Only Known Perfect Julius Goldbaum Back Bar Bottle Gavels for $25,200

The top lot of an Internet and catalog sale hosted by American Bottle Auctions was this Julius Goldman back bar bottle for Jule’s Bourbon, which sold for $25,200.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A mint condition spin mold fifth bottle for Jule’s Bourbon, probably made around 1900 and most likely the only known perfect example of a Julius Goldbaum back bar bottle, soared to $25,200 to claim top lot honors in an Internet and catalog sale hosted by American Bottle Auctions that began April 29 and ended May 14.

The bottle sailed past its high estimate of $20,000, which was expected, considering it is quite possibly the finest back bar bottle in existence. Hundreds of other rare, vintage and highly collectible bottles also crossed the block, to include an amazing offering of blown three-mold inkwells, a nice collection of back bar bottles and some rare Western whiskey bottles and flasks.

“All in all, it was a very satisfying auction with great participation,” said Jeff Wichmann of American Bottle Auctions. “The inkwells, a very special and select grouping, did quite well, considering the market. Some categories were up and some were down, but overall the news was more good than bad.” By the time it was over, 248 lots had sold and the auction tallied $239,429 in sales.

The Julius Goldbaum bottle came to auction with quite a history. During the 1940s, a man in Tucson, Ariz., bought an old adobe row-house in an older part of town. While restoring the structure, he discovered a closed-off, abandoned basement. There, he found boxes of papers and artifacts once belonging to Julius Goldbaum, a frontier saloon keeper and local liquor distributor.

Among the scattered piles were several old bottles, including three magnificent back bars. One was broken at the neck, another was just a piece of the lip. But the third was in pristine condition—the bottle offered in this auction. In addition to its near-mint grade of 9.9 out of 10 for overall condition, the bottle boasted an applied top with enamel writing and gold decoration.

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

• A triangular-shaped, extremely dark National Bitters bottle (C.C. Jerome & Company, Detroit, 1865), with extremely crude overall glass and with areas of waviness and uneven texture that made it hard to believe it had no pontil (which it didn’t), went for $12,880. The bottle had been purchased by a soldier in Detroit in the 1940s and had been in his collection ever since.

• A rarely-seen Keach Torpedo Soda bottle (made in Baltimore), apricot puce in color and graded 9.3, mainly for some extremely minor scratches and what appears to have been a professional cleaning, hammered for $8,960. The bottle was extremely crude with lots of whittle, and the fact that another one won’t be seen at auction anytime soon no doubt drove up the price.

• A blown, three-mold geometric inkwell (C-1193, GII-18C, circa 1815-1835), 1 ¾ inches tall and with corset waist and pontil, breezed to $6,720. The inkwell was important enough to have been pictured in Ink Bottles and Inkwells by Covil, and was most likely produced in very limited quantities. Graded a solid 9.9, the inkwell was made by Boston & Sandwich Glassworks.

Fish Bitters bottle

National Bitters bottle

Keach Torpedo Soda bottle

J.H. Cutter Old Bourbon bottle

• A J. H. Cutter western whiskey pint flask (E. Martin & Company, Sole Agents), one of only a dozen or so known and graded 9.8, commanded $5,600. The crown shoulder is what gave this pint flask its desirability, as well as its rarity. Only manufactured between 1873 and 1877, the bottle boasted a strong strike and a handsome amber tone. It was a top specimen of its variety.

• An Old Bourbon Castle Whiskey western flask (F. Chevalier & Company, Sole Agents), circa 1875-1880), graded 9.8 and arguably one of the top western whiskey flasks around, fetched $4,928. The hard-to-find example came to auction with a beautiful light to amber tone and a very strong strike. When carefully examined under a loupe, there was nothing to see but pristine glass.

• An interesting Fish Bitters bottle that had ¼ inch hole drilled into the base because someone at one time decided to use it for a lamp sold for $4,480. Light green in color, the bottle probably would have graded out at around 8.9 without the hole. As is, it became even more desirable because of its history. A tiny bit of roughness on the very drippy lip was its only flaw.

For more information about this auction, call 800-806-7722, e-mail to or visit the American Bottle Auctions web site.


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