What’s the Attraction for You at National Federation Shows?
Updated 04 January 2017
By Bill Baab
Why are you here? That’s an easy question, but the answer may not be. You might be here because of a chance to buy quality bottles for your collection. Or you might be here to visit with friends. Or it may be a combination of both answers, with a few personal reasons thrown in. Whatever the reason, the facts remain that you are happy to be here, and you plan to make the most of it.
Before 1976 when the Federation of Historical Bottle Clubs (as it was then known) held its first national show in St. Louis, antique bottle shows were strictly local or regional, attended mostly by collectors and members of the curious public who resided within those locales. The National Antique Bottle-Jar Exposition held Aug. 14-15, 1976 during our nation’s Bicentennial celebration changed all of that, especially from a collector’s perspective.
“I wasn’t exactly a stranger at bottle shows when the St. Louis show was scheduled, but I’d never traveled so far,” said FOHBC member Tom Hicks of Eatonton, Ga. “LeRoy Smith (a collector from Union Point, Ga.) and I got so excited because the show was going to be s-o-o-o big. We got to calculating just how many minutes we could spend at each table so we could see everything.” Hicks has attended every national federation show since except Nashville, Tenn. “We had our van all packed and pointed out at the road, ready to go to Nashville, when I came down with a case of kidney stones. I later told my wife, Mabel, that missing that show was worse than the stones and ranked right up there with the other major disappointment of my life — not seeing Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams play an exhibition game in Montgomery, Alabama.” Presumably Hicks and his friend found the time to visit all 280 sales tables in St. Louis.
Let’s go back in time and check out all the shows leading up to this one. It’s made possible thanks to pages of past issues of Old Bottle Magazine, Bottle News, Antique Bottle World, Antique Bottle & Glass Collector and BOTTLES and EXTRAS.
The 1976 National Antique Bottle & Jar Exposition – St. Louis, Missouri
There is no doubt this show set the standards for those to follow. There were 140 outstanding displays of bottles and fruit jars, many of which had never been in the public view; 280 sales tables, and 4,000 collectors. Hal Wagner was chairman and Jerry Jones co-chairman of the event. The program featured articles by some of the legends of the hobby, including Helen McKearin, Alice Creswick, George Herron, William E. Covill Jr., Dr. Cecil Munsey, Dick Roller, John Wolf and Paul Ballentine. Ken and Shirley Asher, Old Bottle Magazine publishers, devoted 17 pages to photos of the displays, unfortunately, all in black and white, because color was expensive to print back in those days. There was a surprise awaiting visitors – a commemorative Expo bottle in the shape of a scroll flask with the federation’s distinctive eagle on one side and crossed flags on the other. How many of these bottles sold during the Expo still exist?
The 1980 National Antique Bottle & Jar Exposition – Rosemont, Illinois
The St. Louis extravaganza was a tough act to follow, but show chairman Ken Sosnowski and co-chairman Jim Hall did their darndest and, in the opinions of those who were there, succeeded. There were 330 sales tables and 70 displays, the latter including a Hutchinson bottling display by Bob Harms and Sean Mullikin. Demonstrations on how Hutchinson bottles were actually filled were held every two hours. The 96-page program included articles by Betty Zumwalt, Bob Ferraro and Clevenger Glass Works’ Jim Travis, among others. Souvenirs included a commemorative paperweight to display owners, a miniature stoneware jug to those attending the banquet and suitably inscribed log cabin bottles in cobalt and amethyst made at the Clevenger factory and sold for $20 apiece.
1984 Antique Bottle, Jar & Insulator Exposition – Montgomery, Alabama
After the two previous shows were held in the Midwest, the Sunny South finally got a chance to shine and highlighted insulators on the cover of its 78-page program. Chairman James Robbins called the show “my dream come true.” Feature articles were written by Bernie Puckhaber (Saratogas), Dick Bowman (Insulators) and Dennis Smith (Pioneer Glass Works), among others. The latter also found time to put together an outstanding exhibit on Celery Cola (on which he is still THE authority). There were 32 exhibitors and 204 dealers listed in the program. There also was a heat wave as one might expect in the Deep South during the August show dates so visitors and hosts alike built up lots of sweat equity. One specially made quilt was raffled (and brought $3,400) and the other was auctioned (for $1,600). Profits from the two plus auction of a one-of-a-kind Federation bottle ($325) were donated to the Verbeck House/National Bottle Museum in Ballston Spa, N.Y.
