Sacramento, California - Collectors of vintage bottles, mostly from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire rare and desirable Nevada bottles at the annual auction of the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors, on Saturday, August 6th, at the Lion’s Gate Hotel in Sacramento and hosted by Holabird Western Americana of Reno, Nevada.
The auction event will be part of ‘49er Bottle Jamboree and will coincide with the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors’ 2016 National Antique Bottle & Expo being held at the same venue.
“Nevada bottles in general are not only gorgeous and colorful collectibles, they are slices of state history,” said Fred Holabird, President of Holabird Western Americana and the author of a two-volume series: Nevada History Through Glass (2012) and Ghost Towns & Medicines (Sierra Nevada Press, 2016). “The stories of the Nevada pioneers who became druggists or apothecaries cross the lines of science. Many of them were miners, and their stories reflect Nevada mining history.” Ghost Towns & Medicines will be available for purchase at the Sacramento show and auction (480 pages in color, $39.95).
Mr. Holabird said he approached the writing of the two books like he would a science project. “We used comparative analogy of glass bottle construction and style, coupled with data from the historical record to date the bottles and their specific variants,” Holabird said. “The people and businesses that made up the drug store industry in Nevada since 1859 were dissected in scientific fashion to bring them to life in story form. These very stories will be offered at the auction.”
“Western bottles from Nevada give collectors a peek into the journey that medicines took as they made their way to the Wild West,” said Bernd Schwalbe, who’s been a practicing pharmacist in Nevada for 36 years. “Many problems were encountered, both with supply and manufacturing, as pharmacies and the medicine bottles sold there came to the rough and tough mining towns in Nevada and the other Western states. As a result, many of these beautiful bottles are quite rare.”
Eugene Hattori, a historical archaeologist for the Nevada State Museum, echoed Mr. Schwalbe’s words. “Bottles are a gateway into Nevada history,” Hattori said. “I’ve enlisted Fred Holabird on numerous occasions to help in identifying many embossed bottle fragments recovered from our excavations. Together, we’ve been able to place specific bottles within the who, what, where and when of Nevada’s past. Now, collectors will be able to bid on and own these historic treasures.”
Bob Ferraro, a past Chairman of the Federation of Historic Bottle Collectors and author of two books (The Past in Glass and A Bottle Collector’s Book) said he got started in bottle collecting “more than 50 years ago, when my mother gave me her purple bottles and began my passion for collecting.” He added, “I was particularly fascinated by Nevada pharmacy or drug store bottles, from the time of statehood until around 1920.Examples from this period will be in the auction.”
In all, more than 250 items comprising 193 lots will come up for bid at the auction, most of them from the Western United States. These will include 60 whiskeys (featuring the two expected top lots in the sale and six from Nevada), 50 sodas (to include many rarities, 20 of them from Nevada), 45 medicines (featuring rare colored examples and some fantastic Owl bottles), five bitters (one from Nevada), beers (17 from Nevada) and ten miscellaneous bottles (to include a cobalt blue grenade and inks). From eastern California will come rare bottles from Truckee, Bodie and Castalian Springs in Inyo County.
Hours of the auction will be 7:00 to 10:30 pm Pacific Coast time, with previews Friday and Saturday, Aug. 5-6, from10 am to 5 pm. For those unable to attend in person, internet bidding will be available through the platforms iCollector.com, Invaluable.com (with AuctionZip.com and eBayLive.com) and AuctionMobility.com. Telephone and absentee bids will also be taken.