Last week the blog discussed standards, and the who, what, where, when, and how of standards. Where does one go if someone wishes to know what “standards” are currently in place or exist? As of now, nowhere. Standards in the bottle world are incomplete or non-existent.   There is no source or place a person in the bottle world could go to get an answer that a majority in the bottle world would accept.

This week the blog turns its attention to pricing. Just as we see the lack of standards, so too is the issue of pricing. Here too there is no source to determine the proper price of an item in the bottle world. Looking at owl drug bottles being sold on Ebay, as an example, one sees the same bottle with the same conditions listed being sold for different prices. In effect there is no rationale as to how these prices are determined and requested. A glaring example is the one wing triangular cobalt Owl drug poison. One such example of this bottle appears on Ebay every day. Whether the sizing is different or the same the pricing varies from example to example. The individual selling the item determines its price no matter if that item is a duplicate of some other seller’s item and has a totally different price.

It is not the role of the blog to correct each and every item placed on Ebay in the Owl Drug category, or other categories, however, this blog will share with the audience when a situation is so bad or a member of this blog audience brings the item to the blog’s attention to comment on or needs clarification as we have done in the past. The blog’s role is to inform and educate.

Returning to the subject of pricing, one wonders if the buyer just accepts what the seller states as the price no matter whether it is reasonable or fair. It seems, that the only way that the price is considered too high is if that item does not sell. If at an auction, Ebay or otherwise, an item is put up for sale, the only fair pricing would be if the item started to sell at $9.99 and then the bidding would take it where the buyer(s) wanted it to go. Setting an arbitrary price is one that is left to the seller to determine whether it is fair or not. Often items are being sold at unbelievable prices that have never been appraised at their proper value. So now what is the difference between an appraisal and a manipulation of price? Experts in various fields of collecting make appraisals.   A furniture appraiser does not appraise jewelry, glassware, china, tools, or toys. He or she is specifically an expert in generally one area only. When an item is part of two or more areas, the appraiser will ask other experts in the field for their opinion and will come up with a joint appraisal. A perfect example can be seen on the TV show – Antiques Roadshow. For those of you who have not seen the show, catch a program or two. It will be very informative.

Legitimate appraisers always provide written documentation of the item they have examined and that appraisal is written on official stationery. The information contained in an appraisal is: description of the item; the artist; the maker; the manufacturer; the age of the item; rarity or common; and a range of value. The reason a range of value is given such as $2,000 to $4,000 is because no person can determine the exact value of an item. An expert must give a range because there are too many factors that can influence the price outcome when the item is put up for sale at an auction.

Manipulation of price refers to any person who puts a price on an item regardless of age, condition, rarity, description, quality, or maker. He alone determines the price based on what he thinks he should get out of the item. There is no thought given to the true value of the item itself. In many cases the individual has no idea what the true value is even when it is pointed out to him. In the Owl Drug category there are many items that have never been put up for sale and therefore their true value has never been established. This is one of the reasons why this category of collecting is so unique.

In the history of Owl Drug there were two glass companies that provided glass items for the Owl Drug Company of San Francisco. Of the two companies, the one company most used was W.T.Co., an abbreviation for Whitehall Tatum. As long as the Owl Drug Company was headquartered in San Francisco, Pacific Glass and Whitehall Tatum Glass Company were the two primary glass manufacturers. When the Owl Drug Company headquarters was moved to Chicago, Owl Drug changed glass manufacturers to Owen Glass. Owen Glass used a diamond embossed emblem with the letter I in the middle of the diamond and a numerical figure. These emblems are found only on Owl Drug items made in the Midwest. These items are much rarer with few of them produced.

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 we be focusing   the discussion on “standards” and why they are important. Is there a standard return policy on goods and services in Western Europe? The answer is no. In France, for example there is a no return policy on goods. In EU countries there is no set standard return policy on goods despite an EU directive. Some countries and some businesses within these countries follow the EU directive on returns and others do not. Some small companies within these countries create their own return policies, if they have any at all. In Eastern Europe and in Asia there apparently is no return policy on goods and no literature to verify the existence or non-existence of returns for merchandise purchased. Therefore, buyers beware. The responsibility falls entirely on the buyer.

