For the past few weeks, the blog has been discussing the Chattanooga bottle show and have asked numerous participants in the show to share their thoughts about the show. We also asked Rick DeMarsh, the FOHBC public relations officer to share information about the show as well. The blog has learned that the show itself did not live up to the hype given to it in some of FOHBC literature prior to the show as well as the information provided after the show by the FOHBC president in his latest presidential message. Most of the figures given in that report cannot be verified, since there is no mechanism to do so.   As of this date Rick DeMarsh has never provided any information or even replied. In all probability, he never will.   One of the individuals with whom we spoke this week was the owner of the Daniels auction house that conducted the Chattanooga bottle show auction. His comments were very candid and he stated that the show chairmen misled him. He found the experience very “distasteful”.

Despite Ferdinand Meyer’s agreement to be open and honest with the blog regarding FOHBC activities and assigning Rick DeMarsh his point of contact, there has been a failure on Rick’s part to be forthcoming and forthright. To this date he has refused to respond to any of our requests, in particular on the Chattanooga show. This show like other past shows fails to provide information that is clear, open and verifiable. Instead we are told to believe whatever Ferdinand Meyer or the show reporter chooses to report. When this information is checked, it cannot be verified. The Baltimore show was a perfect example of “distorted reporting”. When presented by the FOHBC and when checked out, it was found to be incomplete, inaccurate and unverifiable as well.

An important difference between the FOHBC and the blog centers on information and people’s behavior. The blog is open and honest in its communications and the information it presents can be checked and verified. Credibility is essential when you work with people and you do business with them. The blog strives to be accurate, provide factual information and cite examples that are credible and useful. When the blog delves into subjects or issues it uses the practice of research, historical evidence and cites examples of what it has learned and shares it with others. When the blog does not have an answer to an issue it is because all the information may not be available, but when that information becomes available it is shared. There are subject matters that are exclusive to the customer who has purchased our services and wishes their information to be kept private and confidential. That is part of doing business and the blog honors that request by its customers or potential customers to keep it private and confidential

Several weeks ago the blog shared a comment that was submitted by Rand Selenak regarding his wife Pam and her association with the FOHBC. The blog in response to Randy’s comments requested that Randy clarify and elaborate on those comments.   He never followed up on his comments. Therefore it must be concluded that what he shared with the blog was hearsay including the comments he made about Ferdinand Meyer. His comments about Ferdinand can only be described as “character assassination” and unverifiable. It is not worth the paper it was put on. This type of activity is typical of many in their bottle world today. It is not our world; we do not operate in this manner and never will.

Last week the blog shared two bottles with the audience that was described by the sellers incorrectly. One was the Clancy Kid who has a long history of misidentification, mislabeling, and over pricing items. The other seller has followed the same pattern as the Clancy Kid over pricing, improperly identifying the bottle, or failing to provide its true condition. As part of his description he stated that the bottle was rare without knowing a true definition of the condition rare as it pertains to bottles. Both individuals fail to tell prospective buyers whether these bottles have been altered from their original state and if so to what degree and how much. It is quite obvious if you look at them, they have been altered, and are not the way they would be found in their natural state or in a state for sale.

The term RARE is overused, misused, poorly used, and not used in its proper context when people describe bottles. People think by using the term RARE, they will get a higher price on the item or they can inflate the price since they don’t know what the item truly is, where it fits in, or its true market value. Many people do not want to make the connection or know how to make the connection between rarity with true market value and documentation. Believing if you just state it is RARE, then obviously it must be rare even if fails to correlate with its true market value or have documentation to prove its rarity.   The example of the green bottle that the seller claims is rare is untrue. These green bottles are more common and come up for sale often. Now if you are talking about the set of 5 bottles in that category then that is rare, but having just one and one of the more common type is not rare.

IMG_1880This is a picture of the set of 5 bottles as depicted in the Owl Drug Handbook Volume I, page 58 as written by D&G Levine, a part of the Owl Drug Collectors Blog.  Having one in the set has an individual value, while having the entire set has a totally different and higher value.


DSCN2169The bottle the Clancy Kid has up for sale is one the 5 bottles in this set of Clear Owl drugs bottles.  This photo comes from the Owl Drug Handbook Volume I page 78 written by D&G Levine. a part of the Owl Drug Collectors Blog.

The blog was informed by several sources that Ferdinand Meyer had a bottle for sale on his vendor’s table at the Chattanooga show that was priced at $20,000.00. If that is the case then did he have the documentation to prove the asking price? Was the bottle cleaned, tumbled, and/or polished and if so, was it identified as such? How was that price justified? Was it independently evaluated and certified and if so, by whom? All that information should accompany a bottle especially if it is priced at that level. Would like to hear from you, Ferdinand! Let us know the background on the bottle and how that price came about.

The following item was recently acquired by the blog. This item is unique in the history of the Owl Drug Company of San Francisco. It became a highlight event for the company at which the company won a medal at the Pan-American Exposition of 1901 held in Buffalo, New York. This exposition was a worldwide event, hosting people and companies from all over the world. Buffalo won the privilege of hosting the exposition because of two reasons: Buffalo was the eighth largest city in the United States with a large population and because it had better railroad connections. The city was within a day’s travel for approximately 40 million people. Congress pledged $500,000.00 for the exposition to be held in Buffalo. The following pictures are part of the brochure that was the Owl Drug Company’s exposition pamphlet. The brochure was published by the Owl Drug Company to highlight the many diversities of the Owl Drug Company exclusively for the Pan-American Exposition.




The additional information provided to discuss the exampled brochure was obtained because of the research performed by the Owl Drug Collectors blog. This is but an example of the type of research that the blog performs for our readers, supporters, and others. This link to the brochure connects the item with an historical event, the participation of the Owl Drug Company in Buffalo, and confirms why the Owl Drug Collectors blog continues to be on the cutting edge of the bottle world 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.

Last week the blog wrote about volunteerism and how individuals participate in and belong to organizations. The blog was deluged by emails and comments from bottle hobbyists, blog readers and supporters along with many members of the FOHBC leadership, both past and present.

The blog also received a comment from Randy Selenak that was posted in last week’s blog. Randy is the husband of Pam Selenak who was the past public relations director of the FOHBC and the past president of the Los Angeles bottle club. Randy is also the father of Scott Selenak who was assigned the position of official photographer of the FOHBC by Ferdinand Meyer . The blog responded to Randy’s comments with a request that he clarify and elaborate on the information he shared in his email. At this writing there has been no further communications from Randy Selenak regarding his comments. Apparently the only reason Randy Selenak sent his comments into the blog was “to cover his wife’s reputation”. We at the bog do not print hearsay.. Because these comments have not been substantiated or supported with any documentation, we must conclude those comments are hearsay.

The two paragraphs that are part of the FOHBC president’s message discusses so-called statistics about the Chattanooga bottle show. Where is the substantiation of these “statistics”. Where is the proof of the attendance numbers, be it early admission or general admission? Ferdinand also discusses the free breakfast meeting attended by 110 people, of which a third of that number are members of the FOHBC leadership, a session where the vote for the increase in membership dues took place. If the FOHBC has a number of approximately 1000 members then how can 110 people speak for the entire membership and why did not the FOHBC send out a special bulletin to request feedback on the request for the membership dues increase prior to the vote? A claim is also made that 44 new members joined the FOHBC. Despite the blog’s numerous attempts to contact Linda Shepard and her failure to respond at all, the blog is left with the option of declaring that increase in membership numbers to be hearsay or fabrication. Where is the official documentation of this membership increase?