1988 Antique Bottle & Jar Exposition – Las Vegas, Nevada
Show chairman Lou Pellegrini and his crew of volunteers “hit the jackpot,” according to comments from many of those who attended the Federation’s fourth Expo. There were 285 dealers set up on 365 tables and there were 53 displays. Show-goers likened the atmosphere as comparable to that of the St. Louis Expo and, while there were a few glitches, bulk of the comments was positive. Bob Harms had his traveling Hutchinson bottling machine there, while other displays ranged from Alex Kerr’s target balls and go-withs to a display of historical flasks. There was something to please just about everyone. There was no mention of Expo souvenirs.
1991 Bottle & Advertising Show – Memphis, Tennessee
Display of a pair of $40,000 bottles owned by Frank Brockman was one of the highlights of the show at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. One was the Northbend-Tippecanoe Cabin and the other the sapphire blue Columbia-Eagle Flask. “He brought them in from California at my request and we used them in our pre-show publicity,” said show chairman Gene Bradberry. “I borrowed the artwork for the full-color, slick paper flyer from Norm Heckler and used it with his permission. We had 200 sales tables and (Atlanta collector) Bob Simmons handled some great displays. Heckler, Jim Hagenbuch and Dick and Elma Watson were among well-known collectors in attendance.” Bradberry’s idea at the time was to create a national show every year. “There were still those who wanted an Expo every four years so we compromised and had the national shows every year between the Expos.”
1992 Antique Bottle & Jar Exposition – Toledo, Ohio
Show chairman Adam Koch and his Ohio Bottle Club volunteers had to get used to hearing exclamations of “Holy Toledo!” from excited visitors at the show at the Seagate Centre. Bulk of the comments from show-goers was highly positive. The program was the thickest ever, 110 pages counting the covers, with features by Ralph Finch, Bill Agee and Stanley and Isabel Sherwood. There were a bunch of specialty group meetings taking place, too – the Jelly Jammers and those who liked fruit jars, Saratoga Waters, painted label sodas, poisons, whimsies, glass knives, milk bottles and infant feeders. There was a chance for early buyers to get into the show in advance of the rest of the crowd and this did not sit well with many. But as one dealer among those manning a record 550 sales tables put it: “those people were there to buy and they did.” There were 60 displays, all outstanding.
1993 National Advertising & Bottle Show – Richmond, Virginia
Somewhere in the Federation board of directors records, there is mention of someone who probably was suffering from bottle show withdrawal pains suggesting that instead of waiting another four years for an Expo to roll around, why not hold annual national shows. This Virginia show was the first of many and it was a good one. “The show was great and went off without a hitch,” said Federation Chairman Gene Bradberry. There were 17 displays, including a genuine wagon showing off hundreds of medicine bottles and go-withs. Post-show stories never gave a dealer count, but comments given to reporter Ralph Finch were mostly on the positive side.
The 25th Anniversary National Bottle & Advertising Show & National Convention Cherry Hill, New Jersey – June 22-26, 1994
The Federation was “born” in 1968 so the Silver Anniversary show was a special one, thanks to Dick and Elma Watson of New Jersey and Jerry McCann of Chicago. The Watsons had come up with the idea of a bus trip to Wheaton Village in Millville, N.J., and McCann got the ball (and the bus) rolling, according to a post-show article. The Federation rented the bus for $500 and each one who made the trip paid $10 that included the trip, admission to the museum and a box lunch. The next day, the Watsons arranged for a Wheaton glassblowing display to set up in the hotel parking lot. Collectors from Canada, England, Scotland, Germany, Grenada and the United States came to the show. Some of the visitors made it to the Watsons’ “bottle house.” Jon Panek of Deerfield, Ill., said his visit there “was like dying and going to heaven!” A special pontiled olive green commemorative flask embossed with the familiar Federation eagle, F.O.H.B.C., and 1969-1994 was available at the show.
