Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks Sunburst Snuff Jar Gavels for $57,330 at Auction

This sunburst snuff jar, made between 1815 and 1830 at the Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks in New Hampshire, sold for $57,330, making it the top lot at a Norman C. Heckler & Company’s Internet auction that closed on March 26.

WOODSTOCK, Conn. – A sunburst snuff jar made between 1815 and 1830 at the Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks in New Hampshire—an extremely rare piece and in virtually perfect condition—sold for $57,330, highlighting a recent Norman C. Heckler & Company’s Internet auction.

It was a tidy, online-only affair that saw a little fewer than 100 items come up for bid, but the bottles were all strong examples in a wide variety of categories.

“This was not our biggest sale ever, that’s for sure, but what we offered were great bottles and a broad range of bottle types,” said Norman Heckler. “We had early glass, historical flasks, colored medicines, whimsey hats, bitters, inks, black glass and more. The quality of the bottles, combined with enthusiastic bidders, made for a highly successful auction.”

The auction went online March 17 and concluded March 26. The vast majority of bids poured into the company’s website, although telephone bids were also taken. The sale attracted more than 1,200 registered online bidders and 37,000 online views. By the time it was over, the auction had grossed $465,000. The average per lot price was $4,835.

The sunburst snuff jar was the top lot of the auction. Bidders were drawn to its rarity, deep yellowish-green color, and condition. The bottle had come from the collection of Clarissa Vanderbilt Dundon, the daughter of pioneer bottle collector Merritt Vanderbilt. The collection of mostly historical flasks has long been admired and sought after. Other important collections were also in the sale.

Following are additional highlights from the auction (all prices quoted include a 17-percent buyer’s premium):

• Historical flasks and medicines did particularly well. In the former category, a light yellow-olive eagle cornucopia half-pint flask, made circa 1815-1830 at the Pitkin Glass Works (Manchester, Conn.), fetched $39,780; and a brilliant, yellow-green concentric ring eagle flask made circa 1818-1830 at the New England Glass Company (Cambridge, Mass.) hammered for $31,590;

• Two other historical flasks posted identical selling prices of $22,230. One was a double eagle pint flask in a bright sapphire blue and made circa 1850-1855, possibly at the Kentucky Glass Works (Louisville, Ky.). The other was an early Pittsburgh (Pa.) district medium bluish aquamarine “Hard Cider” log cabin historical pint flask made sometime between 1820-1840;

• Tops among the medicine bottles was an extremely rare rectangular yellow-amber bottle with beveled corners, made circa 1840-1860 featuring the embossed “Rushton & / Aspinwall / New-York – Compound / Chlorine / Toothwash.” It was probably manufactured at a Stoddard or Keene (both N.H.) glasshouse ($23,400). The runner-up spot went to a “Howard’s / Vegetable / Cancer And / Canker Syrup” medicine bottle, circa 1846-1860, at a Stoddard glasshouse, rectangular in shape and bright golden amber ($15,210);

• An “A. Mosher” oval-form rich blue-green sarsaparilla medicine bottle (probably made in the Albany, N.Y., area), circa 1845-1860 and having great whittle to the glass, brought $5,558; and an “I. Newton’s / Panacea / Purifier / of the Blood” (Norwich, Vt.) cylindrical yellow-amber medicine bottle, probably made at a Stoddard glasshouse, circa 1846-1860, commanded $4,388; 

This Eagle cornucopia historical half-pint flask by Pitkin Glass Works in Connecticut, circa 1815-1830, brought $39,780.

This concentric ring eagle historical flask made by New England Glass Company in Cambridge, Mass., circa 1818-1830, realized $31,590.

This Rushton & Aspinall medicine bottle, probably made between 1840 and 1860 by a Keene or Stoddard glassworks—both located in New Hampshire— sold for $23,400.

• Rounding out the category, a “Mede’s / Mexican / Fluid / New York” yellow-amber medicine bottle in a most unusual six-sided form, circa 1850-1860, $2,457; and a “Drs. Peery & / Hamlins /Dead Shot / Vermifuge” small square-shaped medicine bottle, America, circa 1840-1860, in a light to medium pink puce, brought $2,106.

• A free-blown, bulbous-form miniature globular bottle, probably made in New England circa 1783-1830, in a medium yellowish-olive color and standing 3 ¾ inches tall, realized $5,558; while a small, free-blown egg-form utility jar, possibly made by Coventry (Conn.) Glass Works (circa 1783-1830) in a beautiful bright, light yellow-olive, 3 ½ inches in height, sold for $2,340;

• An early and rare “New Eng. Glass Bottle Co.” (Cambridge, Mass.) base-embossed cylindrical rum bottle, circa 1827-1845, in a deep yellow-olive color, 10 ¼ inches tall, garnered $5,850; and a “Fine / Black Ink / Made & Sold – By / J. L. Thompson / Troy N-Y” master ink bottle, America, circa 1840-1860, cylindrical and bright yellow-olive, sold for $4,388;

• Returning to important flasks, a “General Washington” and bust “J. R. / Laird, SC. Pitt” and eagle portrait flask, made circa 1820-1840 at the John Robinson’s Sturbridge Flint Glass Works (Pittsburgh, Pa.), colorless with a lavender tint, soared to $28,080; and a deep peacock-blue miniature scroll flask, America, circa 1845-1860 brought $5,850.

Heckler’s next Internet sale is scheduled for May 12. Already consigned are rare and highly collectible flasks, whiskeys, art glass, medicines, jars, bitters, whimseys, free-blown bottles, two late-19th century ceramic pot lids, as well as bottle and glass from most collectible categories. The firm also holds frequent live auctions (no internet bidding). The next two will be held on May 2 and May 30.

Norman C. Heckler & Company was founded in 1987 as a full-service auction and appraisal firm. Today it is the foremost auction house in the U.S. for antique glass. In Oct. 2010, the firm set a record for an antique glass bottle at auction when a General Jackson eagle portrait flask went for $176,670. In addition to bottles and glass, the firm also offers early American antiques.

Norman C. Heckler & Company is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To inquire about consigning a single piece or an entire collection, call 860.974.1634, e-mail to or visit the Norman C. Heckler & Company website.

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