Ferdinand also discusses how $3000.00 was raised for the virtual museum. Why should that amount of money be allocated to the virtual museum when the FOHBC requires its members to pay more money because they claim it costs more to run the organization. Isn’t there a better need than to put it toward to the virtual museum? Does it not seem out of place considering they just raised the cost of membership? Aren’t these priorities somewhat skewed whose special interests are taken care of and being directed by?

Following the show the blog tried to contact those in the FOHBC leadership who were responsible for and involved in the Chattanooga show on numerous occasions including Linda Shepard, Rick DeMarsh, Sheldon Baugh, and Jack Hewitt. Despite these numerous to contact people no one had the courtesy to respond to any of the blog’s phone calls or emails. One must question what is the responsibility of those who hold an office in the FOHBC? Is it solely a label, or is it solely to satisfy one’s ego and self-interests? Is there another agenda going on? Yes, we realize that it is volunteerism, but if you hold an office or position aren’t you required to fulfill the requirements and duties of that position? And who is responsible to make sure those requirements and duties are performed? Considering the FOHBC, one must question the validity and reliability of those holding offices. They seem to be just place-holders or does it look good on a resume? Several of the FOHBC members have held many of the offices in the FOHBC organization structure, for example, Gene Bradberry is currently the longest running member on the FOHbC board, having been around the board since 1984. The same can be said of John Pastor, Sheldon Baugh, and Bob Ferraro, These men can be called the senior members of the FOHBC leadership team.

Last week the blog discussed the two poison bottle and box discovery that we obtained. The blog is in the process of building a new collection in 2015 around this discovery. Similar collections can be acquired of natural bottles in the same manner as in the blog’s discovery. Despite the attempt by the FOHBC and others to dismiss the existence and availability of natural bottles as opposed to altered bottles, the collector can discover and obtain natural items if he or she tries. Collections of any type must include the documentation to authenticate the items in the collections. The failure of any collector to validate his or her collections without documentation means that the collection itself is relatively useless and has little or no monetary value. The FOHBC and others have for many years sold bottles and items without the proper documentation necessary to validate their true condition, rarity and value. How are bottles validated and who is the independent body that validates them? Are the sellers the source of the validation? Obviously too often they are source of the validation. That is the fox guarding the henhouse. How can they be trusted? You mean to tell a buyer that your $20,000. 00 bottles is valid? Where is your source for the value and authentication? Do you call up a buddy and say “validate for me”? In today’s world, people buying cars require not only titles but also a fax documenting previous ownerships, accidents, mechanical issues, etc. These faxes are now required not only from places like CARMAX, and CARFAX, but also care dealerships.   The same hold true for restoration, construction, maid and other services. People desiring these services should demand sources to ensure reliability and credibility. How can the FOHBC claim that a bottle is valid without the proper validation sources?

There are 2 EBay items the blog would like to share and discuss.

Clancy kid’s Three Rum Owl Drug Bottles



A lot of three (3) 7″ tall cylinder-shaped clear-glass antique OWL DRUG Co. BAY RUM BARBER bottles.  These are the first three styles of Bay Rum bottles used by the Owl Drug Co.   The first two with the slightly turned birds showing mainly one (1) wing are early hand Blown Into Mold bottles (BIM) with tooled tops, dating back to the 1895 – 1910 era, over 100 years old.   The third bottle which is evenly centered and showing both (2) wings is an ABM cork top bottle, ca. 1920 era, or about 100 years old.   All three bottles have an embossed picture of an owl perched on a druggists’ mortar, stirring a pestle.

The light amethyst bottle with the almost-animated looking owl and just the cork stopper is the oldest one, and was in use during the 1890’s.  The clear bottle with the glass stopper is the post-1900 bottle, the next oldest.  The newest is the bottle with the brass shaker top, two wing bird, and was in use possibly even into the 1920’s.  Comparatively speaking, it is not common to find these old Owl Drug Co. bay rum or barber bottles.   It seems you see about 100 of the rectangular Owl Drug prescription bottles to every one of these old Owl Drug Barber bottles.  These come in the traditional ‘BARBER’ bottle shape and according to a labeled one, contained BAY RUM, which according to the label, was “a refreshing and invigorating lotion … an ideal preparation to use after shaving”.   Bay Rum was commonly used as an after shave and cologne back in the day, the olden days.  The oldest bottle is a hard bottle to find and rarely comes up for sale, but they all together make quite the set, LQQK at ’em, I mean … check ’em out!

Once again the Clancy Kid leaves out pertinent information about the bottles such as condition and whether they have been altered and to what degree. In fact the bottles have been altered. If one looks at the tops of these 3 bottles one can see they have been professionally changed. These bottles were originally dug as determined by the condition and look of the tops. Bottles that are dug are not as clean as those depicted here. In fact they have been altered in some fashion. The price requested is not consistent with the market value and what they are really worth, obviously $399.00 is way too high for these 3 A5 bottles.

The 2nd EBay Owl Drug item:

Owl Drug Citrate of Magnesia






Where is the documentation that authenticates this bottle? The description is inaccurate. This bottle is not rare and the seller has not provided any documentation indicating or showing that the bottle is rare. There is no independent source that supports his claim as well. Judging from the pictures presented this bottle has been altered in some type of way. This bottle follows in the same pattern as the Clancy Kid as it relates to presentation, description, altered condition, and pricing.



To potential buyers: suggest you ask sellers to what altering conditions their bottles have been subjected to. Hopefully they will answer you. In the past the sellers of altered bottles refuse to answer buyers or potential buyer questions. If you ask them in person they turn away from you or walk away from you. If you email them, they simply ignore your emails, and if you call them, they generally hang up on 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


September 17, 2015

Last week’s blog posting concentrated on the discussion of volunteerism and how it affects the bottle world and bottle collecting. Organizations such as the FOHBC and bottle clubs depend on volunteers and not salaried employees. At the direction of Ferdinand Meyer, current president of the FOHBC, Rick DeMarsh, the Public Relations officer of the FOHBC was to be the point of contact for the blog when questions, concerns, or issues were directed to and related to the FOHBC and its activities. One particular activity was the Chattanooga Bottle show that occurred in July/August 2015. It was stated several weeks ago and up to a month ago that a request was presented to Rick DeMarsh and had not been answered. As of this writing on 17 September 2015, Mr. DeMarsh has failed to respond at all.

If an individual is a salaried employee of an organization and is assigned a task, he or she is required to respond. Failure to do so would usually affect a reprimand, a salary reduction, or possibility removal from that position. Organizations that depend on volunteerism depend solely on the good will of the individual holding that position. Failure to complete a task holds little or no consequences from the organization. Those volunteers function when and how they wish to. They volunteer because they have an agenda or develop an agenda that may or may not fit the agenda and goals of the organization they belong to. In the bottle world to often the agenda of the organization may not be the priority of its leadership or its members.

People set up at shows to further their own agenda no matter what that means to the organization’s agenda or goals. The organization, on the other hand, has no mechanism to correct or control individuals and their agendas especially when they conflict with the agenda of the organization. Often leaders use different mechanisms to buy them off in some form or another. This is how the individual is rewarded and kept in line. It becomes the concept of “you owe me” spoken directly or implied indirectly. Volunteers in a volunteer program tend to be recycled. Pam Selenak and Richard Siri who were in part responsible for the Tragedy in Reno several years ago will be co-chairing the Sacramento show in 2016. Why should they be recycled and rewarded after their tragic performance in Reno? Is it not the fox guarding the henhouse again? What can be expected? As we remember, it was Pam Selenak who said, “we will not rest until we find those responsible for the theft and they are punished,” As of this date nothing has been uncovered about the theft and no one punished! Just a bunch of hollow words and no substance!

Volunteerism works sometimes. Most organizations do not know how to use them, maintain them, control them, or reprimand them. In the bottle world, the agenda of the individual apparently takes precedence over any bottle club or organization’s goals as it has appeared in the past, continues in the present, and will probably continue to do so in the future.

