told or shared is based on hearsay, half-truths, or merely inaccurate information. Do not fail to ask questions or raise concerns when the person makes statements. Hesitate if the individual refuses to respond to your questions or concerns. Be leery of his/her attempt to profess expertise, but refuses to communicate with you.

As you step up to a table at a bottle show, for example, and you see a bottle that you may be interested in, the test and verify methodology should automatically kick in. First ask the vendor, what is the background on the bottle? What does he know about it? What is the history of the bottle? Has the bottle been cleaned, tumbled, and/or polished? Listen to his answer very carefully and see if you believe the answers he/she gives you have any validity. If not, MOVE ON! If his/her answers seem to have validity then ask if you can put a “black light” on the item. How the person answers this question will determine if you stay or go.

The term “Black Light” has been discussed in previous blogs, but consider it important to revisit and remind the audience what a Black Light is and why it should be employed in the bottle world. A “Black Light” is a special light bulb that is put on a lamp for the sole purpose of inspecting a glass item such as a bottle. The lamp is held so that you can go over a portion or the entire glass item to check for imperfections, flaws, or other restorations done to the bottle. One should always use a “Black Light” to view glass items, but it is imperative that once a bottle reaches a certain dollar value, a “Black Light” must be used.

Returning to the discussion of The Owl Drug Co item shown above, it is concluded that it is a “historical document” and is presented to the public as such. It announces the acquisition of one Drug Company, The Sun Drug Company by the Owl Drug Company of San Francisco thereby combining two companies into one. The signature on the document is that of C.A. (Carl) Henry, president of The Owl Drug Co. Using the test and verify methodology, the blog researched the validity of Carl Henry as president of The Owl Drug Company during this period in the company’s history and the validity of the acquisition of the Sun Drug company. Both the signature on the document and the acquisition indicated in this document are indeed accurate, truthful and valid.

What other characteristics can we say about this document? It is in mint condition, has never been altered or subject to any type of conservation or restoration process. It is defined as rare and limited in number with few known. What value can be assessed to this document? Is it worth $10.00, $100.00, $1,000.00, $10,000.00 or $100,000.00? What is the process that would be used to determine the fair market value of this document? What avenue should be used if the document were to be put up for sale – auction, EBay, bottle show or privately? Your feedback is most welcome.

DISCLAIMER: All information contained within this blog is copyrighted and the sole property of the Owl Drug Collectors Blog. Reprinting or reproducing any of the information must receive prior permission from the Owl Drug Collectors Blog.


August 11, 2016

Several weeks ago the blog shared an Owl Drug Company document with the blog audience that announced the acquisition of the Sun Drug Company by the Owl Drug Company of San Francisco.


Apparently the blog audience and others did not consider this document to be important or have any value since there were no comments, discussions, questions, etc. Now if this document were to appear on EBay in the Owl Drug category and had a $10,000.00 price, what do you think would occur. All of a sudden there would be a lot of people trying to understand this item, especially at this price. Viewing what was written in the description, they would stop and ponder why it was priced at that level. But perhaps not! Most people believe that the only value in Owl Drug items is in the bottles or the glass. They have been so conditioned, over the years, by so many who consider themselves experts or the Owl Drug guru, they have failed to even study what Owl Drug and the Owl Drug Company was and is all about.

Five years ago the Owl Drug collectors blog came into existence, extensive research on Owl Drug took place and new ideas, new discoveries, and new concepts were introduced to the bottle world and the bottle hobby. The result of such was that the bottle hobby did not know what to do or how to respond or react to these new ideas and concepts, etc. In the past people who collected Owl Drug thought the only importance of Owl Drug were the company’s bottles, especially the poisons. Low and behold over the past 5 years  a plethora of Owl Drug items including  go-withs, official documents, advertising, newspaper articles, pictures, postcards, signs, stationery, and many more types of information were introduced that have been long overlooked until the blog came on the scene. The following are examples of some the Owl Drug items that we speak of follow in these photos:




Even today most people still concentrate on the glass. Check out Ebay or other venues and one will see very few items are displayed other than glass. Many of these items are misidentified, compromised for their historic authenticity and monetary value, and overpriced. When the seller of such items is questioned as to the condition of the bottle, such as has it been altered in any way, the question is never posted and the seller never answers the question directly or in writing. The failure of sellers to answer these questions occurs not only in online sales but also occurs at bottle shows and at bottle auctions. To Fred Hollabird’s credit, at his latest auction for the FOHBC Sacramento bottle show , his auction catalogue on page 2 states the following: “Collecting these Western items isn’t easy. Collectors will tell you that if you are a condition “freak”, you’ll never get the bottle you want, unless it has been professionally conserved (polished, scratches and chips removed). This is especially true with many of the Western bottles, and is evident here in the sale. We have unique examples of pieces that are not mint – but they are unique or nearly so, and represent a rare opportunity of acquisition.”

