Published: September 13, 2022
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Norman C. Heckler & Company
WOODSTOCK VALLEY, CONN. – Norman Heckler presented more than 70 choice examples of glass bottles in his firm’s Premier Auction 210, an online sale that ran August 17-31. The sale totaled $472,680 with just two lots passed and between 150 and 200 registered bidders participating on Heckler’s own platform.
Among the celebrated classics and new discoveries was an hourglass Masonic historical flask that sold for $19,890 to a private collector. Probably from the Coventry Glass Works, Coventry, Conn., 1815-30, the half-pint GIV-29 bottle featured a light olive yellow coloration, sheared mouth and pontil scar. Its brilliant, light color, strong embossing and extremely rare, fine condition made it highly desirable. It was ex McBaron collection and the Jay and Maxine Jacobs collection, West Coast collectors who have been acquiring rare and desirable bottles for decades.
According to the Virtual Museum of Historical Bottles and Glass, the first American Mason lodge was established in Philadelphia in 1730, and future revolutionary leader Benjamin Franklin was a founding member. George Washington joined Freemasonry in the Lodge at Fredericksburg, Va. when he was 20 years old.
Most Masonic flasks were manufactured between the years 1810 and 1830 in the United States during the period American Freemasonry, which was considered both a fraternal and patriotic organization, was at its zenith. During this period, it was not unusual for Masonic lodges to meet in local taverns or in rooms rented for the occasion. Following the meeting, the brethren would customarily assemble for a “festive board” or collation, at which toasts were offered and libations consumed. As likely as not, Masonic flasks came into use at this time and some of these examples could have been on tables, full of spirits to stimulate dialog, conversation and comradery.
Top lot in the sale was a figural example, a “Tippencanoe” – “North Bend” historical cabin bottle, probably Mount Vernon Glass Works, Vernon, N.Y., circa 1840, which realized $47,970, close to the top of its estimate, going to a West Coast collector. Of log cabin form, medium to deep forest green, the pint-plus bottle featured an applied sloping collared mouth with ring, tubular pontil scar and a 1/8-inch hole in one corner of base. GVII-1, it was described as “historically important and awe inspiring,” one of the few known examples.
Rara Avis, a lot that was not a bottle but a blown three-mold bowl brought $33,930. It was a brilliant yellow green with an outward tooled rim, made by the Kent Glass Works, Portage County, Ohio, 1825-35. At a height of 2-7/8 inches and 8-inch diameter, it was in fine condition. Heckler said there may only be three known examples.
“E.G. Booz’s Old Cabin Whiskey” was made for Edmund G. Booz by the Whitney Glass Works of Glassboro, N.J., around 1860-70. At his death, Booz is said to have had 25 cases of Cabin Whiskey in stock, valued at $6 a case or 50 cents per bottle, and the famous bottle has been widely reproduced. At 2022 auction prices, this cabin-form bottle in amber, with applied sloping collared mouth and smooth base hit $31,590. It stood 7½ inches high and retained about 75 percent of its original wrap around the label, which, quipped Heckler is “where rare bottles and ephemera meet.” It was ex Robert Heath collection, Jay and Maxine Jacobs collection.
Washington-Eagle portrait flasks continue to show market strength, with an example probably by Bridgeton Glass works, Bridgeton, N.J., 1836-55, going out at $21,060, more than triple its high estimate. The lime green bottle had an overall olive tone with what the catalog described as “a severe influence of citron,” resulting in a rare color. It was discovered at a sea captain’s home in Nantucket a number of years ago. Beautiful, extremely rare color.
“Success to the Railroad” proclaimed a historical flask by the Lancaster Glass Works, Lancaster, N.Y., 1849-60. Ex Judge Ed Mackenzie collection and Jay and Maxine Jacobs collection, the pint flask was sapphire blue, with an inward rolled mouth and tubular pontil scar, earning $17,550, more than twice high estimate.
Fetching $11,115 was another Masonic historical flask, this one a Masonic “JKB” Eagle made by Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks, Keene, N.H., 1815-30. With strong embossing and a rare Prussian blue color, it was from the Jay and Maxine Jacobs collection.
Representing just a good old American cylindrical bottle, an “Old Virginia Peach Brandy” bottle, 1845-60, had been recently found in New Jersey. It was dandelion honey yellow with olive overtones, with an applied sloping collared mouth with ring and iron pontil mark, standing 12½ inches high. Its fine condition took it to $10,530, twice high estimate.
More Eagle flasks of note included a quart Eagle “New London Glass Works” and anchor historical flask, New London, Conn., 1860-66, yellow with an Acacia honey tone, applied double collared mouth and smooth base from the Jay and Maxine Jacobs collection, which neared its high estimate at $9,945; a rare Double Eagle half-pint historical flask, Coventry Glass Works, Coventry, Conn., 1830-48, in a brilliant light lime/citron green, perhaps one of three known and discovered a number of years ago at a Connecticut flea market, which was bid to twice its high estimate at $8,190; and from the Midwest a pint Double Eagle historical flask, 1830-60, in deep aquamarine, which left the gallery at $4,680. Ex Paul Richards collection and Jay and Maxine Jacobs collection, it was extremely rare with three or four known examples.
Two scroll flasks were among the top highlights. One with an anchor-scroll and fleur-de-lis flask, possibly manufactured by John Robinson and Son Manufacturers, Pittsburgh, Penn., 1830-34, was ice blue and sold for $8,190. The other was an American example, 1845-60, moonstone with a pink cast, a rare and unusual color. It realized $4,095 and was one of Heckler’s favorite items in the sale, likening its pearly white color to clambroth glass usually associated with Cape Cod glass.
Another recent discovery came in the form of “Dr J.B. Henion’s Sure Cure For Malaria,” a bright sapphire blue medicine bottle, circa 1885, with a large applied “mushroom” mouth and smooth base. Standing 5½ inches high, it had been recently unearthed in Connecticut and brought $5,850.
The Jay and Maxine Jacobs collection also contributed a sunburst flask from the Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks, Keene, N.H., 1815-25. In clear medium green with sheared mouth and pontil scar, the half pint flask’s color and crisp mold impression took it to $3,803.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, www.hecklerauction.com or 860-974-1634.
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