Last week the blog presented an example of two natural bottles with their original labels and the original box for one of the bottles.

The mail that was received was quite interesting. Let me share some of the thoughts from the mail. The most prominent thought expressed was that natural bottles are non-existent anymore and cannot be found at bottle shows or elsewhere. Most people are told that the only bottles available are those that are primarily altered bottles, in other words those bottles that have been cleaned, tumbled and/or polished or have had some other altering process done to them. The second most thought expressed was how much are these bottles and box worth? The answer to this question has not been totally determined yet.

One of the blog’s staff members asked about the feasibility of doing seminars in different parts of the United States to provide information, techniques, and guidelines to collect bottles for the present and beyond. Such topics might include tips on how to develop, build, and maintain a collection; how to and where to research an item or company; how to distinguish between a natural bottle and one that has been altered in some form or another; and where are the best places to locate bottles for ones collections. Is there an interest in such seminars? Please let the blog know.

This week the blog was in contact with Joan Cabaniss who is president of the American Poison Bottle Collectors Association (APBCA) of the United States. According to Joan, some poison collectors use a code on poison bottles that was developed by Rudy Kuhn. Mr. Kuhn was a professor at a small college in Pennsylvania. He developed this code to be able to classify poison bottles into various categories just as Darwin did in his Origin of The Species. Owl Drug poison bottles are classified as KT-1 by this methodology. Deciphering this Owl Drug bottle code means K-KUHN; T-triangular; and 1 – Owl Drug Company. This code does not assess current market value, condition, rarity, or history of the bottle itself. Unfortunately Rudy Kuhn is no longer alive. The code is therefore limited in value or use by any poison collector. This code is now the property of the American Poison Bottle Collectors Association and the workbooks associated with this code is sold through the APBCA for $50.00 plus shipping.

And finally, the Clancy Kid has a new example on the Ebay Owl Drug site. They are 3 bay rum bottles. As he has in the past, he misrepresents the bottles and fails to identify their true condition. The prices he is asking for these bottles are outrageous especially given their true condition. A discussion about pricing and true condition of bottles will be a part of next week’s blog posting.

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

Last week the blog posted an Owl Drug bottle with a label that appeared for sale on Ebay. The bottle had 39 bidders and sold for $169.50.   Unfortunately the blog was unable to complete the discussion and explanation about this bottle but will do so in this week’s posting.




As was stated last week the seller had no source for this bottle and had no documentation to verify its legitimacy or not. None of the 39 bidders asked the Ebay seller any questions. We were the only one to ask questions to get clarity on the description of his bottle. The question that is most striking is “Do you have any documentation or source(s) to support the information presented about the bottle?”   The seller responded: “No backup other than my word. Bottle found at an estate sale many years ago. Neither this question nor the seller’s answer ever appeared on the Ebay site.   Obviously it never appeared for fear the bottle would not sell if the question and answer were printed.

Too many bottles are presented this way. They are misidentified, falsified, and cannot be sourced as to their legitimacy. This bottle is a perfect example of the failure to authenticate and document its legitimacy. The new owner is now left with a bottle that is undocumented and not sourced thus leaving it as what is called an “altered bottle”.   As characterized as an A-5 bottle (“altered bottle” with no source), this bottle has no historic or monetary value. It has been added to our files as a fake until someone or organization/institution can verify the authenticity and legitimacy of the bottle. The person who paid $169.50 for this item wasted his/her money.

Earlier this week the NFL commissioner upheld Tom Brady’s suspension and fines. He was accused of knowing about the use of deflated footballs and operating with them during the AFC championship game and then lying to the investigators and the public when interviewed. Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots, is to be suspended for 4 games this season and forced to pay fines.

A similar story can be told comparing the Tom Brady deflated football scandal and the apparent misuse of power by the FOHBC leadership and some of its members for activities prior to and during the Baltimore bottle show. These actions were followed by a misleading and inaccurate report by one of the members of the FOHBC leadership and board that appeared in the FOHBC communications. In addition to this report, there were first hand accounts provided by individuals who were present, pictures, the YOU Tube video, and other sources. They pointed out that the report provided by the FOHBC was done inaccurately, poorly written, and misleading.   All these actions were described in detail in the blog posting of February 13, 2015, along with the Baltimore bottle club president’s NO COMMENT statement reflected the views of his club, the FOHBC, and all bottle clubs, in general. The failure of the FOHBC president, his board, and other clubs to denounce this behavior indicated complete support. for what occurred in Baltimore in March 2015.

In addition to supporting inappropriate behavior, comments and reporting, the president and board are asking for an increase of $10.00 per year of membership dues without justification for its need and use. This increase amounts to a 1/3 increase over the current rate. Instead of communications to the entire membership as other organizations do, the FOHBC leadership failed to justify the need for its increase and use two weeks prior to the vote. By doing so, this prevents the entire membership from expressing their wishes and concerns and leaves the decision to the select few who will attend the show. This process is a travesty to the FOHBC membership. It is in fact an exclusionary process. Last week it was suggested that the vote on this increase be postponed until a justification for such an increase be forthcoming and communicated to the total membership for their input.

What can w expect from Chattanooga this weekend?  Without making any predictions, we will wait and see what happens, what is reported by the FOHBC and what is reported by independent sources. We will keep you informed in future blog postings. We are on the cutting edge of the bottle world 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


This week let us begin by comparing two examples of bottles, one that you are familiar with that we have discussed, analyzed, documented and presented in previous blog postings. Canadian experts and Canadian collectors have verified this example “as being a fake”.

The second example is one that was just recently sold on Ebay, Item #161763989271 for $169.50 with 39 bids.



Condition: NEW: A brand new, unused, unopened, undamaged item (including handmade items) See the seller’s listing. Color: Blue

Description: Old vintage Owl Drug Company tincture of iodine cobalt blue poison bottle with stopper and label in perfect condition including rubber stopper and glass applicator. The bottle is triangular and only 2 1/8” tall. Photos tell it all. Please ask questions prior to bidding.

Returns: None accepted

None of the 39 bidders asked the Ebay seller any questions. We were the only one to ask questions to get clarity on the description of his bottle. The question that is most striking is “Do you have any documentation or source(s) to support the information presented about the bottle?”   The seller responded: “No backup other than my word. Bottle found at an estate sale many years ago. Neither this question nor the seller’s answer ever appeared on the Ebay site.   Obviously it never appeared for fear the bottle would not sell if the question and answer were printed. Would this be the same as the first example that has not been sold in over a year appearing on Ebay, once people became aware of the item’s true identity? Knowing the truth about a bottle and its condition will affect the outcome of a sale. The blog has proven several times now that true information presented on items for sale will affect the sale’s outcome. Many in the bottle world have told the blog that knowing the true condition of a bottle does not affect the sale, but in fact once the truth is determined, the sale is affected. If a buyer is duped, he cannot blame the seller, he must blame himself for not doing the research or asking the seller proper questions. The bottle world will use this excuse to cover up their unwillingness to be honest and truthful. In that they can continue to deceive, manipulate, or mislead.

There is a direct correlation between the failure of these two Ebay sellers to be forthright about the descriptions of their items and the failure of the FOHBC to be forthright and up front with this announcement of the request to increase membership dues by $10.00. According to the FOHBC president, in his July/August message the decision to ask the membership to vote on an increase in dues was passed at the March board meeting held in Baltimore. Why has it taken 5 months for the FOHBC president and board to announce this decision instead of when it actually was decided in March? Obviously the board and the president wanted to hide this decision, until this time. They apparently  have no respect for their membership; they are just a means to an end.

