Rare bottle hits $64.960 at American Bottle Auctions' 50th sale A Powell & Stutenroth “Favorite Bitters” bottle, graded 9.7 out of 10 for condition, soared to $64,960 at the 50th Internet and catalog ever held by American Bottle Auctions (AmericanBottle.com).
News-Antique.com - Jun 28,2010 - (SACRAMENTO, Calif.) – A Powell & Stutenroth “Favorite Bitters” bottle, one of only a few known and graded 9.7 out of 10 for condition, soared to $64,960 at the 50th Internet and catalog ever held by American Bottle Auctions (AmericanBottle.com). The bottle was the top lot of the more than 300 rare and vintage bottles sold. Most dated from the mid-to-late 19th century.
The auction went online May 24 and concluded June 1. Internet bidding was brisk all week.
“Overall, the sale was a success but, as any auctioneer will tell you, auctions are a scary thing,” said Jeff Wichmann of American Bottle Auctions. “You’re only as good as your last sale. For example, we sold a Lediard’s Celebrated Bitters bottle in this auction for $1,500, but the last time we offered one it went for over $5,000. And we couldn’t give away inks and pickle jars.”
Mr. Wichmann said green pontiled umbrella inkwells that have typically sold in the $1,000 range were barely bringing $400. “Some non-bottle items,” he added, “like U.S. eagle pieces we thought would be of interest, were sluggish and fetched only a few hundred dollars apiece. That was just a sign that people want to buy bottles, not non-bottle items, at our sales.”
Overall, however, the successes far outweighed the disappointments. The Powell & Stutenroth bottle was a good example, sailing past its high estimate of $20,000 to hammer for more than three times that figure. The bottle, a precursor to the later “People’s Favorite Bitters,” still had the original cork (albeit with a hole punched through). But overall it was nearly perfect.
The auction, which began May 24 and ended June 1, featured bitters, fruit jars, medicines, historical and western flasks, western whiskeys, sodas and more – the categories collectors have come to expect from American Bottle Auctions in its 20-year history. “Like a fine wine, each auction seems to improve with age,” Mr. Wichmann said. “Let’s do 50 more!”
Following are additional highlights from the sale. All prices quoted include a 12 percent buyer’s premium.
A Bryant’s Stomach Bitters (B-242) cone bottle, the best whole one of several that were recently unearthed in Sacramento, sold for $40,320. Bryant’s is considered by some to be the top western bitters bottle. This example, a brilliant emerald green, was restored (by Marty Hall) but even close examination belies it was repaired. This bottle was made in the east, sold in the west.
A W&B Shasta Superior Mineral Water bottle (Union Glassworks, Philadelphia) brought $15,680. With original closure and all-original graphite pontil, the bottle showed just a slight amount of wear and had obviously never been in the ground. Shasta bottles are considered by collectors as one of the top western sodas, if not the top. This example boasted a grading of 9.
A Washington/Bridgeton (N.J.) bottle with sheared lip and pontil and having a very rare tobacco amber coloration (they’re rarely seen outside of aqua) coasted to $9,520. The bottle was a brilliant example, graded 9.7