1995 National Bottle Show – Chicago, Illinois
Dealers set up on 210 tables and there were 11 outstanding displays. Many visitors were able to take a Friday night cruise on the Chicago River and out onto Lake Michigan. Jon Panek of Deerfield, Jerry McCann of Chicago and Barb and Bob Harms of Riverdale, Ill., came up with lots of neat extras not normally found at such shows. At previous shows, visitors lamented that two days were just too short. The complaints at this one were that the show was too long. Perhaps the 90-degree heat had something to do with that. One of the most unusual items sold during Jim Hagenbuch’s Glassworks Auction was a salt-glazed jug imprinted with Lancaster Tonic Bitters / C.A. Wood & Co. / 37 Haverhill St. / Boston. It sold for $400. Hagenbuch’s 3-day-old van was stolen, and that was bad enough, but happily there were no bottles inside.
1996 National Antique Bottle Exposition – Nashville, Tennessee
“Music City, USA,” attracted 665 sales tables staffed by 461 dealers and many of those in attendance came in a vacation mode. There were 45 displays. Bitters maven Carlyn Ring was named to the Federation Hall of Fame. Many visitors, among them non-smokers, enjoyed a trip to the Museum of Tobacco Art & History. Show chairman Claude Bellar and his staff of volunteers were lauded for their efforts. Norm Heckler conducted the auction and among noteworthy items were an 1820-30 Concentric Ring Flask that netted $20,000 and a cobalt Columbia Eagle Portrait Flask that garnered $21,000. There were no awards given for the displays, but each entrant received a commemorative bottle of Jack Daniel’s best stuff. Ken Anderson’s trailer, which held all of his Indian cures, go-withs and the great medicine wagon he displayed them in, escaped being damaged when the trailer broke loose from the hitch and wound up in a ditch. “It must have been Indian magic,” commented one observer.
1997 National Antique Bottle Show – Jacksonville, Florida
The show was smaller than usual, with 120 dealers manning 160 tables, but enthusiasm was high for the first show held in the South since the 1993 affair in Richmond, Va. Dick Watson and Doc Ford were inducted into the FOHBC Hall of Fame. Carl Sturm celebrated his birthday and a slice of key lime pie with one candle was delivered to him. There were several outstanding displays, ranging from Wayne Boynton’s Celery-Cola display to Ron Rasnake’s pictorial case gins to Joe Brock’s Jacksonville’s Past in Glass, among others. Another highlight was a dinner cruise up the St. Johns River.
1998 National Antique Bottle Show – Cincinnati, Ohio
Burton Spiller gave a nostalgic talk about the early days of bottle collecting as he remembered them and that was one of the highlights at the Cincinnati Convention Center. Another event was more personal for Spiller, who was inducted into the FOHBC Hall of Fame. Fifteen terrific displays attracted lots of attention. There were 160 dealers’ tables and at one of them, a dealer was going to put out some Beanie Babies. But show chairman Adam Koch was adamant that Beanie Babies had no place at an antique bottle show and sale. Good for him!
1999 National Antique Bottle Show – Cincinnati, Ohio
No one made a bid to play host to this year’s show, so Adam Koch & Co., agreed to do a 2-peat. Howard Dean, longtime collector of Saratoga Springs bottles and author of many stories relating to the bottle hobby, was elected to the FOHBC Hall of Fame during this meeting. Kevin Sives, an FOHBC member and early user of the Internet, gave a user-friendly talk about using that medium to one’s advantage. There were two programs on inks and labeled inks by Keith Leeders and John Hinkle, respectively.
2000 National Antique Bottle Exposition – Denver, Colorado
Dave Cheadle succeeded Dave Hinson as editor of BOTTLES and EXTRAS and found time to give an educational talk on trade cards and bottles, one of the Rocky Mountain highs during the show. Sheryl Anderson was show chairman and did a remarkable job. There were new books galore from Pike’s Peak Gold by John Eatwell and David Clint III, Antique Glass Bottles by Willy Van den Bossche of Holland, and Bitters Bottles by Bill Ham and Carlyn Ring. Seven countries and 33 states were represented at the event and the federation picked up 60 new members, according to post-show reports. It was noted that the first FOHBC convention was held in Denver back in 1969, presided over by John Eatwell.