As I returned to active collecting after many years to the bottle world, I recognized that there was no uniform or standard return policy on bottles, if it existed at all. In my discussion with numerous people about this very subject, the most common answer was “beats me”. They commented that they never thought about and would not know what to do or where to go. There was no central source or location in which to deal with this problem. For example, when a person suspects something is wrong or going wrong, their first instinct is to contact the police or fire department. The 911 contact number is exactly why it was created. In the bottle world there is no such mechanism or contact point. There is no such standard for returns when bottles are purchased at bottle shows, bottle auctions, flea markets or other venues. If one inquires, what answers would one get? The same answers such as never thought about it, has never come up, or there is no return, all sales are final.

There is no standard for accurate or inaccurate labels, labeling, descriptions or conditions of bottles no matter where these bottles are bought or sold, be it bottle shows, auctions, flea markets, EBay, or other venues. The following are examples of two poison bottles, one with an accurate label and description and the other with an inaccurate label and description. These two bottles exemplify that lack of a uniform standard on bottles. The lack of standards is a common occurrence where bottles are bought, sold, and even traded.



Where should one go to get the answer as to which label is accurate and which one is inaccurate and why? Why should a person bid on a bottle if there is no documentation or proof to verify the seller’s description, condition, or general information about the bottle he is selling? Just because a person states that the bottle is genuine, but cannot provide any authentication of his claim, why should a buyer or potential buyer accept that? Is that how one should buy bottles? What protection does the buyer have? Many products produced in the US or sold by US companies, have warrantees or guarantees as well as service contracts to protect the buyer. These warrantees or service contracts run for several years or so many miles. Cars are perfect examples of buyer warrantees or service contracts provided to a buyer. If a person buys a bottle for $100.00 or more, the buyer should receive a warrantee or guarantee on that bottle for a given period of time. As such it would set a standard for future bottle purchases and avoid chaos, confusion, and misrepresentation. At the present time in 2016, there is way too much chaos, confusion, and misrepresentation in the bottle world as these triangular poison bottles point out.


Switching gears. As a collector of West Coast memorabilia for many years, West Coast history and their different cultures have intrigued me. Most recently I have added the following examples to my West Coast collection.



Both photos show San Francisco at different times in its history. San Francisco, the home of the Owl Drug Company was also known for the many contributions of the Chinese immigrants and citizens of the city throughout the years. Most of the Chinese immigrants began to come to the West Coast in the 1860’s and 1870’s up to the 1900’s and settled in California, Nevada, and other parts of the West.

Collectors of Chinese memorabilia tend to concentrate their collections on Chinese pottery, glass, and other everyday items found in a Chinese home. There are many other items available to a collector that will add to a collection giving it more variety and importance. Many of the Chinese were lured away from San Francisco by the discovery of gold and the advent of the railroad. They worked in the mines and worked on building the railroad. As a result of these workers, small settlements were established along the 49er trail and today those settlements have become small communities, such as Colfax, Placerville, and Angels camp, just to name a few.

Like the Owl Drug Company that expanded its stores to other parts of California and to Seattle, Washington, the Chinese also moved to other parts of California and as far north as Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington leaving their mark as they moved northward. They also moved eastward to Nevada helping to settle Lake Tahoe and Virginia City. As the mining camps and train building camps moved East, so too did the Chinese workers.

For those of you who may be interested in learning more about the Chinese in America, we suggest the following books:

The Chinese-American Heritage by David M. Brownstone;

The Chinese in America, A Narrative History by Iris Chang; and

The Chinese in America: A History from Gold Mountain to the New Millennium by Susan Lan Cassel.

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.

The world we live in today is greatly affected by technology and in some sense it controls much of our lives. Each day we see or learn about new technological advances. It seems there is no end to the changes we see and will continue to see. As bottle collectors our bottle world has also changed dramatically.

Let us look at some of these changes that have occurred. The cell phone has allowed people to be in contact with one another and conduct buying and selling of bottles and collectibles from all over the world. The Internet and the introduction of websites and blogs allow us to read articles, view upcoming events, research subjects of interest, purchase and sell merchandise, and connect with people throughout the world. Face book and twitter have opened avenues of communication older generations never thought about and in some cases do not know how to use or refuse to use. Years ago you had to be present to participate in auctions. Today you can view the items up for auction on line, watch how the bidding takes place, place your bids on the cell phone and then watch to see the final bids and whether you have won or not. Another technological advance is the “SQUARE”. For someone in business, it has eliminated the need for electrical credit machines and printers. Instead a seller no matter where he is located, particularly if he is at a show or auction, can process a credit card transaction using the Square. It is especially convenient because buyers no longer have to carry large sums of money with them when trying to buy collectibles.

