Session II (123 lots) will go online Oct. 5 and conclude Oct. 19. Previews will be held by appointment from Sept. 20 to Oct. 18. Session III (122 lots) will go online Jan. 18, 2012 and end Feb. 1, 2012. Previews will be held, by appointment, from Sept. 20, 2011 to Jan. 31, 2012. The very best pieces in the auctions will be in the later sessions, but virtually all bottles are desirable.
Mr. McCandless’s collection is indeed impressive. Over the course of 40 years, he accumulated the very best of flasks, bitters, whiskeys, medicines, milks, sodas, fruit jars, pickles and more. These were kept at his home in Hopewell, N.J., where he lived with his wife, Marion.
“The quality and the breathtaking range of beautiful colors that exist in Tom’s collection are immediately obvious,” said Norman Heckler, Sr., of Norman C. Heckler & Co. “He was one of the first collectors to focus on color diversity. This is accepted by collectors today as perhaps the most important characteristic of an important glass collection, but Tom was one of the first.”
The McCandless collection is hitting the market at a time when antique bottles and glass are particularly hot. “They're on a definite upswing, both in interest and prices realized,” Mr. Heckler remarked. “The demand for flasks and bitters, especially, is insatiable, especially at the high end. The market may be flat for some collectibles, but not so for antique bottles and glass.”
One bottle being offered is expected to bring $20,000-$30,000, and it was one of Mr. McCandless’s personal favorites. It is an Albany Glass Works (N.Y.) Washington portrait flask, made circa 1848-1850. It is an exceptional half-pint flask in every way, with strong embossing and rare and beautiful coloration (light golden yellow with a deeper golden color neck and base).
Fully five bottles carry pre-sale estimates of $10,000-$20,000 each. They are as follows:
An S. C. Brown’s figural herb bitters bottle (Phila., circa 1860-1880), triangular, with beveled corners, strong embossing and bright light to medium lime green coloration.
A Washington bust and sailing frigate portrait flask (Albany Glass Works, N.Y., circa 1848-1850), sapphire blue with applied sloping collared mouth -- an exceptional pint.
A General Taylor bust and monumental portrait flask (“Fells Point/Balto”)
A Washington classical bust portrait flask (Bridgeton Glass Works, N.J. circa 1840-1860), yellow with a topaz tone, very rare, with beautiful color and strong embossing.
A Log Cabin “Hard Cider” historical flask with barrel and plow graphics (Pittsburgh, circa 1820-1840), brilliant light blue-green, a great bottle in mold strength and color.
A pair of bottles are expected to bring $7,500-$15,000. They are a “Fairview / Works” short-haired bust made by the Wheat Price & Company Mfrs. (Wheeling, W. Va., circa 1820-1840), light blue, in fine condition; and a miniature figural bottle in the form of a cannon barrel (R.&G.A. Wright, Phila., circa 1860-1880), plum amethyst color, one of only two known.
One bottle with a fascinating history is a cylindrical applied seal wine bottle (possibly American, circa 1760, est. $3,000-$6,000)
Several bottles boast incredible striations – the series of ridges, furrows or linear marks on a glass or bottle that create a colorful, streaking effect that is highly desirable to many collectors. Three in particular are expected to generate tremendous bidder interest. They are:
An eagle historical flask (probably Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks, Keene, N.H., made circa 1820-1830), with wide profuse amethyst striations (est. $3,000-$6,000)
A Washington-Taylor portrait flask (Dyotville Glass Works, Phila., circa 1840-1860), rare, with unusual ginger ale coloration with apricot striations (est. $5,000-$10,000)
Another Washington-Taylor portrait flask, also made by Dyottville circa 1840-1860, light to medium blue with deep, profuse horizontal striations (est. $5,000-$10,000)
Other intriguing, mid-price-range bottles will include a hearts and flowers scroll-type quart flask (Midwest America, circa 1845-1860), deep pale blue green with a sheared mouth and in great condition (est. $5,000-$10,000);
Rounding out the list of some expected top lots are a black glass-handled wine bottle (England, circa 1680-1730), squat and cylindrical with a heavy applied solid handle and deep yellow olive coloration (est. $1,000-$2,000);
Collectors new to bottles and glass, or collectors on a budget, should not be put off by the high pre-sale estimates assigned to some pieces. The bottles just described represent the best offerings in the catalog – a catalog that comprises around 325 lots. But the fact is, there will be something for just about every budget and every level of collector, from beginner to advanced.
The Session I live auction on Oct. 8 will be part of Norman C. Heckler & Co.’s 12th annual Columbus Day weekend event. From 9-11 a.m., folks will be able to preview the bottles in Session I (which starts at 11 a.m.), then enjoy an old-fashioned tailgate party, an antique bottle and glass swap, previews for important auction Sessions II and III, and a free country cook-out.
Norman C. Heckler & Company was founded in 1987 as a full-service auction and appraisal firm. Today it is the foremost auction house for antique glass. In October 2010, the firm set a record for an antique glass bottle at auction when a General Jackson eagle portrait flask sold for $176,670. In addition to glass Heckler’s also offers early American antique objects.
Norman C. Heckler & Company is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To inquire about consigning a single piece or an entire collection, you may call them at (860) 974-1634; or, you can e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the upcoming sale of the Tom McCandless collection, please log on to www.hecklerauction.com.
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Ken Hall writes pre-sale and post-sale press releases for auction houses, for a fee. He writes, submits and tracks stories for clients. Submissions are published in trade magazines, posted on industry websites and appear in local newspapers.