2001 National Antique Bottle Show & Sale – Muncie, Indiana
Thirteen exhibits featuring fruit jars, water bottles, poisons and show globes, among others, and 140 sales tables highlighted the show in “Fruit Jar Country, USA.” Future federation president Ralph Van Brocklin gave a slide presentation on Western Whiskey Flasks. The show was chaired by Norman Barnett, with lots of help from his wife, Junne. The Federation made a nice profit via an auction conducted by Norm Heckler with lots ranging from inks to barber bottles. Collectors came from California, Colorado and Georgia. The Minnestrista Cultural Center housed a collection of patent models of fruit jars plus other exhibits relating to Muncie history and the Ball Brothers Fruit Jar Co. Visitors literally had a ball!
2002 National Antique Bottle Show & Sale – Syracuse, New York
The 72-page program featured 16 pages of “Pride of New York” bottles in full color and is definitely a coveted collector’s item. Ralph Van Brocklin, who was elected FOHBC president, gave a seminar on Western Flasks, and George Waddy, a featured columnist in Antique Bottle & Glass Collector, gave one on Saratoga Bottles. There was more on Saratogas inside the program written by authority Howard Dean, while Kevin A. Sives wrote about New York glass houses of the 17th through 19th centuries. Elma Watson, John Eatwell and Mayor Bob Ferraro were inducted into the FOHBC Hall of Fame. Phyllis and Adam Koch wrote a touching tribute to Elma Watson in the September BOTTLES and EXTRAS. Mrs. Watson died of cancer on Aug. 26, 2002. There were 252 sales tables and 29 exhibits and the show’s auction conducted by Norm Heckler grossed $25,000.
2003 National Antique Bottle Show & Sale – Louisville, Kentucky
More than 200 tables awaited early buyers at this show co-hosted by Wayne and June Lowry of Raymore, Mo., after two years of planning. Longtime collectors Norm and Junne Barnett were inducted into the Federation Hall of Fame. They set up their famous collection of unusual fruit jar closures as one of 16 educational exhibits. Orville Seales of North Jackson, Ohio displayed more than 100 Louisville mini jugs (mostly from the Bauer Pottery of Paducah). Norm Heckler called the auction which grossed more than $30,000.
2004 National Antique Bottle Exposition – Memphis, Tennessee
Ralph Van Brocklin closed out his last term as FOHBC president with the triumph that was this Expo. Chaired by his friend and longtime federation member Gene Bradberry in the latter’s home town, the show featured 371 sales tables and 23 displays. Seminars included such topics as baby bottles, locating sites and digging them, black glass dating, fruit jars and bitters. Twelve authors got a chance to sign and sell their books. Jimmie Wood of Denver, N.C., was awarded the FOHBC People’s Choice ribbon for his stunning display of applied color label sodas from North and South Carolina. There also was a forum describing the trials and tribulations of becoming a book author, with Jack Sullivan, Dewey Heetderks, Jerry McCann, John Eatwell and Bill Ham chiming in.
2005 National Antique Bottle Show – Grand Rapids, Michigan
Thirty-one outstanding displays awaited visitors’ attention at the show where chairman John Pastor and his crew of volunteers did a marvelous job. Seminars were plentiful and first class, with Red Book author Doug Leybourne discoursing on fruit jar closures, Carl Sturm speaking about identification and dating of black glass bottles, Dann Louis talking about cures, Dan Simons on Michigan bottles, Wayne (Jar Doctor) Lowry about cleaning old bottles, Dr. Darell Erickson on infant feeders, Rick Cirali about Connecticut glass and Mark Vuono on historical flasks. Norm Heckler again loaned his auctioneering talents to the Federation. One of the outstanding bottles sold was a green Drake’s Plantation Bitters for $10,500.