In announcing this decision in the way they have, they have also failed  by some formal communications to disclose and justify to the membership why this increase is necessary and what it is to be used for . Perhaps the membership should tell the FOHBC president and the board to table this vote on the dues increase at Chattanooga to allow ALL members the opportunity to study the request, to voice their opinion, and vote and not just the few select that will attend the Chattanooga show.

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 the past several years, the blog has received many communications surrounding the issue of “Rigo”. Many asked what our motivation was to get involved in the “Rigo” issue. Quite simply, it had to do with explaining and demonstrating how things occur and what motivates individuals, groups and organizations, both positively and negatively. The blog was initially criticized by many in the bottle community for getting involved and for providing information. That information proved to be accurate and correct.   It also demonstrated the fact that the blog provided accurate and clear information based on research and contacts with the appropriate institutions and individuals.

Every week, the blog receives requests both domestically and internationally on a variety of subjects. The Owl Drug Collectors blog is the center for Owl Drug consisting of the largest and most complete collection on items related to Owl Drug, including its history, leadership, policies, practices, and products. In addition to be the center for Owl Drug we have also become experts in areas interconnected to Owl Drug such as Sun Drug, Rexall, Liggett, United Drug, “Altered bottles”, aspects of poisons, and others. The blog is also very knowledgeable of the inner workings of various clubs and other organizations, and the individuals who are involved in and run these organizations.

As part of the blog’s function we get requests to evaluate individuals, groups, and/or organizations. The evaluations are paid for and appear in written reports. They contain accurate, timely, and balanced information. The reports follow in detail the events that occur in the bottle world. One such report was written about the events that took place in Reno, known as the “Tragedy in Reno”. Most recently a report was written on the events of March in Baltimore. There apparently is a direct parallel and correlation between what occurred in Reno several years ago and most recently occurred in Baltimore. Many of the same individuals were involved in both events, particularly those in the FOHBC leadership and membership.

The blog gets requests on a daily and weekly basis to evaluate Owl Drug and other bottle related items. Those individuals are interested in what they are, their condition, their rarity, and their value, etc. Periodically we get requests to speak at different group functions on aspects of the bottle hobby or a specific bottle category or write articles for magazines or for groups, organizations, or clubs. Given our current work structure and the amount of time required to fulfill these requests, we are, at the present time, unable to satisfy all requests. The myth of the past, about sharing information or giving free information is no longer valid in 2015. Writing reports, giving speeches, and providing information and analysis requires time, work, and individuals, there for compensation is required.

From our archives the blog has selected this week a posting written in October 2012 entitled “Continuing Thoughts On Reno”. For our many new readers, supporters, and others, this posting will help you observe the numerous parallels that occurred in Reno and what just occurred in Baltimore in March 2015. The same leadership that was present in Reno was also present in Baltimore in 2015. The current president of the Baltimore Antique Bottle Club Inc in 2015 is the same president as the one in 2012 and who is responsible for the NO COMMENT regarding his Baltimore show in 2015.


In our last blog posting I addressed issues raised by a gentleman named Scott Grandstaff and requested that he answer questions we raised to him.  As of this writing, Scott has never responded to the blog or tried to contact the blog with his responses.   This apparently is a pattern for members of the Federation, past and present.  They refuse to validate their claims by responding to questions they are asked or support their claims with any factual information.  For those of you who know or thought you knew Scott you now have a better understanding of how he avoids responding to issues or questions because he cannot answer or support his comments.

For example, the claim Scott makes that “all premium bottles” have been professionally cleaned, tumbled or polished and that they retain the same value as a natural mint bottle, is totally false and a misleading statement.  Many who collect bottles have their items professionally cleaned, tumbled or polished and support the practice.  Since Scott like other profess that these bottles retain and enhance their value by doing so, others like Scott believe this as truth because they have been told so often by others and have not been shown the evidence to prove that claim is false.  Once one person believes it, they spread it to others as well.  Over the years, this idea having been spread to others and now permeates the bottle collecting community.  NO one has the courage to set the record straight or tell those collectors that this story is false and misleading.  The failure of sellers to identify their bottles as having been professionally cleaned is the perpetration of FRAUD.  The Federation, instead of stepping up to this perpetration of FRAUD, continues the practice of spreading false and misleading information to its members and allowing venders to sell their fraudulent items at their shows.  Why does the Federation fail to condemn this behavior?  Perhaps it is because many of the Federation members and its leadership have bought into this concept and many of the items in their collections reflect this situation.  The answer is, of course, because condemning this practice would be totally against their self-interest.

In the newest addition of the Federation Gazette, there is an article about the Reno Expo that makes the reader ponder why it was written this way.  The following is a copy of the article:
Success all around!
Marty Hall and Richard Siri (Reno Expo Chair and Co-Chair) report a sound financial success in all areas for our fabulous convention this past July in Reno! Kudos to these two guys and Tom Phillips (our Conventions Director), Bev Siri, Stacey LeFave and the Reno Club for the best show ever! The West is Best!

Let us examine exactly what is said and what is missing from this article.  In the previous Federation News Pam Salenak, the PR Federation spokesperson wrote an article about the expo. Pam informed the audience that major theft took place at the Reno Expo of many bottles having a value estimated between $5,000.00 and $15,000.00.  Marty Hall added a comment to Pam’s article stating that the major error that he committed as co-chair of the expo was that there was insufficient security at the show to prevent the theft.  He also stated that he should have known better since he knew that theft had occurred at previous bottle shows earlier.  The article also identifies Tom Phillips as the convention director.  Was Tom responsible for negotiating the contract with the Grand Sierra Resorts and Casino?  If not, then who?   And whoever it was should never do contracting work again!  According to the Grand Sierra Resorts and Casino people the Expo’s contract was poor, particularly in the assignment of security personnel.  Yes, security costs. Being cheap allows this type of theft to occur and that occurred at the Expo.  The next question is why was the police department not called in on the theft?  Since the theft value was between $5,000.00 and $15,000.00 this is classified as a felony theft and usually requires police investigation and a police report written.  This never happened at the expo.  The police were never contacted and therefore a police report never written or filed.  Why did the Federation leadership deliberately try to cover up this fact and fail to take the proper legal course of action? Is the Federation going to compensate the vendors whose items were stolen?  Perhaps the real question is, does the Federation even care?  Is their sole purpose to make money at a show and thereby declare it a success no matter what?  This article states the show was a financial success. Clearly, to the Federation that is all that matters!

Given those facts and the events that occurred and the failure of the Federation to take the proper course of action, why should anyone support their show or activities?……”

To our many many readers, a prospective of the past helps to be able to project what will happen in the future. The two shows exemplified in this blog posting should provide sufficient insight into what will happens in the future. If what happened in Reno and what just happened in Baltimore is any indication of what has happened, what can you expect in Chattanooga or anywhere else where this leadership and certain organizations are involved? Your feedback is always appreciated and welcome. Just remember to keep the language appropriate and refrain from personal attacks.

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.

On my return to the office this week and briefed by members of my staff I was informed that the blog’s challenge to the FOHBC to hold a seminar on “altered bottles” at the Chattanooga show has been met with total silence. There has been no response from either the President of the FOHBC or any representative from the FOHBC.

The current leadership of the FOHBC continues to demonstrate and project a lack of care or concern for the consequences of their actions. Their image continues to project exclusion and exclusiveness. The prime example is how they boast of the dinner arrangements they enjoyed prior to the bottle show in Baltimore. Who is concerned about where they went for dinner and what they ate? Are these “in your face” actions what the leadership wishes to project and the membership feels is in their best interest? The report given on the Baltimore show was full of holes, full of inaccuracies, not balanced, and failed to present a true picture of what actually occurred. In a word, the report and pictures presented by the FOHBC was a BOMBSHELL.