First and foremost, those who “professionally conserve” glass in the bottle world are neither professional or conservationist. They are not trained by an institution but tend to be self-taught by trail and error.  They are not required to  have any license by any state or locale to practice this type of work. Conservation, according to institutions that conserve glass objects, such as the Corning Museum, the Smithsonian Institution. Colonial Williamsburg or any other custodian of historical artifacts that include glass objects, etc. must do so with the understanding of using practices and techniques of a minimal intervention to the item. “Minimal intervention refers to not removing or altering any glass object that would compromise said object such as removing any glass from the interior or exterior of the item”. Bottle cleaning machines are not even part of the process of glass conservation, they are in fact negative to the process and barred from being used in the process by known institutions. These machines are found only in the bottle world, per se and nowhere else. They were introduced and never properly evaluated as a positive or a negative effect on the item itself or the hobby as a whole. Most people never questioned the validity or reliability of these machines and the results that occurred from them.

The two Owl Drug photos that follow are 2 examples of bottles. The first example has been altered and can been seen as lot #1062 in the Hollabird auction.


The second example has not been altered.


If one compares the 2 two photos you can notice immediately that the embossed striking of the birds are very different. In the first example the embossing of the birds has been partially removed from the glass indicating that these bottles have been altered in some form. The second example shows the strong embossing of the birds on each and every bottle indicating the bottles were not put through an altering process.

Using these two examples and the phrase “professional conservation” used by Fred Hollabird, he would have concede that the first example did not enhance the bottles but in fact compromised the bottles’ historic authenticity and their monetary value. The idea or attitude that altering a bottle does not compromise a bottle is ridiculous. If in fact altering a bottle is a fantastic and enhancing process, why do sellers continue to hide it, deny it, or both?

DISCLAIMER: All information contained within this blog is copyrighted and the sole property of the Owl Drug Collectors Blog. Reprinting or reproducing any of the information must receive prior permission from the Owl Drug Collectors Blog.

We would first like to acknowledge our many readers from around the world who read our blog on a regular basis. Their constructive comments and suggestions about the subjects we discuss help to encourage our efforts in learning about the bottle hobby and the various people we highlight in the blog week to week. This week we would like to especially acknowledge our readers from Australia.

Our foreign readership view the blog as a positive contribution to understanding the bottle hobby and what it is has to offer. There are some in the US who dismiss the information being presented, often distort what is being said, and make up stories about the blog, its director and staff as well the blog’s mission. Those who dismiss the blog have never tried to learn about the blog, its mission, its goals, and where the blog is going. When the blog has tried to contact those individuals, it is often met with a failure to respond at all or is met with something of a negative nature.

In recognizing our readers from Australia and other parts of the world, let me take a few minutes to discuss the Warner Safe bottle. One of the few bottles produced in the US and exported to other parts of the world was the Warner Safe. One of the Warner Safe bottles is embossed with the word Melbourne and was produced for the Australia market. The Warner 4 cities bottles were produced for the Canadian market. The Warner embossed with the London on it was produced for the UK market. The bottle embossed with Pressburg was produced for the German market. Today Pressburg is known as Bratislava and is located in Slovakia. Warner Safe bottles come in different colors, different shapes, and have a variety of different go-withs and would make an excellent category to collect.

Switching gears, I would like to share with our blog audience a personal story that occurred to me in the 70’s regarding moving a collection. In 1975 I made a decision to relocate.   At that time I was living in Chico, Ca. and was going to relocate back to the East Coast where I grew up. I had family in the area and it was agreed that I could live with them for a short time until I could secure a job, housing of my own, and move on. I owned at the time a 1954 Ford pickup truck. The truck had a four on the floor gearshift with a truck transmission and was much more heavy-duty than a normal three on the column that the truck originally came with. The only problem with this truck as such was that it could not go at high speed, nothing over 50 mph.

