Dr. Renz's Herb Bitters bottle, circa 1868-1881, brings a record $24,150 at American Bottle Auctions

It was online-only sale #72, Part 1 of the Mel Hammer bottle collection, which ran from Dec. 10-19. Offerings included schnapps and gin bottles, bitters bottles and inkwells, most with 9.5 grades. Online bidding was driven through the ABA website.
By: American Bottle Auctions
 
 
Dr. Renz’s Herb Bitters bottle (San Francisco).
Dr. Renz’s Herb Bitters bottle (San Francisco).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Dec. 28, 2021 - PRLog -- A Dr. Renz's Herb Bitters bottle (San Francisco, circa 1868-1881), 9 ¾ inches tall, with a uniquely styled applied tapered top (one of maybe four known), light lime green in color, sold for $24,150 in the online-only sale #72 of Part 1 of the Mel Hammer bottle collection, which began December 10th and ended December 19th, by American Bottle Auctions.

The Mel Hammer collection is an incredible hoard gathered over a 50-year span by a man who dedicated much of his adult life to the acquisition and study of antique glass. Part 1 featured many of Mr. Hammer's favorites, such as schnapps and gin bottles, bitters bottles and inkwells, many boasting 9.5 grades.

The Dr. Renz's Herb Bitters was easily the top achiever in the 137-bottle auction and the price was a new auction record. A winner at the 1869 California State Fair, the bottle is one of just a handful known with the unique style tapered top. It was undoubtedly the first embossed bottle made for this bitters. All known examples have a green hue, with crudity consistent with the era.

"The bitters stole the show, but there were some very respectful bids in all categories," said Jeff Wichmann, the owner of American Bottle Auctions. "We were amazed at some of the prices of the squares and inkwells.  For instance, out of the sixty or so early squares – including gins, schnapps and sarsaparillas – fifteen did a thousand dollars or more. One gin sold for $10,925."

That was lot #64, a bright medium green Wister's Clubhouse gin bottle having an applied top with the earlier sticky ball type pontil. These bottles are very popular with collectors, as they come in a multitude of colors. In addition, they are typically very crude, with lots of character. This one was no exception. The condition was exceptional, except for small, minor scratches.

Lot #124 – a square, red amber whittled Turner Brothers bottle – was one that Mr. Hammer had purchased in one of Mr. Wichmann's auctions. It boasted an applied top with graphite pontil and showed both Turner Brothers locations (Buffalo, New York and San Francisco). The bottle checked every box: the color, crudity, rarity and condition were all exemplar. It brought $3,910.

Part 2 of the Mel Hammer bottle collection will be held sometime in March 2022 (dates and times to be announced; watch the website for details). To learn more, please visit www.americanbottle.com.

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