Three-Mold Inkwells, Back Bar Bottles to Highlight Vintage Bottle Auction

Several rare blown three-mold inkwells, made between 1815-1835, are expected to draw interest in an Internet and catalog auction slated for April 29-May 7 by hosted by American Bottle Auctions.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Hundreds of rare, vintage and highly collectible bottles—to include an amazing offering of blown three-mold inkwells, a great collection of back bar bottles and some excellent Western whiskey bottles and flasks—will change hands in an Internet and catalog auction slated for April 29-May 7 by American Bottle Auctions.

“We’ve assigned robust estimates to the blown three-mold inkwells, because they’re so rare we expect them to do quite well,” said Jeff Wichmann of American Bottle Auctions. “In the back bar bottle category, we have the only perfect example of a Julius Goldbaum known to exist. And the Cutter crown shoulder and Castle whiskey flasks are two extremely desirable bottles.”

It will be just the 52nd auction ever held by American Bottle Auctions which, in its brief history, has become synonymous with vintage bottle collecting. The firm specializes in bottles made from 1850-1900, when superior embossing techniques were used and the examples made were colorful and fascinating slices of America’s past. The hobby has caught fire in recent years.

Julius Goldbaum (for Jule's Bourbon)

National Bitters bottle

Argyle Bitters bottle

Eagle/Masonic JKB pint flask

By far the expected superstar lot of the sale is the Julius Goldbaum back bar bottle, which should realize something between $10,000-$20,000 or more. Goldbaum was a well-known liquor distributor in the Tucson, Ariz., area from 1887-1903, before Arizona had even become a state (in 1912). The bottle, a spin mold fifth Jule’s Bourbon, even says “A.T.”, which stands for “Arizona Territory.”

It is truly an exceptional bottle, having been discovered in the basement of Goldbaum’s home by the person who bought his property in the 1940s. The bottle, in pristine condition, was there among some papers and artifacts. It is quite possibly the finest back bar bottle in existence, boasting an applied top with enamel writing and hand-painted gold design.

The blown three-mold inkwells are also expected to generate tremendous bidder interest. A few notable examples from the category are as follows:

• Geometric inkwell (GII-18c, circa 1815-1835). Graded 9.9 out of 10 for condition, this inkwell was made by Boston & Sandwich Glassworks, in limited numbers. This very inkwell was pictured in “Ink Bottles & Inkwells,” by Covill (est. $4,000-$8,000).
• Geometric inkwell (GIII-4, circa 1815-1835). Also made by Boston & Sandwich Glassworks, this inkwell is pontiled, with a tooled mouth, and stands 2 ¼ inches tall. Graded 9.9, it was previously in the Jim Courtney collection (est. $3,000-$5,000).
• Variant lip inkwell (GIII-20, circa 1815-1835). Yet another example from Boston & Sandwich, this inkwell is one of only two examples known to exist. The unusual waffle sunburst pattern is more commonly seen on a decanter (est. $4,000-$8,000).

A National Bitters bottle (C.C. Jerome & Co., Detroit, 1865), with applied top and smooth base, carries an estimate of $5,000-$10,000. Most variants of this bottle are coffin-shaped, with an amethyst color. Ring-Ham lists this one as N-9 in black amethyst, which is an apt description, and it is triangular in shape, adding to its allure and rarity, with no pontil mark.

A J.H. Cutter Old Bourbon pint flask with crown shoulder (E. Martin & Co., Sole Agents), a top-quality specimen with a 9.8 grading, should bring $4,000-$8,000. Made from 1873-1877, this variant is considered one of the tougher pint flasks to find. It has a fifth that matches the embossing and is a solid example, with a strong strike and handsome amber tone.


Some great Western whiskey bottles and flasks, like these shown, will be sold April 29-May 7.


An Old Bourbon Castle Whiskey western flask (F. Chevalier & Co., Sole Agents, 1875-1880), with double roll collar, a beautiful light to medium amber tone and strong strike, has a pre-sale estimate of $4,000-$8,000. When carefully examined under a loupe, almost no flaws were detected, so it earned a 9.8 grade. This is arguably one of the top Western whiskey flasks.

A rare and unusual Argyle Bitters bottle (E.B. Wheelock, New Orleans), with a smooth base, large crude lettering and later date of manufacture than another bitters of the same name, should hit $3,000-$5,000. The bottle has no writing on the base. The color can best be described as a deep forest green. The top is unusually small. This is quite unlike any other bottle in the sale.

Rounding out some of the auction’s expected top lots are an Eagle/Masonic JKB pint flask (GIV), very early and probably made in New England between 1815-1820, with just the slightest bit of highpoint wear but still graded at 9.7 (est. $4,000-$8,000); and a Liberty/Oak Tree rich amber half-pint flask (GII-60, est. $2,000-$4,000), in near-mint condition and graded 9.9.

American Bottle Auctions was founded in 1990 by Wichmann, a native Californian who has been collecting antique bottles for 40 years. Over time, the firm grew and underwent a name change, but the focus has always remained the same: to specialize in appraising, brokering, consigning and auctioning antique bottles and glass. Bottle collecting is enormously popular.

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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