This bombshell in Baltimore is now dropped on the local club to live with. They are left with a mess, bitterness, and problems the club will have to live with for years to come. It can now be stated that the bombshell of Baltimore shares the same issues as the tragedy at Reno and other recent FOHBC show locations. Will new bottle show locations have to suffer the same disappointments and problems left in the wake of the FOHBC and their failure to take proper actions or come up with proper solutions to solve problems?

Baltimore city, today, is a city under siege. With no cameras rolling and the spotlight being turned off, the crime rate and murder rate has soared. The Mayor of Baltimore has lost all credibility with the citizens, police rank and file, state officials, the governor, and others. The trust one needs to do the job of administering a large city, like Baltimore, will take years to reestablish, if it can be done at all. Trust is very important. Establishing it, and maintaining it cannot be taken lightly. Trust once lost can be very difficult to regain whether in one’s personal life, a job, an organization, or club, etc.

Where is the trust from the FOHBC president? Where is the trust from the president of the Baltimore bottle club? Hiding under the “NO Comment” or silence will not stand up as credible to the rank and file of a bottle organization or any organization. Blowing you horn about a dinner you and friends had before a bottle show should never be acceptable to others as part of a report on the bottle show. This is 2015 and better standards need to be set and followed.   Asking people to support you under conditions that are exclusive is intolerable and should never be acceptable.

Following Baltimore, what can we expect in Chattanooga — a bigger bombshell; lower attendance; irrelevant seminars; undocumented bottles; poorly described bottles; altered bottles and over priced bottles? Is the leadership going to be existent or non-existent? Are they going to talk about the restaurant and meals consumed the night before the start of the show? What is going to be different about this show from other FOHBC bottle shows in the recent past? Is it just the location? What is going to be different? If it is the same or relatively the same, then why go?

Over the past several weeks, we have discussed the Ebay sale of an owl drug bottle currently for sale item #151702798927. This is the third week in a row that this item has been up for sale. The blog asked the blog audience and bottle world on how to advise this seller about his bottle and the options the seller mentions on what to do with the bottle. What should be the correct approach for this bottle? As of this writing no one has responded or picked up our challenge to help this individual seller out. This seller tells people as part of his description he suggests using a dremel tool to clean up the bottle he has for sale. When the bottle cleaning community read this new technique to clean a bottle, I am sure that they got a huge laugh. Even the Clancy Kid must have gotten a big chuckle on this one. This seller tells even bigger whoppers in his descriptions than the Clancy Kid.

Getting serious again, receiving no emails or communications from anyone in the bottle cleaning community or the FOHBC, does not surprise me or should it surprise our readers. Frankly it only reinforces their inability to meet any challenge or face issues head on that comes their way, develop a valid solution, or a serious plan to solve problems or issues.

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 begin this week’s blog posting I want to first take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the many men and women who serve and have served in our Armed Forces and protect our freedom and liberties. A heartfelt special thanks to those who made the supreme sacrifice of giving their lives so that we can enjoy the bounties our nation has to offer.

Memorial day and the weekend associated with this holiday is a very special time in the Washington, D.C. area. Not only do we have the placing of flags on the tombs of the fallen who lay to rest in Arlington Cemetery, the parade down Constitution Avenue, the concert on the West lawn of the Capitol, but also Rolling Thunder. At this time of year people from all over the country and from many other nations come to Washington to celebrate this holiday with our families and men and women of our Armed Forces.

For those of you who are unaware of Rolling Thunder, let us share with you what Rolling Thunder stands for.

Rolling Thunder Run Mission Statement
The Rolling Thunder Run mission is to educate, facilitate, and never forget by means of a demonstration for service members that were abandoned after the Vietnam War. Rolling Thunder has also evolved into a display of patriotism and respect for all who defend our country.

First Amendment Demonstration Run
The Rolling Thunder First Amendment Demonstration Run is an annual ride and gathering that first started in 1988. Riders from around the nation, and even around the world rally in the Pentagon parking lots and begin the run through the streets of Washington, D.C. Afterward, it is an opportunity to meet old and new friends, pay respect at the memorials and participate in the Memorial Day events.

Rolling Thunder Run Legislation
Our mission also includes legislative efforts. Rolling Thunder strives to affect national policy in a way that will assist POW/MIA’s. We wrote, got introduced and passed, the Missing Service Personnel Act of 1993.

Brief History of Rolling Thunder Run and its Mission
Rolling Thunder and its mission began as a demonstration following the era of the Vietnam War, which was a difficult time in our history. Many of America’s military were killed or missing in action (MIA) and their remains were not being returned home or respectfully buried. There were also reports of live prisoners of war (POW) who were left behind when the war ended. In 1987, Vietnam veteran Ray Manzo, bothered by these accounts, came to DC with his idea and enlisted the help of fellow veterans Holland, Sides, and Sampley, to organize a motorcycle demonstration to bring attention to the POW/MIA situation. Choosing Memorial Day weekend for the event, they envisioned the arrival of the motorcycles coming across the Memorial Bridge, and thought it would sound like “Rolling Thunder”. The first Run in 1988, had roughly 2500 motorcycles and riders demanding that the U.S. government account for all POW/MIA’s; it continues to grow every year, becoming the world’s largest single-day motorcycle event. Now with over a million riders and spectators combined, Rolling Thunder has evolved into an emotional display of patriotism and respect for all who defend our country.

Thousands of Harley motorcycle riders and their families come to the Washington, DC area on this weekend. They are hosted by many of our churches and Harley distributors around the Washington metropolitan area. We see them throughout the city with their American and MIA flags flying from their cycles several days prior to their ride. As a Vet myself, it is with much pride to see all the recognition finally given to our service men and women and their families, both having served in the past and currently serving.

On Sunday morning the cyclists meet at the Pentagon in preparation for their ride.

Roling THunder Run

Thousands gather to ride across the Memorial Bridge. Once across the bridge (approximately 200,000 strong) they travel around the Lincoln Memorial, and head to the Vietnam wall where they stop and acknowledge those thousands of men and woman who gave they’re all in the Vietnam War. They visit other memorials to all our service men and women including the newest of our memorials, for our disabled veterans

It is truly an awe-inspiring sight to behold.

Last week’s blog posting included an interview that took place in 2005 between Jeff Wichmann, an auctioneer, and Lou Lambert, a bottle cleaner. The importance of the interview that took place 10 years ago cannot be trivialized, especially the impact it has had on the world of “altering bottles”. This interview through a series of questions and answers gives any reader an insight in the bottle cleaning/tumbling/polishing would, how it functions, and discusses the equipment and supplies used, as well as other important facts.

It cannot be understated how destructive this process is to bottles, bottle collecting, and the bottle world in general. In addition to reading this interview, we suggest you read the posting “Conservation of Glass Bottles Versus “Professionally” Altered Bottles” that appeared on the blog on August 28, 2013. Two of our most important institutions on glass weighed in and gave their professional opinions on conservation versus altering glass.   By reading both items, the reader will appreciate why it is important to understand the two processes, which one is correct and why the altered process destroys bottles, removing any historical and monetary value. It leaves the altered bottle worthless, both to the expert and to the collector.

If altering bottles was a positive process, then why is it that those who alter bottles hide the fact that it has been done; sell it without revealing the fact; keep no records on the altering process used or the bottles that they altered; and lastly who owns the altered bottle.

It is, therefore, impossible to track what was done to the altered bottle, how many times it was altered, and where was its origin if dug (from a privy, desert area, outhouse, building site, etc). All these factors are important in properly evaluating the true importance of bottles if one is to properly determine the bottle’s historical and monetary values. Does the bottle have a historical event associated with it such as the Civil War, WWI, etc? Where was the original location of the bottle? Was it at a plantation; a gravesite; at an important river, or a battle site, etc?