Goals and plans of action should be important aspects in everyone’s life. As parents we try to encourage our children to set goals and have a plan of action for their education, how to accomplish it, and work toward what position they want to attain. As adults we should try to set goals for the next year, the next five years and so on. Some people don’t label these goals as plans of action but instead call it “a bucket list” or something else.

As bottle or collectible collectors we too should have plans of action. This plan will help you decide what to buy, how to buy, when to buy, and where to buy. It will allow you to categorize the different areas of collecting that you are interested in. As part of the plan you should establish a monetary limit per item as well as what condition of the item is acceptable. For example the cost of most of the items would be less than $50.00 and would be in mint or near mint condition. Using this plan of acquiring these items should not interfere with the family and its budget. It would allow the family to continue as it had without severely, if at all changing, one’s life style. There should not be a severe impact on the family at all. It should be similar to setting up a savings plan.

Documents relating to drug companies, such as the Owl Drug, Sun Drug, Rexall, Liggett, United, and Walgreen to name a few, are extremely important. This documentation plays a paramount role in the companies’ startup, incorporation, leadership, policies, practices, procedures, takeover of other drug companies, and even in their disappearance. The failure to include documentation in one’s collections, if available, makes the collection incomplete. In most drug categories documentation is available and can be found.

Using the Owl Drug Company of San Francisco as an example, the following document, known as document #460, clearly identifies many of the major officers both of the corporation and the board of directors. You can see their names and positions in the letterhead of the document as well as the presence of the signature of RE Miller, principal leader of the company and one of the original founders of the Owl Drug Company of San Francisco. It is unique and is defined as a historical document.



A closer examination of the aforementioned document shows a unique letterhead know as the “flying owl”



This picture of the “flying owl” was the first symbol used by the Owl Drug Company of San Francisco to bring attention the Owl Drug store and its products. It was first used in 1892 and disappeared in 1906. After 1906 the “flying owl” was replaced with another symbol. The lettering displayed in this picture disappeared in 1906 as well. The “odd O” in the word Owl was written this way to prevent others from copying or faking it for use in other products that could be sold. At first glance the O may look lie a G but on closer inspection it is definitely an O written in the old English manner or style. Nothing was left to chance; it was all planned and designed according to their specifications. The sole purpose of these designs was to catch the attention of the customer and have their products and company’s name become part of the consumer’s memory. It was definitely an advertising strategy.   This design, like the document before, has been identified as a historic entity.

For those of you who have plans of action for collecting, it is essential for you to periodically update those plans and make the necessary changes. Don’t forget to include documentation and advertising items in your acquisitions.

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 posted a Tribute to Arnold Palmer, a golf and philanthropic legend, on his death.   Mr. Palmer had an enormous impact not only on golfers, the golf game, but also on people in general. He is considered the most important and influential golfer and individual spanning the 1960’s until his death on Sunday October 2, 2016. For those who keep track of the decades, Mr. Palmer’s influence spanned 5 decades, a record that will be hard to match or surpass.

On Tuesday 4 October 2016, the golf channel to which he was a co-founder, aired a memorial service in his honor. The service was held at St Vincent Basilica Parish at St Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. Latrobe was of course Mr. Palmer’s hometown.   Family and close friends and associates of Arnold Palmer filled the Basilica to capacity. Some of the people present included legends of golf, business associates, PGA officials, member of the press, some government officials, and members of the golf channel. Many gave speeches about Mr. Palmer and their associations with him. Some of the most moving and heart warming speeches were given by Annika Sorenson, Jack Nicklaus, Jim Nance, Charlie Mechem, Tim Finchem, and Peter Dawson of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, Vince Gill, and last but certainly not least Sam Saunders, Mr. Palmer’s grandson. The audience shared laughter and tears as individuals got up to speak. Vince Gill played his guitar and sang “You’ve Got A Friend”. He told the audience that he was told by Mr. Palmer that he was his favorite singer, but then said that since Mr. Palmer was hard of hearing, he probably never heard the words of any song Vince sang.

As a golf enthusiast, I was very moved by the speeches and stories told by so many of Mr. Palmer’s family and associates. What Arnold Palmer did for golf and for his philanthropic endeavors will last much longer than his lifespan. He is truly a legend in every sense of the word. His generosity and caring about all people, common or otherwise, places him in a very special place and serves as an example for others to follow.