Having made the decision to relocate I was forced to decide what I could take with me to make this trip possible. After much thought searching, I decided to take my entire bottle collection and other collectibles. I then began the process of packing up those items I was taking. The entire process of wrapping and packing took several weeks and then I could load them into the pickup truck, keeping the load balanced and safe. A similar example can be used for a semi-trailer truck that one sees tipped over on the side of the road because the load was either improperly loaded or the load shifted and thereby caused the truck to tip over. Loads must be balanced when traveling, a lesson I learned while driving trucks in the service. Today people don’t properly balance their loads when taking a trip. Once loaded my pickup truck was 6 to 8 feet above the truck bed and similar to what a covered wagon looked like as it crossed the plains.

The inside of the truck cab contained all my personal belongings, the few that I could pack into the cab. The only space available in the truck was the small area left for the driver. My visibility was only out the side mirrors and somewhat poor at that.

As I set out on my voyage east the highest speed I could obtain, given the load I was hauling, was between 40 and 50 mph and I could only cover so many miles per day given the load or my motor would overheat or worse. I later learned as I started across country that it was imperative that I carry water and other truck essentials in case of emergencies, especially as you cross the desert and mountains areas.

I set out from Chico, Ca south to Grass Valley/Nevada City, Ca to pick up I-80 and cross over Donner Pass onto Reno, Nv. Originally I thought I could accomplish this part of the trip in one day, but it took several days to just reach Reno. The next leg was from Reno to Salt Lake City, UT across the desert stretching for approximately 500 miles. Having traveled this leg, I realized why so many settlers in the Western migration died, broke down, never got to where they were going or had to be helped by others. Their trip was a true test of endurance, ability and sheer determination.

During the entire trip I never left my truck. I slept and ate in my truck. The trip that I had originally thought would only take a week at the most, actually took a little over two weeks (3800 miles) to complete given the real conditions that I was traveling under.

The entire trip was a real eye opener. It showed me how important my bottles and other collectibles meant to me as well as the hardships I put myself through to make sure they remained safe and intact. When I finally arrived at my parent’s house, they refused to allow me to temporarily store my items. I was forced to rent a storage facility until I could obtain my own housing. This is the first time I have ever shared this story with anyone, much less an audience of this size and nature.

To this day bottles and collectibles remain a high priority to me. Talking to others about bottles, sharing information about bottles, helping others to properly collect bottles have been something I have done all my adult life. Those who disagree with my methodology, my ideas about bottles should make the attempt to get in contact with the blog or me and find out what we all about. Making that contact directly is much better than getting the information second hand or getting it through hearsay where it can be altered, misquoted, or misrepresented.

.DISCLAIMER: All information contained within this blog is copyrighted and the sole property of the Owl Drug Collectors Blog. Reprinting or reproducing any of the information must receive prior permission from the Owl Drug Collectors Blog.

This week the blog will continue with the discussion of the concept of fair market value. As stated before the bottle world has strayed from this core principle as you can see on EBay and at other venues everyday as you check out the prices being requested. So often they are totally out of line from the real value of the bottle based on its current condition and current value.

EBay, in particular has no desire or intent on introducing, maintaining or enforcing fair market value on any of its sales. Its sole concern is making money! EBay has become the bottle world’s main source for buying and selling bottles as well as an area for all collectibles. In a sense the bottle world and its related organizations have lost control to EBay.

Bottle shows, no matter how large or small, cannot compete with EBay. The variety and volume that occurs everyday on EBay dwarfs the variety and volume that appear at bottle shows now, especially since the individual bottle shows occur only once a year. Given the archaic manner in which bottle shows continue to be presented now, there is no way they will ever compete successfully with the electric and technological nature of EBay.

As a multi-million dollar corporation EBay has no concern for the fail market value of an item, the correct description of the item, or even if the item is authentic or not. It is simply in the business to make money. There are no safeguards in the EBay system to protect against manipulation or unfair practices. They claim in their advertising that there are guarantees for the buyers and safeguards for the sellers. Those guarantees and safeguards are at the discretion of the EBay employees. Those employees are not trained to understand and become knowledgeable about all of the items being sold on EBay daily.

