McCandless Lifetime Bottle & Flask Collection to Sell in Three-Session Auction

This Albany Glass Works (N.Y.) Washington portrait flask, made circa 1848-50, is expected to bring between $20,000 and $30,000 at the sale of the late Tom McCandless’s lifetime collection. The sale will be held in three sessions and hosted by Norman C. Heckler & Company.

WOODSTOCK, Conn. – The lifetime, single-owner bottle and flask collection of Tom McCandless—a dedicated collector whose recent passing left a void in the bottle and glass collecting field—will be sold in three sessions by Norman C. Heckler & Company. Over the course of 40 years, McCandless amassed an impressive collection that includes the very best of flasks, bitters, whiskeys, medicines, milks, sodas, fruit jars, pickles and more.

“The quality and the breathtaking range of beautiful colors that exist in Tom’s collection are immediately obvious,” said Norman Heckler, Sr., of Norman C. Heckler & Co. “He was one of the first collectors to focus on color diversity. This is accepted by collectors today as perhaps the most important characteristic of an important glass collection, but Tom was one of the first.”

The collection will be sold in three sessions, with the first (83 lots) to go online on Wednesday, Sept. 28 and conclude with a live auction on Saturday, Oct. 8. Session II (123 lots) will go online Oct. 5 and conclude Oct. 19. Previews will be held by appointment from Sept. 20 to Oct. 18. Session III (122 lots) will go online Jan. 18, 2012 and end Feb. 1, 2012. Previews will be held, by appointment, from Sept. 20, 2011 to Jan. 31, 2012. The very best pieces in the auctions will be in the later sessions, but virtually all bottles are desirable.

The McCandless collection is hitting the market at a time when antique bottles and glass are particularly hot. “They’re on a definite upswing, both in interest and prices realized,” Heckler said. “The demand for flasks and bitters, especially, is insatiable, especially at the high end. The market may be flat for some collectibles, but not so for antique bottles and glass.”

One bottle being offered—an Albany Glass Works (N.Y.) Washington portrait flask, made circa 1848-50—is expected to bring between $20,000 and $30,000. One of McCandless’s personal favorites, the bottle is an exceptional half-pint flask with strong embossing and rare and beautiful coloration (light golden yellow with a deeper golden color neck and base).

Five bottles carry pre-sale estimates of $10,000-$20,000 each. They are as follows:

• An S. C. Brown’s figural herb bitters bottle (Phila., circa 1860-80), triangular, with beveled corners, strong embossing and bright light to medium lime green coloration.
• A Washington bust and sailing frigate portrait flask (Albany Glass Works, N.Y., circa 1848-50), sapphire blue with applied sloping collared mouth—an exceptional pint.
• A General Taylor bust and monumental portrait flask (“Fells Point/Balto”), made circa 1830-50 by Baltimore Glass Works, puce with gray overtone, extremely rare.
• A Washington classical bust portrait flask (Bridgeton Glass Works, N.J. circa 1840-60), yellow with a topaz tone, very rare, with beautiful color and strong embossing.
• A Log Cabin “Hard Cider” historical flask with barrel and plow graphics (Pittsburgh, circa 1820-40), brilliant light blue-green, a great bottle in mold strength and color.

This General Taylor bust and monument portrait flask, “Fells Point / Balto,” circa 1830-50, is expected to bring between $10,000 and $20,000.

This S C Brown’s herb bitters bottle, with a star for the “S,” American-made, circa 1860-80 is another bottle valued in the $10,000-$20,000 range.

A pair of bottles are expected to bring $7,500-$15,000. They are a “Fairview / Works” short-haired bust made by the Wheat Price & Company Mfrs. (Wheeling, W. Va., circa 1820-40), light blue, in fine condition; and a miniature figural bottle in the form of a cannon barrel (R.&G.A. Wright, Phila., circa 1860-80), plum amethyst color, one of only two known.

One bottle with a fascinating history is a cylindrical, applied-seal wine bottle (possibly American, circa 1760, est. $3,000-$6,000). It is marked “PS”—for Peter Stuyvesant, to whom it belonged. He was the great grandson of the last Dutch colonial governor of New Amsterdam. The bottle was dug up from seven feet below the surface of the Stuyvesant Estate in New Jersey.

Several bottles boast incredible striations—the series of ridges, furrows or linear marks on a glass or bottle that create a colorful, streaking effect that is highly desirable to many collectors. Three in particular are expected to generate tremendous bidder interest. They are:

• An eagle historical flask (probably Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks, Keene, N.H., made circa 1820-30), with wide profuse amethyst striations (est. $3,000-$6,000).
• A Washington-Taylor portrait flask (Dyotville Glass Works, Phila., circa 1840-60), rare, with unusual ginger ale coloration with apricot striations (est. $5,000-$10,000).
• Another Washington-Taylor portrait flask, also made by Dyottville circa 1840-60, light to medium blue with deep, profuse horizontal striations (est. $5,000-$10,000).

This hard cider log cabin historical flask with flag, barrel and plow, early Pittsburgh, ca. 1820-40, is the another in the same price range.

This Washington classical bust portrait flask, Bridgeton Glass Works (N.J.), circa 1840-60 is also expected to bring between $10,000 and $20,000.

Other intriguing, mid-price-range bottles will include a hearts and flowers scroll-type quart flask (Midwest America, circa 1845-60), deep pale blue green with a sheared mouth and in great condition (est. $5,000-$10,000); and a diamond daisy pattern molded pocket bottle, made circa 1760-74 by Stiegel’s American Flint Glass Manufactory (Pa., est. $3,500-$7,500)

Rounding out the list of some expected top-lots are a black, glass-handled wine bottle (England, circa 1680-1730), squat and cylindrical with a heavy applied solid handle and deep yellow olive coloration (est. $1,000-$2,000); and an American fancy pickle jar (ca. 1845-60), square with beveled corners and fancy cathedral arches on all four sides (est. $2,000-$4,000).

Collectors new to bottles and glass, or collectors on a budget, should not be put off by the high pre-sale estimates assigned to some pieces, said Heckler, who added that the bottles described represent the best offerings in the catalog—a catalog that comprises around 325 lots. But the fact is, there will be something for just about every budget and every level of collector, from beginner to advanced.

The Session I live auction on Oct. 8 will be part of Norman C. Heckler & Co.’s 12th annual Columbus Day weekend event. From 9-11 a.m., folks will be able to preview the bottles in Session I (which starts at 11 a.m.), then enjoy an old-fashioned tailgate party, an antique bottle and glass swap, previews for important auction Sessions II and III, and a free country cook-out.

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

For more information about these auctions, call 860.974.1634, e-mail to or visit the Norman C. Heckler & Company website.


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