Switching gears, let us turn out attention to the bottle category of medicines. Medicines tend to be a less popular category among bottle collectors. Some examples of companies that specialized in medicine were The Owl Drug Company of San Francisco, The Sun Drug Company of Los Angeles, Rexall, an national and international company, and Walgreen’s just the name a few. Not only did these companies specialize in medicines but they also expanded the product base to complement their medicines. They had and still have a huge impact on the drug industry and the country in general. Each of these companies started as corporations as opposed to being family owned, single owned or partnership. As the years progressed and changes to the drug industry occurred, many of these single owner drug stores went out of business or were gobbled up by the larger drug corporations.

On of the problems bottle collectors of medicines deal with is the fact that there are so many examples of products, besides glass, these corporations produced or had produced for them. Thereby knowing what to collect, and how to collect can make it very confusing and difficult. A perfect example is the selection of Rexall products on sale on Ebay alone numbering in the thousands. Which ones do you choose? That choice can be very difficult if you do not know the history of the company and when the item was produced. Obviously the earlier items can be more valuable and tend to be.

Another example was shared several weeks ago with the blog. The document announcing the acquisition of the Sun Drug Company by the Owl Drug Company is very important in the history of both companies. Having this document in one’s possession adds significantly to any collection of medicines, particularly to Owl Drug or Sun Drug collectors.

Another dimension that adds to the confusion of what medicines to collect is the addition of medicines produced by companies of other countries, such as the Great Britain, Australia, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands to name a few. Most American collectors of medicines have little or no knowledge of foreign medicine producing companies and therefore are unable to classify them within their own collections.

One example that confuses people is the Warner Safe bottles and go-withs . These bottles are collected here in the States as a separate category, a category unto itself. The fact that Warner Safe items are part of the medicine category is often dismissed or disregarded by American Warner Safe collectors. Many of the Warner Safe bottles were produced in other countries such as Australia, Germany, Great Britain, and Pressburg, Hungary. They tend to be the scarcest, most valuable, most popular, and most collectible. The Pressburg Warner Safe office lasted only 2 years, making these bottles more scarce and therefore more valuable. The reason why Americans collect these bottles and why people from other nations collect them are different. Americans tend to collect these bottles because they are scarce and more valuable while people from other nations collect them because they are symbols of their own counties, are examples of nationalism and view history and antiques from a different perspective.

In the weeks ahead we will discuss more features about the medicine category. In addition to bottles, we will highlight other products, go-withs, advertising, and historical insights.

 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 a true legend passed away –Arnold Palmer. Just as Elvis Presley was known as the king of rock and roll, so too, Arnold Palmer was known as the “King” in the gold world. He was one of the most popular golf stars and an important trailblazer, coming along when the sports television age began in the 1950’s.

Arnold was born and raised in Latrobe, Pa, where he maintained a home and lived there until his death. He was a man of humble beginnings. His father was the superintendent and then golf pro at the Latrobe country and golf club. It was in Latrobe that Arnold learned the game of golf by working with and being trained by his father. Upon graduation from high school he went to Wake Forest University on a golf scholarship. In his senior year, Arnold left Wake Forest when his close friend died in an automobile accident, a car ride that Arnold was supposed be part of, but refused to participate. Arnold then joined the Coast Guard where he served for three years.

In 1954 he returned to his first love – golf as an amateur. He won the 1954 US Amateur Championship and decided to turn pro and signed a contract with Wilson Sporting Goods. In 1955 he won his first tournament, the Canadian Open and he was on his way. In 1960 he won the first of four Masters and the phrase “Arnie’s Army” came into existence. Throughout his career he won 96 tournaments including 4 Masters, 2 British Opens, 1 US Open and ranks 6th of all professional golfers and was the first golfer to win one million dollars in one season. He participated in 6 Ryder cup competitions between the US and European countries and was a player caption in 2 such competitions.   He participated in the Senior Open, a relatively new addition to golf competition devoted to golfers over 50. He won 10 tournaments on the Senior tour and two of which were Senior Opens.

Arnold’s social impact on behalf of golf is perhaps unrivaled among fellow golf professionals who revere him and in many ways have tried to emulate him. As a man of humble beginnings he never lost sight of the people or his family throughout his life. He was plain spoken and could feel comfortable among common folk, presidents, and kings. His popularity never wavered and he never lost sight of his fans. Arnold was instrumental in changing the perception of golf as an elite, upper class pastime to a more populist sport accessible to the middle and working classes.

In addition to his golfing activities, Arnold and his business partner contacted corporations and businesses encouraging them to sponsor golfers and golf tournaments. Arnold was one of the first such golfers to be sponsored by companies and to advertise their products. Today we see golfers all over the TV channels advertising companies and products. During tournaments golfers wear shirts and caps promoting the names of corporation sponsors such Addios, Nike, Waste Management, FedEx; Mutual of Omaha, UPS, etc. Arnold was responsible for popularizing and commercializing golf not only in the US but also around the world.

