Published: February 8, 2022
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Glass Works Auction
PENNSBURG, PENN. – Specializing in antique bottles, glass, stoneware and related items, Glass Works Auctions closed out its Premiere catalog auction #155 on two days – January 31 and February 1. There were 150 lots crossing the finish line on January 31 in the timed closing auction, and the following day saw an additional 135 lots cross the block. The sale totaled $470,438 with only four lots being passed and 149 successful bidders. “It’s because of volume,” explained Jim Hagenbuch, the firm’s owner, as to why the auction is split into two sessions closing on successive days. “Also, you’ll notice everything is sold by category, pretty much in that order. Some categories are stronger than the others, and you also get a crossover of people who collect more than one category. So, normally what we’ll do is put several of the strong categories in the first day and some in the second day. But if you’re looking for flasks, you’re only going to be bidding on one day. Same with whiskies.”
There were some 30 consignors contributing to the auction and about 10-12 collections represented, said Hagenbuch. “If we were selling an individual’s entire collection, they never sell in one auction; they’re broken up over a period of sales.”
Medicines were strong, “as they always are,” he said, probably the bitters bottles would have been next.”
Easily the blowout bottle was a deep yellowish “old” amber bottle labeled G.W. Stone’s – Liquid / Cathartic And / Family Physic – Lowell Mass.” The circa 1840-55 example found a buyer willing to part with $37,440, a record price, to put it on the shelf. Standing 9 inches high, with improved pontil and applied tapered collar mouth, it was deemed a “perfect example” by the auction house, which further exclaimed, “A prime example, nicely whittled glass and completely full of tiny air bubbles, some so tightly knit as to appear as a Milky Way! One of the all-time great New England colored pontil medicine bottles!” Hagenbuch said, “Only a few of these exist and this was an outstanding example. The buyer was a customer of ours, but it was not someone who I expected to be the winning bidder. You get a lot of wild cards in this industry.”
You can see a rotating image of this rare bottle in the Virtual Museum of Historic Bottles and Glass on the web. Its form is rectangular with beveled corners, three debossed beveled indented panels and in a rich honey amber glass. The actual contents of the patent medicine in the day were barks, roots and seeds, and as a cathartic it was advertised to “purify the blood from all humors,” as described in an 1856 edition of the Maine Register.
Out of the collection of Hagenbuch himself came the sale’s second highest selling lot, which was not a bottle but a rare and important pot lid. No ordinary piece, it bore an illustration and the legend “The Highest Premium Awarded at The Great Worlds Fair To / (three woman praying) / Jules Hauel, Perfumer. Philadelphia.” The circa 1855 cream color pot and lid with black transfer measured 1½ inches high with a 3½-inch diameter. It sold for $18,720. “I used to collect these things,” recalled Hagenbuch. “At one point in time I had the best collection known to man, but sold the collection about 20 years ago.” The extremely rare lid, he added, benefitted from the fact that “pictorals are always by far the better ones, they’re more exciting, the graphics are great on them. This particular one, I’m not sure I know of another one. When you get something like this that nobody has, then you’re going to get the top dogs anytime.”
Fetching $10,530 was a pint flask emblazoned “General Jackson” / Bust Of Jackson – Eagle “J.R. / Laird. Sc. Pitts.” Produced by the Pittsburgh District Glass Works, Pittsburgh, Penn., it was clear glass with amethyst tint, open pontil, sheared and tooled lip. The catalog cited its very bold impression and noted its rating as extremely rare and listed as number 23 in George McKearin’s listing of “Most Desirable Flasks.”
The last time Glass Works had an auction record for a Holman’s Natures Grand Restorative was in 1994. Ex Dr Greer collection, the rare example in this sale realized $9,360. Produced by J.B. Holman, Prop., Boston Mass., the circa 1840-60 bottle presented a yellowish “old” olive amber, stood 6-5/8 inches high with open pontil and applied mouth. Possibly created during the lip finishing, there was a pinhead in size flake off the side of the lip and a 3/16-by-1/8-inch gouge type chip off the top outer edge. Still, it was considered an exceptional example, completely full of air bubbles.
Aristocratic sensibilities were on offer with a half-size onion-form wine bottle featuring a Pierrepont crest with a fox passant beneath a Baron’s Coronet. Produced in Shropshire, England, circa 1695-1700, the deep olive amber bottle stood 5¼ inches high with a 4-inch base diameter and earned $7,020. Catalog notes that the Pierrepont family home, “Holme Pierrepont,” in Nottinghamshire was built at the end of the Fifteenth Century. In 1976 four or five such bottles were found on a construction site for a new motor way near Shropshire. They remain the only known examples. This is one of those bottles.
Another choice flask of note was a concentric ring Eagle quart flask from New England Glass Works, circa 1815-25. Going out at $7,020, it was clear green with yellowish tint. With pontil-scarred base, sheared and tooled lip, it was characterized as about perfect and its unusual form noted as highly sought-after by flask collectors.
One of the more impressive looking of the Bininger series of bottles, an example ex Charles Aprill collection took $5,557. Circa 1860-70, the cannon-shaped bottle was marked “A.M. Bininger & Co. / 19 Broad St. / N.Y.,” colored a medium yellow amber, 12¼ inches high with smooth base, rough sheared and tooled lip. Providentially, 95 percent of its original multicolored label was intact, reading: “Bininger’s Great Gun Gin, A.M. Bininger & Co. Established 1778, Sole Proprietors, No. 19 Broad St., N.Y.”
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. The firm’s next auction is a Discovery/Potpourri Auction, #156. It will open for bidding on February 28, closing on March 7-8. More than 450 lots will be offered. For information, www.glswrk-auction.com or 215-679-5849.
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