The bottle world of today, for the most part, continues to be unregulated, poorly represented, unprofessional, poorly policed, functions primarily on hearsay rather than on factual information, and its primary goal is to make money for the few at the expense of many. The world of bottles has a lack of rules that govern it, check how it is running and fails to punish those who abuse it or break it. For those who currently run it and profit from it, they want it to remain as is, obstructing any efforts to change it. When challenged, the only response is – NO COMMENT as what occurred in Baltimore this year. When caught on video, they deny it. They do not answer what the video is showing. The response they give is a type of cover up. They simply state, as in the Baltimore situation, the show was a great success, while never providing any evidence to support the statement as being true.   What we get is a diatribe in the report on the restaurant that several in the leadership, including the President of the FOHBC, had dinner in prior to the Baltimore show. When suggestions are made for the benefit of the whole hobby, there is dead SILENCE!   Our suggestion to the FOHBC and directly to Ferdinand Meyer, its president, to hold a seminar on “Altered Bottles”, it is met with complete and utter silence. Why?

Last week we mentioned an Owl Drug bottles for sale on Ebay. At that time we gave the number as: #151680060340. The item did not sell so the seller relisted the item as #151692489296 again asking for $600.00 as an opening bid and using the same description. This seller is not an Owl Drug collector and has no knowledge of the product he is selling or the company it represents. His description is poor especially his suggestion to “a slight buffing with a dremel tool”. Is he for real? Why does he suggest using a dremel tool? How would you best meet this seller’s need to fix and preserve this Owl Drug bottle integrity and value? The question goes out to: Lou Lambert? Rick Kern? Digger Odell; Jerry Stokes? Rick Lease? R Wayne Lowry (The Jar Doctor)?   This is just to name a few or anyone else who wants to answer this question. Remember comments must be suitable to be printed. Notify the blog and your answer will be put out on, if appropriate. Email us at

The blog has completed its evaluation and price schedule for one and two wing Owl Drug poison bottles. For the first time collectors, buyers and sellers will have a price schedule to work from. Obtaining a copy of this information and other materials one must inform us if they are interested and send their address and the method by which the information should be sent: priority mail or FedEx. Once we receive your information, we will process it and we can inform you of the cost for the materials and shipping, as well as the methods by which you can pay. This information will not be available on the blog and only through this method.



DSCN2098  One wing Owl Drug


DSCN2102Two wing Owl Drug


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.



information must receive prior permission from the Owl Drug Collectors Blog.


We wish to thank our many readers for their positive feedback on the identification category of Altered bottles (A1 thru A4). Most readers felt that it long overdue and extremely helpful. They commented on the fact that they finally have a tool to help them identify bottles that have been altered when they collect, buy and/or sell bottles. They acknowledged the necessity to have a seminar on the subject of Altered bottles at the Chattanooga bottle show stating that it would be a great first step. Hopefully the FOHBC and its leadership will add this seminar to their seminar schedule in Chattanooga.

The following article appeared in earlier blog postings dealing with altered bottles. The article is an interview that was posted on the Internet between a bottle auctioneer and “the Dean” of bottle altering services.

“Antique Bottle Cleaning



An interview with an expert bottle cleaner

By Jeff Wichmann

Founder of American Bottle Auctions

The cleaning of antique bottles has long been a question mark in the minds of many bottle collectors. Some people want their bottles spotless and that often requires a professional cleaning. Some people, like myself, aren’t that picky and almost prefer a little stain just to show its original condition. The 21st century bottle cleaner has advanced quite a bit over the last 10 or so years. They now use very special compounds and more efficient machines. The professional can clean more bottles more quickly now, and do a better job than ever before. I talked with a professional bottle cleaner named Lou Lambert last week and asked him some questions about having bottles cleaned and what to expect.


 Can stain be removed with liquid cleaners?
Some kinds of deposits or stain can be removed with liquid cleaners but most can not. Often, the surface of a bottle will be altered with the kind of stain that can not be remove with a cleaning product. Acidic minerals in the ground over a period of many years will actually start eating away at a glass surface. The more acidic the soil the more the glass will be alterd. If you were to look at this kind of stain under very powerful magnification you’d actually see that the surface appears etched and eaten away thus giving the glass a dull whiteish look. There’s no amount of scrubbing you could ever do to remove this dull look because it’s not something that is stuck to the surface. You’ll also occasionally see a non dug bottle or decanter with  similar dullness or stain on the inside. This too is because the item  likely contained an acidic content at one time that had etched the glass surface.

 What is the most important part of having a bottle cleaned?

Lots of factors should be considered when having a bottle cleaned but I think the most important thing is NOT to over clean. It’s always better to under clean than over clean for many reasons. The longer the cleaning time, the more glass is going to be removed. If you look real closely at the surface of a blown bottle, you will see that there is a texture to an original surface. Often, over cleaning will remove this texture leaving the surface smooth, thus reducing the appearance of an original surface. There is also the risk of causing bubbles in the glass to open by cleaning. I’ve seen cases where a bubble will open and the tumbling media will pack in the open bubble causing the bottle to crack. You should also consider that who ever cleans your bottle might not have the experience of someone who does this professionally. I’ve seen way too many botched attempts at cleaning a good bottle and then they are brought to someone like myself to fix. I can’t tell you how many bottles I’ve cleaned after someone else has tried but it’s been numerous. This will often result in the over cleaning of a bottle and had it been done right the first time it could have been avoided.

You also need to consider the fact that breakage can occur in the cleaning process. I think some of the best advice I can give someone is this; “If you don’t want to risk the chance of having your bottle damaged in the cleaning process then don’t have it cleaned”.

What are the most difficult bottles to clean?

Anything other than round can be hard to clean because of the uneven tumble action, unlike a round bottle that will roll more evenly. Bottles with heavy embossing can  be a challenge getting the glass completely clean around the lettering without over cleaning the surface. Bottles with deep pockets or crevices like a Cathedral pickle can  be a problem too. Inside the neck area is another challenge to effectively clean for the novice cleaner.

Bottles that have been hydrofluoric acid cleaned are almost impossible to restore once dipped in the acid. This type of cleaning is extremely dangerous and will not produce the lustrous effect of a professional cleaning. The glass in most old bottle glass is not consistent in composition and will have hard and soft spots. Acid will eat away at the softer areas at a faster rate than the hard. When this happens, the surface will look and feel uneven. Acid will always leave a slightly dull appearance to the glass and  will work its way into the glass, leaving a dullness that can not simply be polished away.

What are your feelings about people that think it a sacrilege to clean a bottle?

In general, most antiques and collectibles are more desirable with their original surface, providing that it’s not too far-gone. Bottles are one of the few antique collectibles that are often found buried in the ground. Because of this, it’s impractical not to clean certain bottles. Often the appearance and value of a bottle can be increased by as much as ten times just by having the surfaces restored (cleaned). It took me years of personal experience, by trial and error and having cleaned many, many  bottles, but it is possible to restore a bottle surface without giving it a polished look. I think the folks who don’t like to have their bottles cleaned may not fully understand, or may not have seen a restored glass surface done by a true professional.

Lately there’s been a blog mis-leading folks by giving false inaccurate information about cleaning.  The site goes under a disquise of Owl bottles which it has little to do with.  but rather a rant to degrade & discredit anyone of importance in bottle collecting.

What are the do and don’ts of bottle cleaning?

If someone has an expensive bottle, some of my best advice is (DO) let a pro clean it. Over the years I’ve had dozens of good, expensive bottles brought to me for re-cleaning that had been attempted to be cleaned by others. This being the case, when it’s properly cleaned the second time, there has to be even more surface glass removed which often results in an over cleaned appearance. You’re also risking damage to the item by someone who’s not a pro.