Besides Arnold’s business endeavors, he was instrumental in developing the Golf Channel for television. It is a 24-hour channel that can be seen not only in the United States but can be seen around the world. The channel televises golf tournaments including professional, amateur, and collegiate tournaments. It also provides educational programs and special programs that interview golfers and other athletes and politicians, especially those who support golf and are sponsors of golf. There are also programs about new golf equipment and clothing. This week, for example, the 41st Ryder cup, a competition between a team from the US and a team representing European countries will be presented on the Golf Channel.

Another of Arnold’s business enterprises is the design and building of golf courses both here in the US and abroad. He was the first architect and builder to build a golf course in the People’s Republic of China. Today over 200 golf courses have been the product of Arnold Palmer and his business partners. Other golf professionals have followed suit in the construction of golf courses in the states and abroad, but it was Arnold Palmer who blazed the trail and set the standard for others to follow.

In addition to his outstanding contributions to the world of golf, Arnold has distinguished himself as philanthropist extraordinaire. Two hospitals bear his name and are devoted to providing health care to those in need especially women, children, and infants. One such hospital is in Latrobe, Pa. and the other in Orlando, Fl. These hospitals are but just two examples of the generosity and philanthropic efforts of the man.

Among Arnold’s many achievements, he was a first class pilot for over 50 years. He was the first to fly his own plane to golf tournaments and other events. During his career he owned and piloted 9 airplanes and logged over 25,000 miles free of any accidents. He combined his love of flying with golf, using his plane to travel from one tournament to another as well as other business or social activities, no matter where they were located. One of his first loves was flying and he state that if he did make it in the golf world he claims he would have devoted his career to flying.

He was the recipient of numerous awards: World Golf Hall of Fame; the Vardon trophy 4 times, PGA Golfer of the Decade, Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was one of two men who have won the Congressional Medal of Honor, the other being Byron Nelson from the game of golf.

He never forgot his humble beginnings or the concept of giving back. He always found time for his fans and supporters. He was devoted to his family and his hometown of Latrobe, Pa. He never lost sight of Latrobe and although he traveled around the world, Latrobe was forever his home and his roots. At the end he was in Latrobe when her became ill. He was rushed to a Pittsburgh hospital where he unfortunately passed away.

The passing of Arnold Palmer is a great loss to the world of golf, to his family and fans around the world. Golf is strong enough now to weather this loss. Hopefully others will step up to fill the void. He has shown the way, it is now others responsibility to step up and take the gauntlet he has left for them and move it on.

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.


September 22, 2016

A favorite part of the bottle hobby should digging for old bottles and artifacts. Now that we are moving into the fall season it is a perfect time to go digging. The spring and fall of the year tend to have the best conditions to commence digging. It is generally cool and the ground, for the most part, is soft enough to dig whether you dig in the ground or a privy or another location where artifacts or bottles could be found.

There are certain preparations one must complete before you can commence digging. You must begin by doing research to locate a potential site. A good starting point is the local library. If a state or local university library is located in your town or nearby, you should go there as well. In many instance the library could have information related to maps, historic sites, old dumps, and old sections of communities that may be available for you to look at and copy.

Another possibility for information is going to city or state government organizations where directories of property ownership are available. Once having reviewed that information you now may able to narrow it down to one, two or three sites to potentially dig in. Having obtained that information you must then get permission from the property owners or local//state authorities that own or manage the area you wish to dig in. Quite often it is not possible to get permission from a state or local authority due to the nature of the land and regulations, thereby prohibiting anyone from disturbing the land by digging. Failure to get permission in advance can create a legal liability and the consequences associated with this improper activity. It is for this reason that many in the bottle hobby today often find themselves in a negative situation, thereby unfortunately often giving diggers in the hobby a bad reputation and bad name.

Knowing where to dig is just as important as how to properly dig. The proper selection of where to dig will often give you rewards, just as the improper selection of a digging site will leave you with nothing but dirt or sand. In other words, it will not produce anything of interest or value. It can turn out to be an outing of anger and frustration.

