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Auction Report: Chalmers Catawba Wine Bitters Bottle Closes in on $20,000 Price

by WorthPoint Staff (01/25/10).

This Chalmer's Catawba wine bitters bottle, graded 9.8 and one of the top five western bidders, sold for $19,600—this top-selling item in an Internet and catalog auction hosted by American Bottle Auctions that closed on Jan. 18, 2010.

This Chalmer's Catawba wine bitters bottle, graded 9.8 and one of the top five western bidders, sold for $19,600—this top-selling item in an Internet and catalog auction hosted by American Bottle Auctions that closed on Jan. 18, 2010.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A Chalmer Catawba wine bitters bottle, graded 9.8 for condition and considered one of the top five western bitters known, sold for $ 19,600 in an Internet and catalog auction hosted by American Bottle Auctions. The bottle was the top lot in a sale, which closed on Jan. 18, 2010, that saw some 325 rare and vintage bottles sold and grossed more than $275,000.

The bottle—trademarked Sutters Old Mill, Spruance Stanley & Co., Proprietors—had an applied top and boasted loads of whittle, in a brilliant bluish aqua color. “This one had a solid strike and we can’t imagine a better example,” said Jeff Wichmann of American Bottle Auctions. “This very same bottle sold in one of our earlier auctions, and it set a record price. It’s the real deal, the very best.”

It was the 49th Internet and catalog auction hosted by American Bottle Auctions, which specializes in rare and vintage bottles mostly made between 1850 and 1900, the period most desired by collectors, when superior embossing techniques were employed. Nearly 5,000 people registered to bid, but only a fraction of that total (around 300 people) actually submitted bids. Of those, 175 were winning bidders.

“The market right now is as strong as I’ve ever seen it,” said Wichmann. “Every sale we have seems to be better than the one before it. This auction was certainly one of our best ever. I attribute that to the tremendous variety of merchandise, and the response to that merchandise by our bidders. Historical flasks and bitters did especially well. They’re sitting atop the bottle market now.”

Following are additional highlights of the sale (all prices quoted include a 12-percent buyer’s premium):

This “For Our Country/Eagle” pint flask sold for $14,560.

This “For Our Country/Eagle” pint flask sold for $14,560.

• A “For Our Country/Eagle” pint flask, more than 150 years old, with sheared lip and pontil, in a color best described as tobacco green with striations of olive, soared to $14,560. The bottle was graded 9.8 and depicted a 20-star flag surrounded by six ribs. Also, a Baltimore Sunburst half-pint (circa 1840-50), graded 9.8, in a light to medium pinkish copper color and a superior high-quality example, hit $11,200.

• A spectacular Bridgeton New Jersey-Washington bottle with sheared lip and jagged tubular pontil, graded 9.8 and with an outstanding medium to deep amber coloration near the base, climbed to $10,080. Also, a flawless Miller’s Extra E. Martin Old Bourbon trademark, probably the most desired of the Cutter fifths, with strong embossing and an overall beautiful patina to the glass, rose to $8,960.

This Washington/Baltimore Glassworks portrait pint flask sold for $8,400.

This Washington/Baltimore Glassworks portrait pint flask sold for $8,400.

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