Wormser Brothers bottle hits $18,480 at American Bottle Auctions A Wormser Brothers barrel bitters bottle, maybe the only green one in existence, soared to $18,480 in an Internet and catalog auction that began Aug. 29 and ended Sept. 8 by American Bottle Auctions.
News-Antique.com - Sep 19,2011 - (SACRAMENTO, Calif.) – A Wormser Brothers barrel bitters bottle, made between 1867 and 1871 and quite possibly the only green example in existence (most are amber in color), soared to $18,480 in an Internet and catalog auction that began Aug. 29 and ended Sept. 8 by American Bottle Auctions (www.americanbottle.com). It was the top lot of the 146 bottles sold.
“That very same bottle in amber would probably only fetch around $1,800,” said Jeff Wichmann of American Bottle Auctions. “Color is everything, and this is the only green example I’m aware of. It is also heavily whittled, something you don’t often see in Wormser bottles. The top was crude and perfect and we graded it 9.6, only because of a light cleaning.”
Wormser barrel bitters were an early western bitters made in San Francisco, mainly in the 1860s. They were considered extremely rare until a group was found in Virginia City, Va., some years ago. Then the bottle just sold plus seven others (all amber) were found near the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon more recently. The owner consigned the green one for this sale.
The auction, which grossed just over $182,000, was a success by any measure, Mr. Wichmann said. “The page received over 60,000 views, and we had 192 bidders and 98 winners. Some, but not many, phone bids were also recorded. The average bottle sold for around $1,200, and usually it’s more like $1,000. That was a big plus, and bidder participation was very strong.”
The sale featured mainly historical flasks, bitters and food jars (such as pepper sauces). “Once again, quality excelled,” Mr. Wichmann observed. “A good number of bottles sold in the $3,000-$15,000 range, and that to me is a strong sign that the overall market for rare and vintage bottles is very healthy, even in a down economy. And we continue to get in killer consignments.”
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 12 percent buyer’s premium.
A very early General Lafayette portrait pint – with the “La” and the “Fayette” broken up, plus a reversed “N” – went for $6,720. The bottle had a wonderful pebbled surface and a light to medium bluish green coloration. The reverse side depicted an eagle and stars. It was graded 9.8 out of 10 for condition. “It would be difficult to imagine a better example,” Mr. Wichmann said.
A Greeley’s Bourbon bitters bottle with an applied top and pure green coloration, rose to $5,600. American Bottle Auctions sold the bottle in 2007 and presented it again in this sale. It had a couple of little scratches, but there was also nice crudity, a perfect top and wonderful hue. The condition (graded 9.6) and overall character made this bitters bottle about as good as it gets.
A Zanesville Shepard & Company (Ohio) pint flask with Masonic emblem on the reverse side climbed to $5,376. The bottle isn’t generally rare, but few are seen in this yellowish green color (most are deep