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.


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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


June 16, 2016

This week the blog continues 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. Last week the blog highlighted 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.

Most recently the following bottle was sold on EBay for $610.00. The seller claimed it was an “attic” bottle. Where is the proof of such a claim? There is no paperwork or documentation provided to verify this claim, as you find on a car purchased from CarMax where a history of the car is provided to a potential buyer or buyer. The same history background should be available on bottles over a certain dollar value.   Where is the test and verification?


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.


June 9, 2016

The bottle world uses a variety of methods by which one can find bottles, buy bottles, and sell bottles. The avenues that are most commonly used today are bottle/collectibles shows, auctions, flea markets, and the Internet including Ebay and others. Despite the fact that there are many avenues to obtain bottles, one of the major problems is that there is no standardization of this process throughout the bottle world. The Unites States has used a standard method of pricing and description on items sold in stores and restaurants and in other areas no matter where in the US one go, whether it is on the East Coast, the Midwest, or the West Coast. MacDonald’s is a perfect example of standardization, both for price and product. If you are looking for a Big Mac you can find it made the same and at the same price no matter where in the US you go. You find the same process in many department stores or chains no matter what store you go to in the US. We pride ourselves for having established and maintaining this standardization process for many areas in our lives. In various parts of the world, there is no standardization. They use a bartering system. As a customer you would haggle back and forth with the seller to come to an agreement about the price you will have to pay. It often leads to anger, frustration, and even distrust over the product and the price as well as the people selling it.

Unfortunately this same anger, frustration, and even distrust can and often occurs over bottles. The blog has been contacted numerous times about this issue and have been asked what can we do and where can we go to help resolve the problem. Obviously they see this blog as the source to identify problems, look into the problems and help solve these problems. In most cases, people have avenues to return purchased items and get a refund or exchange. When a person buys bottles at a bottle show, bottle auction, or any other venue where bottles are sold, there is no place or avenue to return such purchases. The seller often times has no permanent location since he only sets up at a bottle show and therefore no way to contact him. In many cases no sales receipt is written and no contact information is available. If you get in touch with the sponsor of the bottle show, they may or may not have contact information of the vendor or it may not be accurate.   So the buyer is once again frustrated and has nowhere to go for recourse or satisfaction. The door is slammed in his face once again.

The biggest example, still remaining, of buyer frustration in the United States involves the buying of new cars. You can go to three different car dealerships selling the same make and models of cars with three different prices, the same as you find in the bottle world. Why is the same car found in three different car dealerships charging three different prices?



Why do same blue cobalt bottles have two different labels and two different prices? Which label is correct and which one is incorrect? There is no place for someone to go to check the validity and reliability of a bottle whether it is this blue poison or a bitters bottle, or a soda bottle, or other categories of bottles.


Owl Drug Company Forest Green Citrate Bottle Western San Francisco California
Nice THE OWL DRUG CO drug bottle poison or cure.  Deep dark forest green color. No chips, cracks or damage This is an applied top early bottle. 1880s-90s
I did try to clean with mild “internet suggestions” with no luck, I am going to leave any restoration to the new owner.

Condition not properly identified (dug bottle heavily stained); misidentified (not a poison or cure bottle); pricing is not consistent with current market value or condition.


Hostetter bottle

According to the owner condition of the bottle is mint and never cleaned. When questioned: “has this bottle been put in a bottle machine during your ownership?” The owner replied: “Never in any type of machine. I believe my listing indicated it was never cleaned and it has not. The only machine it has been in has been my vehicle when I brought it home. Thanks for the question. It is an attic bottle.

Is there any documentation to verify the item has never been altered? When reviewing the bidding on this bottle, one must question whether bidding manipulation is present. Current market value is not consistent with the price the item is currently at or will sell for.

Is there any standard between these two bottles and any similarities between their descriptions, their conditions, and their pricing? Should there be?

As the blog has shown in this blog posting and the examples that we have discussed, there is no standard or uniform policy for descriptions, conditions, returns, and pricing for bottles. As a result descriptions are often inaccurate, incomplete, misleading, or non-existent. Conditions are often inaccurate, exaggerated, or missing. Return policies often don’t exist, are unaccepted, or no central location for the buyer to communicate with. And as for pricing, it is inconsistent, often overpriced, and not consistent with current market values.