The best place to start a digging adventure should be close to where you live if that is possible, such as within a 100-mile radius. Just as important as where to dig and how to dig, it is also important to have the proper tools for digging. The following is a suggestion of some of the equipment, both for personal protection and digging, that are needed for such an outing: backpack; cell phone; bottles of water; food; safety glasses; first aid kit; gloves; flashlight; pruner (to cut roots if present); shovels (small and large); rakes; and brushes (such as a duster). With these items the digger could be well prepared for any event or obstacle one can encounter in the digging process.

An important aspect of the digging process is SAFETY. One must always remember that digging has a potential of someone getting hurt or injured. For that reason, no one should ever go digging by oneself. There should always be at least one other person present in case an accident should occur and one needs help. Two others would be ideal. Having another person who can drive is essential if one is to get help. Often the sites where one digs are in remote or isolated locations. This guarantees someone can get you back in case there is a need for treatment.

If one follows these principles, one should be successful in any type of digging activity. It can be enjoyable, rewarding, and fulfilling. In my years of digging in the West, at one site I found more than 5000 artifacts over a 5-year period. Some of the many items were marbles, glass objects, milk glass jars, insulators, buttons, pearls, dishes, and pottery, just to name a few. One should take the time to do this type of activity with your children, grandchildren, friends, and others. It will enrich your life experiences and bond you with people you enjoy being around and thereby add another dimension to you life.

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.

For several weeks the blog has been discussing the importance of an artifact that has achieved a historic level. The artifact alone may have a historic value and be part of an individual’s collection. When does that artifact reach the level of historic and monetary importance as part of a collection that is located in a facility the public can see, understand, study, and appreciate? The issue is raised because does there come a time when the needs of the public to have access to artifacts outweighs the importance of an individual or company to keep the artifacts in a private collection away from the public? If the public never donated collections of artifacts to institutions or museums for study or observation there would never be museums or institutions of learning. The inspiration for new creations or collections would never come about if potential artists or collectors could not be able to view the artifacts and works of others in public settings.

The United States and numerous other countries have facilities where collections are on display for the public to view, appreciate, and study. Such museums in the United State, for example, are the Smithsonian Institution; the Bottle Museum in Saratoga NY; Corning Glass Museum in Corning, NY; the Metropolitan Museum in New York, NY to name a few. Most recently, the governor of Nevada signed into law the creation of a new museum focusing on Nevada artifacts, including glass items.

As we go briefly around the world you will see that most countries have facilities where the public can view on display the country’s historic contributions to their cultures. These displays may include art, pottery, historical documents, and various artifacts.

France, in Paris alone there are more than 10 museums including the Louvre, Centre Pompidou; Versailles, Museu d’Orsay; Invalides to name a few.

Great Britain –the British Museum; Victoria and Albert Museum; Tate Gallery; Scottish Museum to name just a few.

The Netherlands – Van Gogh Museum; Rijksmuseum; to name a few

Spain –Prado Museum; Spanish Village Museum; Museum of Santa Cruz; Pablo Picasso Museum to name a few.

Italy – The Vatican Museum in Rome; Galleria deli Uffizi in Florence; Patti Palace in Florence; Scoria Castle museum complex in Milan; Galleria Borges in Rome to name a few.

Russia – The State Russian Museum in St Petersburg; and the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

Japan – Ueno Park in Tokyo where a variety of first class museums are concentrated closely together, including the impressive Tokyo National Museum; Kyoto National Museum in Kyoto, just to name a few.

Australia –Australian Museum in Sydney; Western Australian Museum in Perth; and the National Museum of Australia in Acton to name a few.

In addition to visiting museums or facilities where artifacts are present no matter where you go, it is very important for the collector to visit sites as well of a historic or important nature. These sites will provide the collector added insights into the collecting process. As a bottle collector of Western glass, for example, a visit to old Western towns such as Virginia City, NV. Jerome AZ., Prescott, AZ., and/or Hamilton, MT. will give you a picture of what the early West was like and how the bottles from saloons could be found or other places in those cities or nearby. Knowing where people lived and worked during a historic period such as the old West helps a collector understand the time, the place, and the related and authentic artifacts that were present. For example, the collector takes pictures of artifacts in such places as a saloon in one of these cites he visits, he happens to see an artifact at an auction or bottle show of an identical nature, and he then knows that the auction item is a legitimate item.

There are many items that appear in an auction setting or bottle show or bottle setting that are fakes, or mislabeled, or misidentified. Understanding this problem, the collector is able to guard against buying something that is not legitimate. All collectors must be aware and guard against this problem all the time.