2006 National Antique Bottle Show – Reno, Nevada
This was the first national show held in a Western state since the 2000 Expo in Denver, Colorado, and it was a roaring success, thanks to the efforts of FOHBC conventions director Wayne Lowry, show chairman Marty Hall and Reno-Sparks club members. There were 287 in line for early admission and 315 more for general admission, making for standing room only around the 266 sales tables. A significant piece of federation business was the approval to publish BOTTLES and EXTRAS bi-monthly instead of quarterly. California collector Richard Siri was the keynote speaker and his discourse on Hostetter’s Bitters was complemented by his 190 variants of those well-known bottles. The displays drew this rave from Ralph Van Brocklin: “Hands down, THE BEST group of displays I have ever seen at a show!” Wonderful seminar topics ranging from target balls to historical bottle research were highlights of the meeting. BOTTLES and EXTRAS editor Kathy Hopson-Sathe gave the show coverage more than17 pages of the Fall issue and Van Brocklin did a masterful job of describing what went on.
2007 National Antique Bottle Show – Collinsville, Illinois
“Back To Where It All Began” was the theme at Collinsville’s Gateway Center, pointing to the inaugural national show held in 1976 across the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri. Special pins were presented to “Long Timers” who attended both shows. Wayne (Jar Doctor) Lowry was show chairman, with assists from Curt and Ellen Faulkenberry, Jim and Debbie Taylor and Pat Jett. Wayne’s wife, June, business manager for the federation, was stunned to receive the President’s Award from Carl Sturm. Seminars ranged from “Something for Everyone” by Jelly Jammer members Phyllis Pahlman and Margaret Shaw to “Chero-Cola – There’s None So Good” by Dennis Smith to “Using the Internet to Collect Bottles” by John “Digger” Odell to “Ink Symposium” by Keith Leeders, John Hinkel, Ed and Lucy Faulkner, Frank Starczek and Don Carroll. Longtime collectors and federation members Gene Bradberry and Ed Provine did a show and tell session on early glass-blowing methods and tools of that trade. Other highlights included 19 outstanding displays. Greg Hawley, one of a group of treasure hunters who found and excavated the Steamboat Arabia, was the banquet speaker.
2008 National Antique Bottle Exposition – York, Pennsylvania
Collectors from across the country and around the world (Australia, Germany, United Kingdom) made the trek to the ninth Federation Expo where they enjoyed seeing 32 terrific displays ranging from fruit jars to California perfumes. They also attended outstanding seminars on Saratoga waters, black glass, inks, the Lancaster, N.Y. Glass Works and the Kola Wars. Convention Director R. Wayne Lowry reported 415 sales tables had been sold. Perhaps the show’s only negative aspect came at the banquet where featured foods were in short supply and some of the 246 guests had to accept substitutes. The FOHBC Hall of Fame grew by four new inductees in Tom Caniff, Jim Hagenbuch, Carl Sturm and Betty Zumwalt. Steve Ketcham and the late Katie Foglesong were inducted onto the Honor Roll. Norm Heckler once again was the auctioneer for the Expo event, with an early, olive-green Wryghte’s Bitters / London the top lot with a $3,900 bid. Russ Smith of the United Kingdom and Rex and Joanna Barber of Australia penned views of the Expo from their perspectives in the November-December BOTTLES and EXTRAS. Former FOHBC president John Pastor resigned as Midwest Region director and Jamie Houdeshell was named to take over the post. Mr. Pastor accepted the position of second vice president and remains on the board of directors. June Lowry became editor of BOTTLES and EXTRAS after Kathy Hopson-Sathe was forced to step down because of illness.