The failure to establish and maintain standard and uniform policies with regard to bottles often leaves the buyer frustrated, angry, tense, and many times unhappy. He tends to question why be a part of a situation that often times is unsatisfactory, disheartening and leaves the buyer on the defensive. It is no wonder why so many potential bottle collectors do not want to engage in this process and so many bottle collectors are getting out.

The blog wishes to extend our sincere thanks to our many readers outside the US.  This week we particularly want to recognize our participants from Brazil.  Keep reading and sharing your insights and comments with the blog.

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


As I perused the Owl Drug category on EBay this week, I came across the following statement by the Clancy Kid … “We always offer a nice variety of OWL DRUG CO. bottle for sale.  Collecting them has been a passion of ours, for over 40 years now!    PLEASE note that we have MANY Owl Drug Co. bottles for sale, on-line and otherwise, as we are continually buying new stock, selling and trading old stock, and have them constantly coming and going.  Not only do we purchase them (one (1) at a time to one thousand (1,000) at a time) but we also offer a free Owl Drug bottle appraisal service.  If you have one and are wondering about it, feel free to ask, we have been appraising OWL DRUG bottles for decades…”

Having read this statement that follows one of his items for sale in the Owl Drug category, one must ask on what basis and with what credentials can this person make the claim to be able to appraise Owl Drug or any other product in the Owl Drug category. Has he written any books on the subject, lectured at schools or institutions of higher learning, given seminars, or produced documents from research he has conducted on Owl Drug? Why does the Clancy Kid never provide the sources of his information? Is his information simply based on hearsay or rumor? How can an individual paste a label he has obtained on a bottle and call the bottle authentic. Obviously he has no concept of research or how or why it is done and what ends it provides to the bottle community.

In a previous blog posting, we discussed the term credibility In order to upgrade the hobby and bring new people into the hobby, bottle hobbyists must be seen as being credible. As of late, the hobby seems to be moving in the opposite direction. One of the hallmarks of the bottle hobby is to develop more individuals, groups, or organizations that include RESEARCH. RESEARCH provides clear, accurate and truthful information and removes hearsay, rumor, falsehoods, and misleading information that so permeates the bottle hobby today. The failure to include research as part of bottle collecting ranks second after the perpetuation of altering and altered bottles.

Collecting years ago was a very time consuming and arduous process. Gaining information was difficult and at times impossible. Today, with the advent of the Internet, computerization, and global communications, that information can be at ones fingertips for any individual, group or organization.

For too many years HEARSAY has been the mainstay of bottle collecting. Very few individuals have challenged the notion of “HEARSAY” for accuracy. It seems that sellers have only one concern, to sell their items at the highest prices possible and never think about any truths about the items they are selling. There has been a huge cry of late from both buyers and sellers to the blog as to whether the information provided is accurate, is the item what it is supposed to be, and is the price what it is supposed to be. They are asking for accuracy, not falsehoods or HEARSAY.

Apparently many in the bottle community have not comprehended and still do not comprehend the relationship between bottle collecting and research and why there is an important connection. This connection should be made and followed because without that connection there is no validity to any bottle collection or the buying and selling of bottles.

The Handbooks on the Owl Drug Company of San Francisco came about because there was little or no accurate information about the company, its leadership, it business practices, its policies, and yes its products. The handbooks have provided the linkage between the bottles, the history, the company, and its leadership to those who are Owl Drug collectors or potential collectors. They have eliminated much of the hearsay and falsehoods that have been spread for many years by individuals and others. No longer can one say the information is not available and cannot be found. These books can be obtained in many libraries or purchased from the Owl Drug Collectors blog.

For those of you who have attended a college or university or who have relatives who attend or attended a college and university, one of the main focuses of the college years is research. Research papers are a major part of any college education. You spend hours and hours finding information to substantiate you comments about a subject and defend your position. Once done, you present your findings in a research paper and/or orally defend your position to your classmates and professor. Generally speaking a research paper would vary from 5 to 20 pages containing 2 to 3 sources that would verify the authenticity and truthfulness of what you are presenting. The professor requires multiple sources to ensure the student’s paper is not base on hearsay, myth, or personal opinion. A source could be a company, a reliable individual, a manufacturer, a government agency, a government representative, or a library, etc.