As we have spoken about collections that have been donated for public viewing, the Library of Congress has exhibited a collection of Lincoln memorabilia.   This collection of artifacts includes those items that were in President Lincoln’s possession at the time of his assassination. This is a priceless collection of artifacts open for public viewing giving the public a better understanding of the man himself and a view of the time he was president. The Ford Theater in Washington D.C. also houses those artifacts associated with President Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln as they he viewed a theatrical presentation at Ford’s theater. As a person who studies Lincoln and other persons of history, I came across this exhibit and artifacts while doing research.

Perhaps the most important lesson to the collector is that research is the tool one must use to learn about those subjects of historical interest and individuals. Not only will you be introduced to those subjects through the research method, but it can also give you new subjects and events to investigate at a later time.

While doing research in California several years ago, I ran across information on the Coca Cola Company and its early origins, as well as other items such as advertising, sports figures, etc. I mention this because it was through researching other subjects I was able to obtain this information as well.   If one was a new collector or wanted to collect Coca Cola, going to Atlanta, Ga where the company originated and is still located, along with its museum, this would be a perfect starting off point. Visiting Atlanta and the Coca Cola plant and their museum one could obtain pictures, books, and other information from the people who are knowledgeable about the company, its history, and its products. One must always remember the difference between going to the proper source versus getting information second hand or through hearsay. Too often we forget the importance of factual information and base our information on hearsay or second hand information.

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 we addressed the Owl Drug Theatrical Cold Cream that sold on EBay for $170.00 and did a thorough analysis of the item. Lo and beyond an identical Owl Drug Theatrical Cold Cream tin appears on EBay for sale this week with an opening price of $50.00 see photos to follow. The description is very scant as you can see from the following: “ Up for auction is an old Owl’s Theatrical Cold Cream Tin American Stopper Company.  MEASURES 4 1/4 INCHES WIDE BY  2 3/4 HIGH  See pictures for condition. Fresh from estate sale.“Has some dents,scratches, rust etc…. Selling as is”.



If one compares the cold cream tin that sold on EBay last week for $170.00 with the cold cream tin that is currently up for sale this week, what could one say based on the information presented? Are the characteristics of both items about the same? Yes. Are the conditions of both tins about the same? Yes. Should the price of this newest tin bring about the same price as the one last week?

The answer should be yes as well. As of this writing there are still no bids on the item with a little more than 1 day left to the auction. Does that seem strange? Wonder why there are no bids? Are potential buyers waiting to place bids as the auction nears its end, so as to get it at a price cheaper than $170.00 as the one that sold last week? The blog will let our readers know what the final results turn out to be and will do more analysis at that time.

We would like to acknowledge new readers of the blog from South Africa who have joined us this week. They join readers from other parts of world who have found the blog and the topics we present and discuss, informative, interesting, stimulating, and engaging. Your input and comments are always welcome. If there are any topics you wish to have the blog present that we have not touched on before, please do not hesitate to contact us and let us know your interests or ideas.

We encourage South African readers to share with the blog and its readership the types of bottles of South African origin and whether there are bottle clubs and bottle collecting activities. One of our major goals is to encourage participation from readers from around the world. Their input to the blog is very important. How others collect from other parts of the world helps the blog tailor our topics and information not only in the United States but around the world. We will be happy to share that information and give you a plug so that other readers can get in touch with you.   Those readers from other countries are also encouraged to share their country’s unique bottles and bottle collecting activities. Bottle collecting is a worldwide activity and we at the blog recognize it, encourage it, and promote it.

Several weeks ago the blog discussed briefly and cited an example of a historic document.  The example given announced the acquisition of the Sun Drug  C0mpany by the Owl Drug C0mpany of San Francisco, bringing the two companies together as one company under the direction of the Owl Drug Company leadership.  This document was of a historic nature, labeled as such and giving it landmark status.   Once a document has been labeled as historic, its monetary and historic value increases.  It says to the collecting world this document is important, special, and unique and as such belongs in a special place.

Should not bottles also be classified not only by category but also by their uniqueness and special qualities? Museums today have collections that have been donated so that the public can view, understand, and appreciate the collection’s  uniqueness and special qualities.  Was the  Gardner collection a mistake to have been put up for auction? If Charles Gardner were alive today would he have put his collection  up for auction or done something else?  Let us know what you feel or think.  Love to hear from you.

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 continue our discussion of fair market value this week, especially as it pertains to an item that has never been put up on the market before. How does one establish a fair market price? Using the example shown below that was recently sold on EBay.