Contacting EBay about issues leaves you, the buyer or the seller with five or more different answers to questions asked and that leads to five or more different decisions they may make on a particular item. Each time you contact EBay you get a different person and a different response. Unlike other organizations or corporations, EBay will not allow anyone to contact or discuss anything with the corporate headquarters located in San Jose. Even when you attempt to contact and speak with a member of the corporate management team, you are screened out. They have designed their business to screen out any input from the customer base and the public.   You are left with the EBay low-level employees decision-making and are at their discretion. The decision can vary from any given moment, any given day and/or any given situation.

There seems to be an absence today in reporting and following of the trends occurring in bottle categories, bottles themselves, and pricing. This is particularly true since there are so many bottles and associated items placed on EBay on a daily basis. Most recently, there has been a major shift in Hostetter bitters within the bitters category. More and more Hostetters have appeared on EBay for sale and have been demanding higher and higher price, no matter whether it is, dark green, olive green, or yellow. The prices most recently have jumped from 100-300$ now to 700-1700$, and there is no change to the bottle or its condition. Those current prices being demanded cannot be justified. There is no indication in the description of the true condition of the bottle on sale, for example whether the bottle has been altered or not  Those statements are not generally present.

The following are 4 examples of Hostetter bitters currently on sale on Ebay.  They can be found in the bitters category of bortles.  Under each picture the description of the bottle is presented as written by the seller.


“I have up for sale a nice large size black glass (olive amber) bitters bottle embossed Dr. J.Hostettler’s Stomach Bitters. Great shape with some wear. Bottle right at 9 1/4 inches tall and 3 inches across the base.  Bottle has some inmaking lip roughness that should be mentioned it also has a spider crack that is noticeable with direct light hardly noticeable when sitting .  Bottle has a short neck.  Key mold base. Some scratching from normal age as expected. I have posted a lot of pictures so check them out. Bottle is in asides from the crack the bottle is in good condition. Thanks for looking! “  Price: $499.99


“This great antique glass bottle in a dark olive color and is embossed J. Hostetter’s Stomach Bitter. It has an applied top and dates from the 19th century. It measures approximately 9 inches by +5/8 inches tall and is in excellent condition, no chips or cracks.” $995.00


“This great antique glass bottle is embossed J. Hostetter’s Stomach Bitter and is in a scarce color. It dates from the 19th century 9 inches by 2+5/8 inches square across the bottle. It is in excellent attic mint condition, no chips or cracks.” $1795.00


“Offered for sale is a beautiful, gold-amber Dr. J. Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters. Bottle is 8 ¾ inches tall, with a crude applied top, and the manufacturer’s initials, S. McKee & Co.- 3 (S. McKee & Company of Pittsburgh, PA) Glass is very clean, embossing is very strong, and there is no apparent damage”. $150.00

Why is there such a wide range of prices?   Most of the prices cannot be justified and apparently is at the whim of the seller. Any item that is demanding these prices should have some form of independent documentation to authenticate the item and justify the price. The failure to produce this documentation, that would include its true condition, should tell any potential buyer to avoid these items.

DISCLAIMER: All information contained within this blog is copyrighted and the sole property of the Owl Drug Collectors Blog. Reprinting or reproducing any of the information must receive prior permission from the Owl Drug Collectors Blog.

Those of us in the United States are involved in and watching the political events going on this week at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and will do the same next week at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. These two events are setting the stage for the election of our next president. As part of that process, we listen intently to what the candidates and eventual nominees have to say about themselves and what they want for the people of the United States.

Last night we heard from Donald Trump’s children as they described the attributes of their father. They stated that he was a hard working; no nonsense individual who took on serious issues to become successful in business and in other areas of life. It was stated that he valued hard work, honesty and integrity and was not afraid to get his hands dirty, listen to and support the people who work for him regardless of background, educational level or ethnicity. It is those qualities that have given the United States the name and reputation of “The Melting Pot”. It has allowed this country to reach great heights and great accomplishments. When we stray away from that concept and goal, negative events occur.

How does that relate to bottle collecting? When the bottle  community strays from fundamental principles such as fair market value, honesty and integrity in the collecting, buying and selling of bottles, proper identification of said bottles, and inclusion of all interested people in the hobby of bottle collecting, the hobby suffers.

