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Rare Early Blown-Glass Masonic/Eagle Flask Leads American Bottle Auctions

by WorthPoint Staff (05/22/12).

The top lot of an Internet and catalog sale held April 27-May 6 by American Bottle Auctions was this early blown glass Masonic/eagle flask, circa 1822-40, which fetched $17,360.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – An extremely rare Justus Perry early blown-glass Masonic/eagle flask, made circa 1822-1840 by the Keene-Marlboro Street Glass Works and desired by collectors for its fabulous blue and purple coloration, sold for $17,360 in an Internet and catalog sale held April 27-May 6 by American Bottle Auctions.

“Every once in a while an ultra-rare bottle passes our way, and this time it was all the way from England, when I was contacted by a pottery collector in Manchester,” said Jeff Wichmann of American Bottle Auctions about the flask. “If we had offered the same bottle in its usual aqua, it probably would have fetched $500. A chip to the lip kept this one from bringing even more.”

The flask was the top lot in an auction that saw 195 bottles—most of them made between 1850 and 1900, the period most coveted by collectors, when superior embossing techniques were employed—change hands. The average bottle price w $1,500 and the auction grossed just under $300,000. “In all it was a great sale,” Wichmann said. “All categories fetched nice high dollars.”

Those categories included rare “territory” sodas (from when states were still territories), bitters, western whiskeys, medicines, gins, early flasks, historical flasks and early blown glass.

“The territory bottles did especially well, but like I said, the news was good for all categories,” Wichmann added. “We were fortunate to get in some rare and desirable pieces for this auction.”

A little more than 1,000 total bids were placed online for the 195 lots, by 233 registered online bidders, who accounted for an 86-percent sell-through rate. The rest came from phone and absentee bidders.

“Some bottle auctions feature one or two major pieces that get all the attention, plus some sub-par bottles,” Wichmann said. “Not this auction. Just about everything got fought over.”

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

The second top lot in the sale wasn’t a bottle at all. It was a target ball, the Victorian-era, Christmas ornament-like glass balls that were stuffed with feathers and sawdust and catapulted from spring-loaded traps, to be hit by shooters. This ball, a great purple example made by the Johnston Great Western Gun Works of Pittsburgh, with heavy bottom and strong embossing, hit $12,880.

The second-highest-selling item of the auction wasn't a bottle at all, but a purple Johnston target ball ($12,880).

The sale had two W & Company pineapple bitters bottles. This one had an open pontil ($6,160).

An 1850s Wynkoop & Company Tonic Mixture (N.Y.) bottle, never opened and with a partial label reading “Wynkoop’s Fever and Ague Exterminator,” blue, very crude and with a nasty tubular pontil, realized $8,400; and an Old Pioneer whiskey bottle in a beautiful yellow amber color, graded a perfect 10 out of 10 for condition and with loads of whittle, made $6,720.

The auction featured two pineapple bitters—one applied top with graphite pontil, the other with an unusual open pontil. The latter proved to be the more popular draw, in part due to its richer green coloration and its near-perfect 9.8 grading. It fetched $6,160. The other, a slight variance of its cousin and lighter in color, but still gorgeous with a 9.7 grade, realized $4,704.

A London Jockey Clubhouse Gin bottle with embossed horse and rider, purchased by the consignor at an antiques shop in Quebec, Canada about 40 years ago for $50, amber in color and graded highly at 9.9, rose to $5,600; and a Lacor’s Bitters Sarsapariphere bottle that underwent a little cleaning to bring out its beautiful amber coloration, graded 9.8, changed hands for $3,584.

Two bottles scored identical winning bids of $3,360. One was an early (circa 1822-1840) “Success to the Railroad” railroad bottle in a gorgeous teal color, extremely crude and with loads of bubbles, graded 9.9. The other was a Pacific Congress Water Springs (Saratoga, Calif.) pastel green bottle, a western jumping deer style pint highly sought after by collectors, graded at 9.7.

This Wynkoop & Company Tonic Mixture and “Fever and Ague Exterminator,” circa 1850s, sold for $8,400.

This Old Pioneer Whiskey bottle, colored a beautiful yellow amber and graded a perfect 10, brought $6,720.

This London Jockey Clubhouse Gin bottle with embossed horse and rider in an amber color gaveled for $5,600.

Another pair of lots also reached identical prices—of $2,912. The first was an original box of 12 mint-condition bottles of University of Free Medicine “Family Anti-Bilious” pills, all with the original labels, wrappers and contents. The second was a National Bitters bottle in a bright yellow color (with just a hint of green), having an applied top and graded highly at 9.9.

Rounding out the sale’s top lots: another London Jockey Clubhouse Gin bottle with embossed horse and rider, this one with a graphite pontil and colored a rich 7-Up green, with nice bubbles and good character, breezed to $3,136; and a blue Mr. Sacramento bottle (with Union Glass Works, Philadelphia on the reverse), graded 9.5 with all graphite intact, hit $2,688.

American Bottle Auctions is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign a single bottle or an entire collection, call 800.806.7722, e-mail to at info@americanbottle.com or visit the American Bottle Auctions website.

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