SACRAMENTO, Calif .– The first part of the Mel Hammer Bottle Collection – an incredible treasure collected over a span of 50 years by a man who devoted much of his adult life to the acquisition and study of antique glass – will be sold at online auction # 72 which begins Friday, December 10 and ends Sunday, December 19 at 8 p.m. PT, by American Bottle Auctions.
The full catalog, featuring all 137 lots, will be released on kickoff day, December 10, on the American Bottle Auctions website (www.americanbottle.com), where people can also register and bid. The offerings will feature Mr Hammer’s favorites, including bottles of schnapps and gin, bottles of bitters and inkwells, many of which are 9.5 degrees. Mr. Hammer died on Thanksgiving Day.
“Mel was a true bottle collector,” said Jeff Wichmann of American Bottle Auctions. “I didn’t know him as well as I would have liked, but I saw him when he came down from his home in Redding to our store in 2019. He had bought one of the finest bottles of auction n ° 69. . No surprise, it was an amber red amber square bottle from the Turner Brothers, as pretty as we had seen it.
This same bottle is lot n ° 124 of the auction. It features an applied top with graphite pontil and shows the two Turner Brothers locations (Buffalo, New York and San Francisco). The bottle has all the attributes that a bottle collector looks for; the color, rawness, rarity and condition are all exemplary. Its only minor flaw – a small flake on the lip – gives it a rating of 9.2. He should make $ 4,000.
All other bottles in this report have a rating of 9.5, starting with Lot # 71: Brown’s Celebrated Indian Herb Figurative Bitters Bottle (patented February 11, 1868) with a rolled rim. Each collection of bottles must contain an Indian queen, and for Mel Hammer, he chose this light amber example. He understood the beauty of oriental-made figurative landmarks like this one (estimate: $ 2,000 to $ 3,000).
The Dr. Renz’s Herb Bitters bottle (San Francisco, ca.1868-1881) with an applied taper top, light lime green, 9 ¾ inches high, is said to be one of only four known, with a uniquely styled taper top . They are all in a green tint and present a rawness consistent with the time. One has never been auctioned. This one will be the first, and it has an estimate of $ 10,000 to $ 15,000.
A bottle of Dr. Wonser’s USA Indian Root Bitters with an applied top, medium amber in color and showing a lot of uneven glass and small pieces, is near perfect and could sell for between $ 10,000 and $ 20,000. Amber and aqua Wonser are among the most sought after and coveted Western bitters. For its distinctive design, unique name and general appeal, Dr. Wonser’s is simply hard to beat.
Lot # 64 is a bottle of Wister’s Clubhouse Bright Medium Green Gin having an applied top with the anterior sticky ball pontil. These bottles are very popular with collectors because they come in a multitude of colors. In addition, they are generally very raw, with a lot of character. This one is no exception. The condition is exceptional except for small scratches (estimate: $ 3000 – $ 5000).
A barrel-shaped bottle of Greeley’s Bourbon Whiskey Bitters with applied lid (G102), 9 ½ inches high, will attract bidders because it is a true purple Greeley’s. Although these casks come in purple or flea tones, they are often very dark and difficult to see through or have a different color, similar to the bitters of bourbon whiskey. This is not the case with this example. It should make around $ 8,000.
Catawba Wine Bitters bottles are huge with collectors. Lot # 119 is a prime specimen, medium green in color, with embossed grapes, applied top and graphite pontil. This one was sold by American Bottle Auctions as part 1 of the Grapentine collection. It has a good overall size and good rawness. It’s the pontiled version, with all the graphite intact, and is expected to fetch $ 3,000 to $ 6,000.
A Pride of Kentucky Old Bourbon (Livingston & Co., Sole Agents) bottle, made in the mid to late 1870s (for whiskey collectors, the first age for Western Flushes) is expected to cost between 2,000 and 3,000 dollars. The lightweight bottle with an applied lid is as cropped as any Western Fifth, and the color, although an old amber, is perfect depth throughout the bottle.
As for inkwells, there are two in the sale that are expected to fetch $ 2,000 to $ 4,000 each. One is an M100 stave barrel type kettle inkwell, in a beautiful amethyst color. There are only a few barrel inks and they are quite rare and highly sought after. This one has a pedigree: it’s said to have been produced for Henry Harrison’s presidential campaign in 1840 – pretty exhilarating stuff.
The other is an umbrella ink with a rolled lip and open pontil, 2 ½ inch and grape colored (the color most collectors are looking for). No umbrella ink collection would be complete without an example of chip or grape color. This inkwell has a medium to darker shade that is easy to see through.
Rounding out a short list of some of the expected auction highlights, an Aromatic Schnaps Shiedam bottle from Udolpho Wolfe with an appliqué top and a smooth base. The appeal here is the color of the bottle: a beautiful apricot. This one is purer apricot than most (estimate: $ 800).
American Bottle Auctions has a 10 minute rule that applies to bids at the end of the auction. Essentially, each bidder has one last chance to make a winning final bid. An online printable color catalog will be available soon, and all lots will be photographed and displayed in images and streaming video. The buyer’s premium will be 15 percent fixed on all purchases.
Everything will be done to present the items as close as possible to the real bottle. Additional photos or videos are available upon request. Potential customers are encouraged to visit the American Bottle Auction showroom, for an in-person preview of all bottles for sale, although an appointment should be made in advance. To make an appointment, call (800) 806-7722.
The second part of the Mel Hammer bottle collection will take place in March 2022 (dates and times to be announced; see website for details). “Things will be roughly split between parts 1 and 2 in terms of value, variations and number of bottles,” Wichmann said.
American Bottle Auctions always accepts quality shipments for future sales. To consign a single bottle or an entire collection, you can call them toll-free at 1-800-806-7722; or, you can email them to [email protected] To learn more about the American Bottle Auctions and Part One of the Mel Hammer Collection (online December 10-19), visit www.americanbottle.com.
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