Fair market value is one of the core principles of bottle collecting. Fair market value is defined as the current value an item is selling for in the market today.   Apparently the bottle world has strayed away from this core principle as you can see on Ebay and at other venues everyday as you check out the prices being requested. So often they are totally out of line from the real value of the bottle based on its current condition and current value. Periodically examples of this type of activity are cited by the blog. This is done to let our readers understand the difference between a properly presented item and one that is improperly presented.

Several weeks ago, the blog presented two examples of important documents related to the acquisition of drug companies by the Owl Drug Company of San Francisco. When such documents or items are presented that have never been placed in the market before, how does one determine its fair market value?   There is a procedure to determine that value however, that procedure seems to be* rarely used in the bottle world today or has gotten lost.

In the weeks ahead the blog will further discuss how the fair market value is determined and/or established when the item has never been introduced into the market before. The blog constantly receives inquiries from our readers regarding why an item is priced at a particular price, and how and why conditions tend to be misrepresented.

Auctions play an important role in establishing fair market value. This week the blog received a copy of Holabird Americana Collections, LLC auction catalogue. The auction represented by the catalogue will be held in several weeks in Sacramento, Ca. First and foremost, thank you to Fred and his staff for including the blog in receiving a copy of this catalogue. For those recipients of the catalogue suggest you read the entire catalogue, especially pages 2 and 3 to understand how this auction will function and what you can expect.

In the arena of auctions, the introduction of on-line auctions 15 -20 years ago have changed the auction world and bottle auctions in particular. Technology has allowed auctions to occur in one geographic area while its participants can be located around the world using a variety of access from the phone to the Internet. Clarity, precise descriptions, and fair market estimates become requirements since buyers often submit their bids without physically seeing the items. Buyers expect the auction service to provide that type of presentation. Too frequently that presentation is not what the buyer sees despite the fees they are required to pay.

Too often bottle services and other venues fail to keep current with fair market values. They are using prices that are 10 years old or older and are not consistent with the current market value of the day. The market value on bottles is currently down except in special categories. The prices requested by sellers today are not representative of what prices should be charged. Many times they are fabricated and unrealistic and solely based on what the seller hopes to obtain and not what they are really worth.

DISCLAIMER: All information contained within this blog is copyrighted and the sole property of the Owl Drug Collectors Blog. Reprinting or reproducing any of the information must receive prior permission from the Owl Drug Collectors Blog.

We often hear and talk about collections, be it art, music, and even bottles, but we never think about what the word collection actually means. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the term collection means: “an accumulation of objects gathered for study, comparison, or exhibition or as a hobby”. People collect objects for study and even the enjoyment of having the items in one’s possession often looking at them fondly. We concentrate on a particular aspect of the objects. With regard to bottles, some collected them for their color, their shape, the manufacturer or the company that produce them, or even for the history of the bottles that made them unique. Because the collecting of bottles is so large in scope, most collectors narrowed their collection to a specific category such as whiskeys, bitters, sodas, medicines, etc. Even within those categories, the selection of items, most often the items are narrowed down even more. Traditionally people search for the items in that category at places like flea markets, bottle shows, or other venues that may contain those items, as well as seeking individuals who are knowledgeable about them.

The art of collecting from its very beginnings never concentrated on making a profit. The purpose was to collect the items and not to gather them for the purpose of buying and selling them to make a profit. The collecting process has changed in the past 20 to 25 years from one of collecting objects for oneself as a primary goal to today the collecting process is geared to buying and selling for profit.   Most of the bottle-related institutions, such as bottle shows and bottle auctions are set up to facilitate this end.

The advent of the Internet and electronic bottle auctions have accelerated the practice of buying and selling of bottles and related merchandise, unfortunately they have not kept up with the technological changes. That is not say that this process is wrong, it is just where it is currently. As is other areas, institutions and individuals have not been able to keep pace with the rapid changes created and advanced by technology. The bottle world still generally operates in an archaic modality. There have been some changes but very few. The reason this maybe true is because most of the bottle collectors are 50 plus and operate with a different mind set and for the most part have an inability to operate in this ever changing fast moving highly technological world we live in today.