Here at the blog we have put together an excellent research team that helps on our blog and with our client base. We recognized several years ago to put together a research team that would put out accurate information not hearsay so as not to mislead individuals or put out falsehoods. Apparently it is working because our ranks continue to grow and our client base continues to expand. So therefore doing research and having a good research team is important in 2016 and beyond. We will continue to build on it and make it stronger.

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.

As we returned to the office this week we found ourselves with the usual emails, phone calls, and requests that we receive on a regular basis. Several weeks ago in our blog posting we stated that we would introduce discussions about bottles and pottery from other countries around the world.   Like the United States, other countries and manufacturers produced bottles and pottery for use in their home county and elsewhere around the globe. This week we will begin this journey of foreign bottles and pottery with our neighbors to the north, Canada.

My interest in bottles from other countries started from my readings of the Antique Bottle and Glass Collector Magazine written and published by Jim Hagenbuch. Jim would periodically take groups on trips to the UK to participate in bottle shows that highlighted primarily European bottles and pottery. Once having returned from his trips, he would write articles about the bottles, the people he met, details about the trips themselves and the shows he attended. Jim should be credited with introducing foreign bottles to the American collector through his magazine and other activities.

Canada has a long history of bottles and pottery. As a commonwealth nation of Great Britain and a trading partner with Great Britain, Canada got its bottles and pottery primarily in the beginning through this trading process. This partnership began with the settlement of Canada as a colony first by the French and then by the British. Bottles for this trading market were manufactured in Great Britain, while pottery was made in Scotland and Ireland. The contents of the bottles and pottery were filled in the UK and then shipped to Canada as part of their trading agreements. The Canadians in turn shipped furs, maple syrup, raw materials for textiles, etc. to Great Britain. In the evolution of trade and business, Canadian companies or communities commissioned UK manufacturers to produce bottles and pottery with Canadian labels, and etched wordings and drawings, such the example shown from Halifax, NS.

The three most prominent categories of Canadian bottles are beer bottle/pottery, medicines, and poisons. In the category of beers the following photos are some examples both in glass and in pottery.s-l1600-3

The pottery is manufactured in Great Britain.


This beer pottery was manufactured in the UK specifically for the Halifax, NS community





These beer bottles were also manufactured in the UK for Victoria and Vancouver, BC Canada

The second category is Medicines. Several years ago there was a misconception by many that the Owl Drug Ltd located in British Columbia was associated and affiliated with the Owl Drug Company of San Francisco. As a result of research and documentation presented by the Owl Drug Collectors Blog through several blog postings it was concluded that there was and is no association or affiliation between the Canadian Owl Drug Ltd. and the Owl Drug Company of San Francisco.   Since this information was presented, the Owl Drug Collectors Blog has learned that other American drug companies did business in Canada for a period of time.



This example is of a Canadian medicine bottle.  Note the Ltd on this particular bottle.  Canadian bottles have either Ltd or Lcc that distinguishes them from American bottles.


This example is of an American company doing business in Canada as indicated on the label.

The third Canadian category is Poisons The shape and color of the poison bottles were designed to prevent people from taking poisons by mistake. The bottles were first cobalt blue in color and triangular in shape. Later the skull and cross-bones were added to the bottles along with ripples, and the words (not to be taken). All these safeguards failed to prevent adults and children from accidentally taking the poisons. Other companies and countries produced their own poison type bottles, following a similar theme as Owl Drug. They too used other safeguards on the bottles such as “not to be taken”, skull and cross bones, and ripples. These too were not successful. Finally governments intervened and banned poisons to be sold in bottles for the public market. RIGO (the Richards Glass Company) manufactured glass bottles for the Canadian market, including poison bottles. The Rigo bottles can be found in cobalt blue, green, and amber are highly sought after by bottle collectors. Of the three colors of Rigo bottles, the more common is the cobalt blue bottle. However, none of these bottles is easily found. Today the Richards Glass Company is known as the Richards Packaging Company and still manufactures glass items. Many of their glass products are imported from China.


s-l1600-10 s-l1600-11


These are photos of the RIGO poison bottle.


This is an example of an amber-colored poison bottle with skull and cross-bones.



This is an example of a green poison with the words “not to be taken”.

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.