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.

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.