Years ago people depended upon the newspapers and magazines to provide them with the latest news and events. The addition of TV in the late 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s brought news and events into our homes much quicker and faster. Today the computer and Internet allow us to get instantaneous news at our fingertips supplanting the printed page. Newspapers and magazines now produce their items on the Internet for us to see as soon as the event takes place. For those who can access this technological world and operate in it, information and acquisition is faster and more efficient than anytime in the past. The older generations marvel at the younger generation in their ability to rapidly and expertly manipulate technology. A perfect example is the dexterity by which this younger generation operates video games, cell phones, and computers.

When you go to the library, an older person either reads the newspaper or accesses the card catalogue files to find his specific subject area, etc. A younger person, college or high school age brings his laptop with him and searches the information desired on both his laptop and the digitally formatted information of the library and rarely uses a card file. The information gathered through electronic methods is more extensive and more rapidly obtained. Libraries and other institutions are rapidly converting to technological methods from those used in the past.

Today in the bottle world, we are at a crossroads. The collecting process has been and continues to undergo changes. As we pointed out above, many do not understand the problems and issues, they don’t want to accept it and resist it, thinking that it will disappear or blow over.   Those who feel that way are wrong; change will continue to occur regardless of their resistance. At the time horses were used for transportation, many people resisted the introduction of the car. Low and behold the car took over and replaced the horse. Today the car is an example of how technological advances have occurred in the car. It can tell the driver when he has backed his car up and where to stop. Some cars can even parallel park the car, etc. Most of the top selling cars, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, etc. are technologically advanced. They are equipped with computer chips that control the car’s operation that people only dreamed about 25 years ago. Change occurs because people want change. It makes life more efficient and can make aspects of life easier. People demand the technological changes recognizing how they can make life easier and allow more freedom and choice.

The traditional collection that one generally thinks about is rapidly disappearing and no longer relevant to the bottle collecting process. Having hundreds or thousands of bottles in one’s collection is not something young people think about. Their mind set is more mobile and fast moving and their collections, if at all, must meet those criteria. Those collections must contain more than jut bottles it must contain different elements. What do you readers believe a new collection should contain?

We wish to acknowledge once again the continued strong readership from countries around the world and those of you who are new to the blog.

DISCLAIMER: All information contained within this blog is copyrighted and the sole property of the Owl Drug Collectors Blog. Reprinting or reproducing any of the information must receive prior permission from the Owl Drug Collectors Blog.

First and foremost, the blog wishes to extend our sympathies and well wishes for a fast recovery to Ferdinand Meyer, president of the FOHBC and his family as well as all those in the path of the floods in Houston, Texas. We recognize and sympathize with you Ferdinand in having to move one’s collection due to circumstances beyond your control as a result of Mother Nature.

Moving a large collection is not an easy or simple feat no matter what reason it has to be done, whether it is Mother Nature, illness in a family, moving, or economic reasons just to name a few. The choice of what pieces of a collection or the entire collection to be moved is not an easy decision. Often times that collection has taken years to accumulate and each item becomes precious to the collector.

Once a decision is made as to what pieces are to be moved, the next major decision is what to do with the collection. Should the items be broken up or should the entire collection be moved? What should the collector do with his collection? Should he take it all with him, donate it to an institution or museum, or give it to ones children as part of their heritage or legacy? Of course, there is always the possibility that the children don’t even want the collection. So what does the collector do? Try to sell it or pieces of it? Do you put it on Ebay as we often see now? Do you put it in a bottle show or auction? Do you keep it and hope for the best?

As bottle collectors have aged, the question of what to do with their collections, for many, has become paramount. For the most part these collectors apparently ignore the question of what to do until they can no longer put it aside. As in the case of Ferdinand who is now forced to make a decision about his collections due to Mother Nature, others do not to know what to do or who or where to turn to for help. If they belong to a bottle club they turn to other members for assistance and guidance. Often the clubs are not structured for that kind of assistance or guidance. If the collector is a member of the FOHBC, is there a vehicle in the organization to provide that kind of assistance or guidance?

The advent of a natural disaster or family or economic crisis occurs quite often when we are least prepared to cope with the events. As collectors we should have prepared or prepare contingency plans for our collections. By doing so, when or if a disaster hits we can cope with it intelligently and successfully without trauma or undue stress. Bottle-related organizations should have avenues in which collectors can draw upon expertise in advising or guiding collectors to be able to deal with their collections during times of crisis.