The proper approach to cleaning an expensive antique bottle should be conservative, like having a piece of fine art restored. Improper or over cleaning can ruin the appearance and value of a bottle. It’s always better to under clean a bottle than to over clean. You can always clean it more, but once over cleaned, there’s no going back.

All bottle glass has a surface texture and once that texture is broken through, a bottle will have that smooth over cleaned appearance. It is possible to spot clean  and only polish or remove scratching where it’s needed, without cleaning the entire surface. Another very important factor, is being able to master 100% uniform cleaning, where the entire surface is being cleaned evenly. It’s important to uniformly clean the base, top and body at the same rate, which is very difficult to do without the proper know-how. Often you will see bottles that are over cleaned on the top and inside, but under cleaned on the base, inside the neck and in between lettering.

Awhile back I viewed two very rare Western Whiskey bottles I was interested in buying. I saw both of these bottles before they were cleaned and liked them. The owner felt his bottles would be worth more money clean, rather than stained. He had a friend do them who had over and unevenly cleaned them, leaving their surfaces mirror smooth. They looked clean all right, but unfortunately, their original surfaces had been ruined by the excessive cleaning. It had only decreased their value and my interest.

Tips for people who want to clean their own bottles? Also, why is it better to use a pro?

Cleaning your own bottles can be fun and rewarding. However, I can tell you from twenty years personal experience  that it takes several years, and hundreds of bottle cleanings, to master a technique. There are many, many, variables that need to be taken into consideration when cleaning a bottle. Composition of glass, which compound to use for certain glass, tumbling duration, motion rotation, machine speed, tumbling media, amount of compound, combinations of compounds, fluids, rate at which compounds break down, temperature, how item is secured, canister size, etc.

A good way to start is with items of very little value. Expensive or rare items are better off left in the hands of someone with a great deal of experience. Also, consider the fact that just because someone who has cleaned bottles for a long time, it does not make them a professional. I’ve seen many attempts made by some folks, who have cleaned for years, that were satisfactory at best. The best way to find someone who knows their stuff is to ask around and actually look at some of their work. Don’t have a good bottle cleaned by someone who’s work you’re not familiar with or who doesn’t come highly recommended.

Anything else you think is important? Cost of cleaning, what not to clean, whatever you think is important?

That old saying: “You get what you pay for”, usually holds true for bottle cleaning too. There are a few folks out there who will clean any bottle for around $15 and that’s exactly what your going to get… a $15 job. I’d strongly advise anyone to NOT have a good bottle cleaned in this manor. Most true professionals will charge on a individual basis, dependent on the extent of restoration needed.

     What about potstones, cracks, bubbles and tight corners?

All of these can present problems and possible damage in cleaning a bottle. Potstones will often crack in the cleaning process. I’d advise folks who have a nice bottle with a potstone to, NOT have it cleaned. Cracks can travel in the cleaning process and can cause a bottle to come apart while cleaning. Bubbles close to the inner or outer surface can open, thus causing compound and tumbling media to lodge inside the open area. I’ve also seen bottles break when this happens from the pressure of the material being packed into a tight space. Corners can become tightly packed with tumbling media, causing a bottle to crack from the pressure. However, there are ways to prevent this from happening.


What’s clear from our discussion with Lou, is that not every bottle needs cleaning and that over- cleaning is the worst thing you can do to a bottle. For those of you who just want to spruce up a favorite bottle, without going to a pro, you might try what Bryan Grapentine does. He gets a little polish from a rock-polishing store. He next makes a water/polish compound and coats the bottle with it. Then, he very gently rubs the bottle, continuing to use cool water on the surface. This way of cleaning is easy, inexpensive, and it enables you to stop at any time when the results are satisfactory. Of course, that doesn’t do you any good if you have a bottle stained from the inside. For a good start, with real hard to get rust and other gunk, a solution of 50% water and 50% muriatic acid can really help. Also, don’t forget that if you dig a bottle, sometimes it’s amazing what a little soap and water will do. Make sure you don’t use warm or hot water and then allow it to sit in a cool breeze. The same is true of the reverse. I had more than one bottle talk to me after I cleaned it, then let it dry by a warm light. It said, “tink”.

Some cleaning suggestions:

  1. Room temp water only. Anything other than that can cause bottle glass to crack.
  2. Always turn bottle up-side-down and leave in box over night to drain all excess water.
  3. Vinegar and water 50/50 is a good cleaning combo.
  4. Coca-Cola works well too believe it or not.
  5. If you use muriatic be sure to wear eye protection and gloves and use only in a well ventilated area. ALWAYS keep your muriatic solution in a plastic container and covered with a lid. The fumes will cause metal to rust up to 40 feet away. Always dilute with water and pour the acid into the water and NOT water into acid. 

The author of the article, like others who are in the business of cleaning, polishing, or tumbling bottles unfortunately does not discuss the money aspects of what they are doing.  Obviously this is a business and therefore makes money for them.  They charge a fee depending upon the difficulty or value of the bottle they are working on.  Bottle cleaning or polishing is an area of collecting that is seldom if ever talked about or discussed in an open forum, but is quite well known in bottle circles, if asked.

Why is it when you go to a bottle show or try to buy a bottle on-line that the buyer is never informed in person or in the auction description that the item has been cleaned, polished, or tumbled?  Even when the owner knows that the bottle has been altered or has had it altered, he or she never reveals to the buyer what has been done to the bottle prior to putting it up for sale.

Why is it not made clear to a potential buyer that a bottle is cleaned, polished, or tumbled?  I suspect that if a potential buyer knew the real condition (an altered condition due to cleaning, polishing, or tumbling) of his potential purchase he would not buy the bottle or perhaps negotiate for a lower price.

Another major point that this article does not address or possibly will never address by professional bottle cleaners is what their responsibility is as it relates to the bottle collecting hobby.  They would probably tell you that they just clean the bottles as their job and collect a fee for doing the job.  What happens to the bottle is not their responsibility but that of the bottle owner.  The owner in turn will tell you that is ok to clean bottles, it makes them better.  The potential buyer is never informed and is often misled.  The result of these events is the continuation of polluting the bottle pool with altered verses natural state bottles.  As a consequence the overall hobby suffers, no one cares or shows any concern and the hobby continues to slide into a negative place.

We are now faced with a bottle pool littered with so many altered bottles as a result of cleaning, polishing, or tumbling that the quality of bottles being sold at any given time is subject to question.  Since the bottle pool keeps shrinking and the demand for quality bottles keeps increasing, this situation of altered versus natural bottles becomes more serious.

What is the answer or answers to this issue?  There are several areas where possible solutions can be found.  Just like medicine bottles, any bottle being sold must have a label on it stating its condition and whether it has been altered and by what process.  In this way the potential buyer will truly know what he or she is buying.  Without this label, the bottle should not be sold in the open market.  A second possible solution involves bottle shows.    They must do a better job in monitoring the set ups in their shows.  The people who sell in the shows should be well aware of the consequences for misleading potential buyers.  Apparently the organizers of bottle shows do not feel it is their responsibility to monitor their shows.  I have heard the same arguments at gun shows as well.  The questions of why do I have to fill out a gun form or why do I have to be subject to a police check are constantly asked.  I am not suggesting that forms or background checks become a part of a bottle show.  I am suggesting that bottle show organizers take more responsibility in better monitoring the items sold at bottle shows.  Providing checks and balances is part of our free society and is essential for everyone to be able to enjoy freedom and success.   Lastly the bottle federation needs better enforcement of their rules and policies especially at their sponsored bottle shows.   In this way bottle shows and on-line selling and buying will be better and more successful.  If those of us who collect, buy, and/or sell do a better job for the bottle collecting hobby, future generations will be able to enjoy this hobby as much and maybe more than we do now.