The description of the cold cream item as presented by the seller follows: “Description: Cool, old tin of Theatrical Cold Cream from The Owl Co. out of San Francisco. Patent is 1906. Has some typical signs of use, wear, and age. Measures approx. 4 x 4 x 3. I haven’t been able to remove lid, if you can there are a few dents you could likely take out.”

Having seen the photo of the item, the following is the bid history that occurred on this item. As you can see the starting price of the item was $9.50. The final sale price was $170.50.  Item number:162172713974

Bidder Bid Amount Bid Time
Member Id: e***b( 256)    US $170.50 Aug-25-16 18:00:38 PDT
Member Id: e***b( 256)    US $170.50 Aug-25-16 18:00:01 PDT
Member Id: r***r( 1300)    US $168.00 Aug-25-16 18:00:46 PDT
Member Id: r***r( 1300)    US $160.00 Aug-25-16 18:00:42 PDT
Member Id: r***r( 1300)    US $155.00 Aug-25-16 18:00:28 PDT
Member Id: r***r( 1300)    US $140.00 Aug-25-16 18:00:24 PDT
Member Id: r***r( 1300)    US $125.00 Aug-25-16 18:00:21 PDT
Member Id: r***r( 1300)    US $110.00 Aug-25-16 18:00:16 PDT
Member Id: r***r( 1300)    US $100.00 Aug-25-16 00:39:41 PDT
Member Id: r***r( 1300)    US $25.00 Aug-19-16 02:56:00 PDT
Member Id: e***b( 256)    US $20.00 Aug-25-16 17:03:53 PDT
Member Id: e***b( 256)    US $18.00 Aug-25-16 06:28:17 PDT
Member Id: h***h( 3271)    US $17.00 Aug-23-16 14:44:45 PDT
Starting Price    US $9.50 Aug-18-16 18:00:58 PDT


As we analyze the description to the final price, several things stand out. The description gives you some indication of the condition of the item. He states ” Has some typical signs of use, wear, and age. Measures approx. 4 x 4 x 3. I haven’t been able to remove lid, if you can there are a few dents you could likely take out”. This description therefore, indicates the tin is not in mint or near mint condition. A potential buyer should take into consideration the condition of an item when bidding and how much one is willing to pay for this item presented.

Another important fact that the seller failed to provide in his description was where this item fits into the company’s history. Was it produced in the early, the middle, or at the end of the company’s history? That information adds to the rarity, the importance, and the ultimate value of the item. The final winner of the item who paid $170.50 apparently is relatively new to EBay due to the number of hits his profile reflects at 256. Why did he buy this item? Perhaps he is a tin collector, owl drug collector or something else, but we don’t know really why.

The seller of this item whose profile shows only 40 hits on EBay is also relatively new to EBay. A view of his selling history indicates he primarily sells automobile metal emblems. Where he picked up this Owl Drug tin we could only speculate. He probably had not idea of what the item was, its rarity, its historic value or any other elements that would make this item valuable. The final price probably surprised and pleased the seller especially since it sold for so much.

The following is an example of 2 Owl Drug Theatrical Cold Creams tins as seen in Volume I of The Owl Drug Handbook, page 153.  If you look at these two tins and compare it to the one shown above, any reader can begin see the vast difference and what we are talking about.


Given the facts presented about the seller and the buyer of this item, can a true fair market value be established on this item? No it cannot. Today too many items with similar characteristics are sold daily, thereby distorting the fair market value and what an item is truly worth. Unfortunately, others will use this sale as the standard to set so-called fair market value prices of similar items. This is exactly how the black Hostetter Bitters bottle that originally had a price of $100 several years ago, now has prices ranging from $400 – $500, and now one is priced for sale at $750. The lime green Hostetter that we highlighted last week is up for sale for $1795. Who would believe that such a price would be asked given its description presented on EBay?

If we extrapolate from the information presented about so-called fair market value and what people are attempting to sell their bottles for through different venues, we can expect that certain categories of bottles will no longer be available for the average collector to purchase. Who would have ever thought that the Hostetter Bitters category would take a turn like this?

There are those in the Owl Drug category who sell on Ebay on a regular basis who have attempted to capture that category as well. Listing items with incorrect and misleading descriptions, altering the authenticity of the bottles, and overpricing the bottles at values unrealistic to the real value of what the item truly is. Numerous examples have been shared with this audience this year and in past years, showing and explaining the attempt to capture or manipulate the market. If the item is presented properly and accurately, the price will follow and be true to the actual value of the item and not be manipulated or captured to exorbitant and realistic levels that we see too often today.

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.

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.