People’s collections have grown and changed over the years that they have collected the items. These collections must be maintained and updated on a regular basis to reflect current condition, value, validity, and authenticity. More often than not, collections are not properly maintained, updated, or current with today’s prices and other realities.   Last week a blue cobalt Owl Drug poison was highlighted and sold on Ebay. The item was described as rare. When the seller was questioned why he considered the bottle rare, his answer was because the item was dug and it was the first one that he had ever dug or found after many years of digging. Question: is that what makes a bottle rare? In his mind it was. Since there is no universal definition of rare in the bottle world, this seller’s answer is as good as any. Therefore, how the seller prices his bottles is just as acceptable since so many others do the same. The other examples highlighted last week where the prices were $1795.00 and $5795.00 fall into the same realm of sales – there is no uniformity or standard for rarity and prices.

As a result overpricing occurs due to the lack of standards or accurate conditions, rarity, or value present. Bottles for sale often stay on Ebay and other venues for weeks and months at a time never selling because of their price and inaccurate descriptions and conditions. This is defined as “bottle stagnation”. Since they stagnate on these sites for months and even years at a time, they contribute to the creation of a pool of unwanted bottles and strangle out legitimate bottles and other items that are properly presented and for sale.

Several weeks ago the blog highlighted two documents related to the takeover of drug companies by the Owl Drug Company. A collection of Owl Drug Company items must include important documentation such as these two examples. Without such documentation an Owl Drug Company collection is a limited collection that is lacking in substance and importance. It fails to give a complete picture of Owl Drug or even other categories of bottles. Is a collection just a collection of glass?   In the weeks ahead we will further examine what constitutes a collection.

DISCLAIMER: All information contained within this blog is copyrighted and the sole property of the Owl Drug Collectors Blog. Reprinting or reproducing any of the information must receive prior permission from the Owl Drug Collectors Blog.

Last week while surfing the Internet I ran across a triangular Owl Drug poison bottle. The seller stated the following in his description: UP FOR AUCTION IS A RARE OWL DRUG CO. COBALT BLUE POISON BOTTLE NO CHIPS OR CRACKS. I asked the seller the following question: is this a dug bottle/stain inside and outside? what makes it rare? color, condition, size. explain. The following was his answer.   “I dug bottles most of my life in California and have personally collected owl drug company items and out of all the common bottles to dig a cobalt owl poison is hard bottle to dig or even find”.


Unfortunately many in the bottle world overuse the term “rare” in describing their bottles for sale to the point now that the term “rare” is so liberally used that a potential buyer has to question the validity of the “rare” claim. The definition of “rare” is the following: “marked by unusual quality, merit, or appeal; distinctive; superlative or extreme of its kinds; seldom occurring or found; uncommon”. When one refers to bottle collecting the term “rare” has the same definition as above but qualifies the term by noting that 5 or fewer of the item has been found.

Within the Owl Drug category the term “rare” is continually overused and misused. Sellers quite often fail to identify the true condition of the bottles, other than showing them in photographs or stating that there are no chips or cracks. They fail to alert any potential buyer that the item has been altered, thereby changing its historical authenticity and its monetary value forever.   When the seller fails to identify the bottle’s true condition as being altered, he misrepresents the item to any potential buyer.

There are numerous examples of this misrepresentation; one such example is item #37148160284 being sold on Ebay. The seller makes claims about this item stating that he believes his claims to be true. Where is the documentation to validate these claims? Not by this seller. Where is his research, information from a noted institution or government agency, or published books? The seller may claim that the 1968 Jensen book is his source of validation. The Jensen book has been proved to be incomplete and inaccurate. It is not based on historical records, agencies, or company documents. Therefore it is not a valid source from which to make any claims from.   The seller also states that he believes that this item was only sold in the 1128 Market Street store. He has no records to support that belief. In fact the item was sold in other Owl Drug stores outside of San Francisco and there is documentation to proof that fact.

Two additional examples shown on Ebay have staring prices that are somewhat expensive. The question one must ask is what makes these 2 examples worthy of these “buy it now” prices? Are the sellers giving any potential buyers enough justification to warrant these “buy it now” prices?