Keeping this interview in perspective that was done in 2005, let us fast forward to now 2015, 10 years later. What has occurred?   1) An explosion in the number of bottles that have been altered and are now part of the bottle world; 2) An explosion in the number of people promoting themselves as “professional bottle cleaners as well as providing cleaning services; 3) Failure to identify bottles that have been altered, be it at shows, in auctions, on line or at any venue where bottles are bought and sold; 4) Failure to properly educate individuals about bottles that are or have been altered and the altering process thru the normal channels in the bottle world such as the FOHBC and/or bottle clubs and other bottle-related organizations or materials; 5) The proliferation of bottle altering machines, equipment, and supplies found at bottle shows, on line, and elsewhere; 6) Failure to recognize and acknowledge the documentation from glass experts that “altered bottles” destroy the historic authenticity and money value of any bottle and refuse to pass that information onto their organization members and the bottle world.

The blog brings to your attention the following information that is currently appearing on Ebay. The item under discussion is #151680060340. We draw you attention to the condition section where the seller states: “…Condition: Because everything is just so with this bottle, I will mention the only possible drawback, a detail almost not worth our time. On the raised embossing of the left eye, there is the slightest bit of abrasion. If you care, I would recommend a slight buffing with a dremel tool, as that’s all it would take to clean that up. Besides the superlatives I’ve related and photographed about the embossing, I will certify that there are no cracks, chips, fleabites or scratches of any significance. I have carefully examined a tiny brown line on one side, because of its resemblance to a crack (see last photo). I finally held it in a bright light, and by tipping it back and forth I could see that the interior of the glass plane shows no flaw as I watched the inside of the glass and outside of the glass move in relation to one another.  I believe this line to be either an impurity during manufacture, or to be just another part of the groundwater etching. Any and all other lines seen on the outside are ground water etching details. The bottle has overall light opalescence and equally slight groundwater etching, but the embossing is so fine that the minimal amount of tumbling to remove what I believe is a beautiful finish will also cause some of the detail to be lost. But hey, place the opening bid, and it will be your choice to risk putting it in a tumbler.”

How would you advise this man? Does he make any sense? Would you use a DREMEL tool?   Is the opening price on this bottle, given the condition that the seller describes, a fair market value? What source is the seller using to justify this opening price? Does he recognize what he is doing? Clearly from his Ebay selling background, he has little or no knowledge of Owl Drug bottles, as well as the bottle altering process.

Citing this example of many that cross our desk each and every day and every week, we suggested to the FOHBC that they add a seminar on altered bottles. This seminar would take the first important step to “inform and educate” their membership and others in the bottle world on this subject. As a main part of the FOHBC’s mission and by laws, this subject obviously needs to be explored, discussed, and dealt with. Unfortunately at this time the blog has not heard from the FOHBC or their spokesman as to whether such a seminar could or would be scheduled or added to their program.

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



The blog wishes to acknowledge our newest readers who have joined our ranks in the past several weeks. A particular thank you goes out to those of you from other countries from around the world. – France, Hungary, Australia, Canada, India, to name a few.

These readers have expressed an interest in the national events that have occurred in Baltimore most recently, in conjunction with our postings on the Baltimore bottle club show. They shared their thoughts, outrage and dismay about the “NO COMMENT” statement by the president of the Baltimore club and the fact that the FOHBC organization supported the statement, as well as allowing a report full of holes and little detail about the show, and then calling the show a success. They cannot understand why the membership of the FOHBC here in the United States can sit idlely by and not make their voices of dismay heard. How can the author of the report of the Baltimore bottle show call the show a success? The photos of the show that were presented as representative of the show lack proper identification of the items and their categories present on the tables. Nowhere does the author talk about the kinds of items, the quantity and/or quality of the items on the tables. He only gives the name of the person behind the table. Was that person behind the table the vendor and/or owner of the bottles? Did the author of the report ever speak with the vendors or owners or did he simply take the photos given to him and put them into a report without verifying the authenticity, truth or background of the individual in the photos? If a person writes a review of a show such as a Broadway show or an art show, etc, the author or reviewer provides the readers great detail about what he observed and what information he gained from the participants and the audience. He outlines the pros and cons of the show illustrating why and how the show was or was not a success. All of that is totally missing in the report.

It is quite clean that the author of this report on the Baltimore bottle show is a novice and a volunteer and lacks the experience. Why would the FOHBC give such an important responsibility to a novice? If this is his first report then where was the FOHBC leadership in guiding him properly and supporting him through this experience? Where was their review of this report? Did they leave the guidance and support at the restaurant the night before the show? How could they allow such an important document and photos to be put out for the world to see? Did they care what was put out? Apparently not. Is this the type of report the FOHBC members want or deserve to receive or what they are paying for?

Many of our readers have indicated their desire to see the collecting hobby grow and change direction from that of massing items for collections and buying and selling into including educating people about the joy of collecting itself and learning about the histories of nations, peoples, and companies that have made this world grow and prosper. In this way new generations will continue to want to participate in the bottle-collecting hobby.

When the blog questions the FOHBC organization and its leadership’s support of the actions of some of their members and show participants, the FOHBC ignores the facts and simply calls the blog the “Bad Guys”. Amazingly the FOHBC never admits their failings or failures. It is always somebody else’s fault, never their fault. They never explain what they do or why they do it. A perfect example is what happened in Reno, then in New England, then in Lexington, and now in Baltimore.

If a person participates in a bottle show and then produces a report on that show, it is the responsibility of that person and organization to provide the proper and complete details about the show as well as answering any questions about what occurred at the show. Where is the justification of tying the dining and social adventures into this report on the Baltimore bottle show? Who is it for and why?

If a person wanted to learn about bottle shows and wanted to attend one, and used this report as the example of what a good show would be, then the person would never attend a bottle show especially recommended by the FOHBC or the Baltimore bottle club. Our readers could not believe that this report on the bottle show was used for saying the Baltimore bottle show was a success, while all other evidence shown is proof to the contrary.

Two years ago, the president of the FOHBC asked the blog to provide some suggestions as to how to improve the organization of the FOHBC and increase its membership. The blog provided the following: develop programs for the youth, women, and minorities; development of a research center; creation of a permanent structure where seminars and members could meet and share information; and develop a program to counteract the proliferation of “Altered Bottles”, to name but a few.

Two years later, none of those suggestions have become reality. No programs have ever been designed, developed, or implemented by the FOHBC.

Our readers have asked if one of the seminars to be given at the Chattanooga show, can be a seminar on “Altered Bottles” to include individuals who provide bottle cleaning, tumbling, and/or polishing services to speak and demonstrate how this process works. Over the last several weeks, in talking to people both in the FOHBC and others in the bottle community, there is a total misunderstanding and lack of awareness of the bottle altering process. Having such a seminar would be beneficial to the FOHBC members and the rest of the bottle community, and a great service to one and all. There is sufficient time between now and the July-August 2015 timeframe when the Chattanooga show is scheduled to add this seminar to the show and the schedule.

A review of the current literature on poisons and particularly on one and two winged Owl Drug poisons, we find it to be outdated, incorrect, or incomplete. One of the major flaws in the information is that the Rexall Drug Company bought out the Owl Drug Company in 1920. That information is totally incorrect. The Owl Drug Company of San Francisco was in full operation under its own ownership in the 1920’s. The Rexall Drug Company NEVER OWNED the Owl Drug Company, period. A complete categorization and classification of Owl Drug poison, one and two wing, will become available in the next few weeks. The way this information will be distributed has not been finalized as yet.

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


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