Item m# 231985872052 Hostetter “Buy it Now” $1,795.00


Item # 231985831268 Myers Rock Rose “Buy it Now ” $5,795.00

In the weeks ahead we will be discussing what makes a valid collection in 2016 and beyond. What should a potential collector and potential buyer look for? What questions should they be asking? And certainly what price range should be acceptable?

DISCLAIMER: All information contained within this blog is copyrighted and the sole property of the Owl Drug Collectors Blog. Reprinting or reproducing any of the information must receive prior permission from the Owl Drug Collectors Blog

There are many myths that have swirled around the bottle world for many years about the Owl Drug Company of San Francisco. Stories have been circulated about this company without proper research and verification of fact versus hearsay. In the past those who collected Owl Drug bottles and products used the Jensen book as their main source of information. The information provided in that book was, in many ways, inaccurate and misleading beside the fact that it was incomplete.

As an Owl Drug collector for many years, I realized that the information about this company and its products was incomplete and undocumented It became quite apparent that proper and thorough research needed to be done so that us Owl Drug collectors could learn more about the company and products we were collecting and loved. The motivation to do extensive research, and eventually write books about what we learned is exactly why the 3 Owl Drug Handbooks became a reality.

Despite the numerous attempts to discredit the blog and its director, no one else has ever produced information or books about Owl Drug, its history, its products, its leadership, its policies, its growth and takeover of other drug companies that has been supported by proper research, factual information, documentation, and photographs.   There are some who profess to be experts in the Owl Drug category but who cannot provide proof or verification by documentation of what they present or discuss. The blog has provided numerous examples of Owl Drug that have been put up for sale in various venues that cannot be substantiated with documents or proof of the claims made or the prices requested. Are buyers or potential buyers expected to accept whatever a seller claims without any test or verification that is acceptable to all?

Within the Owl Drug category of collectibles there are subcategories such a glass, paper goods, beauty products, products for the home, advertisements, policies, and various forms of documentation. Documentation plays a paramount role in the Owl Drug Company, its incorporation, its leadership, its policies, practices, and procedures, its takeover of other drug companies, and yes, even its disappearance. Just collecting the documentation side of Owl Drug would make a significant and important collection. In fact these documents would be more valuable than collecting the “so-called” prestigious poison bottles and other bottles, considering how these bottles and other bottles have been altered or abused over the years, thereby causing them to lose their historical authenticity and monetary value.

The documents presented in this blog posting are two examples of important documents we discovered through research on Owl Drug several years ago. As far as we know we are the only ones who have copies of these documents, know where they are located and can reference them.


The second example of documentation and therefore also of direct linkage supports the historical event of Owl Drug and the acquisition of The Sun Drug Company of Los Angeles. These two companies became one company controlled by the Owl Drug Company leadership. It brought together the two largest independent drug companies into one.

The Sund Drug Co now owned by the Owl Drug Co. (LA Times 10 February 1924)

How do we measure the importance of these documents historically, monetarily, and otherwise? We measure them against other historic documents and their impact on history, culture, and people. At the time this occurred the Owl Drug Company was one of the largest employers on the West Coast. Their disappearance impacted the economies of numerous cities and states as well as the employees directly that worked for the company and the companies that sold goods and services to Owl Drug. That impact was felt primarily on the West Coast and filtered eastward.

The acquisition of the Sun Drug Company by the Owl Drug Company was during a period of major acquisitions and growth by many companies throughout the United States. The future, as proclaimed by many in the business world, was ROSIE and sure to continue to grow and prosper. 1929 came along and the stock market crashed. The impact was first felt in the East and made its way to the West Coast. The depression that followed brought an end to prosperity and the growth and even survival of many companies, including the Owl Drug Company. Like many companies the Owl Drug Company was also unprepared for what was to follow. Today we see similar events occurring not only in the United States but also worldwide.

A company’s documents, however, serve as proof of their existence and importance. As such these documents maintain a higher level of importance or value than any product produced by the company.

In the weeks ahead the blog will discuss what constitutes a valid collection in 2016 and beyond. The collection of 2016 should be very different than collections of 5, 10 or even 15 years ago. Look forward to hearing from our readers.

DISCLAIMER: All information contained within this blog is copyrighted and the sole property of the Owl Drug Collectors Blog. Reprinting or reproducing any of the information must receive prior permission from the Owl Drug Collectors Blog.


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