2009 National Antique Bottle Show – Pomona, California
Highlight of this show, host of which was the Los Angeles Historical Bottle Club, was the awards banquet during which many collectors received their just dues. It was the first Federation National Show to be held on the West Coast and was ably chaired by Pam Selenak. Onlookers included collectors and dealers from Australia and England, as well as from 18 states. Outstanding exhibits included Richard Tucker’s historical flasks (winning the People’s Choice ribbon) and Terry Monteith’s well-displayed collection of demijohns and carboys captured the FOHBC Most Educational ribbon. Alan DeMaison received the President’s Award for his outstanding contributions as Federation treasurer from Richard Siri. The FOHBC Hall of Fame gained another member in Johnnie Fletcher of the Oklahoma Territory Bottle & Relic Club. Johnnie was originally nominated by his friend, Ed Stewart, of Paola, Kansas, for inclusion on the FOHBC Honor Roll, but Johnnie’s dedication and contributions to the hobby led board members to vote him into the main shrine. Midwest Region Editor Joe Coulson’s Glass Chatter of the Midwest Antique Fruit Jar & Bottle Club was a first-class winner in the newsletter category. The Ohio Swirl, edited by Phyllis Koch of The Ohio Bottle Club, was second. Huron Valley Antique Bottle Club’s show flyer was first and the Antique Bottle Club of San Diego placed second. Jack Sullivan, of Alexandria, Va., won for the best researched article for “The Night the Axe Fell on Cleveland.” Dave Maryo, the host club’s president, was second with his article, “Forsha’s Balm is Endorsed by President Lincoln.” Mike Bryant won the best true story award for “The Snake in the Glass” and best fiction for “Ask Aunt Blabby.”
2010 National Antique Bottle Show – Wilmington, Ohio
Best thing about this show, those who attended would agree, was the Roberts Centre showroom with its well-lighted, wide aisles, offering plenty of room for 297 sales tables, 20 wonderful displays and hordes of people. Show chairman Jamie Houdeshell became ill a few days before the show, but co-chairman Joe Hardin and chief coordinator Patty Elwood stepped up. They were assisted by Jamie’s parents, Jim and Mira Houdeshell, as well as Richard Elwood and John and Margie Bailey. Jamie’s pet project was the auction and, thanks to his early efforts. the event grossed just shy of $20,000. A highlight of the show was the induction of Scott Grandstaff and Kitty Roach, of Happy Camp, Calif., onto the FOHBC Honor Roll. Joining them was another Californian, Jeff Wichmann. Scott and Kitty founded the original BOTTLES and EXTRAS magazine, eventually giving it to the Federation when it got too much for them. Sheldon Baugh gave an educational talk about Ohio’s Shaker communities and displayed Shaker bottles from his own collection.
2011 National Antique Bottle Show – Memphis, Tennessee
FOHBC President Gene Bradberry played the perfect host as the Federation returned to the Southland for the first time since 2004. That show also was held in Memphis, known for its downtown trolley cars and barbecue. Second Vice President Ferdinand Meyer V outlined his progress on the FOHBC web site (FOHBC.org) and Virtual Museum during the semi-annual board meeting held prior to the show and sale. Seminars were held dealing with inks (John Hinkel), bitters (Meyer, Don Keating and Sheldon Baugh), odd-closured fruit jars (Dick Watson), German colognes (Carl Sturm) and applied color label sodas (Randee Kaiser). Seven outstanding displays sparked interest, with Base-Embossed Cylinder Whiskeys by Steve Schingler winning the Most Educational Award and Patented Labeled Medicines by Henry Tankersley garnering the People’s Choice Award. Ninety-one lots were offered during the FOHBC National Auction, with the highlight of the sale the Morning Call Bitters going for $5,460, which was $1,460 over the high estimate. The unique variant, light amber with a hint of olive in color, sports deeply indented panels and arched column corners. Another highlight was the induction of Bill Baab, of Augusta, Georgia, into the FOHBC Hall of Fame. Former Federation Treasurer Mike Newman, of Martinez, Ga., nominated the 76-year-old Baab, who joined the Federation in 1996 and later became its Southern Region editor.
2012 National Antique Bottle Exposition – Reno, Nevada
Those who were there at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino included longtime collector and published author Mike Polak, of Long Beach, California. Let’s hear all about it from Mike: “Over the years, I’ve attended a large number of club bottle shows, national shows and Expos, and I need to say that the Reno 2012 Expo was absolutely fantastic and probably the best all around show I’ve ever attended!” If that comment didn’t make show co-chairmen Marty Hall and Richard Siri proud, who knows what will?
This was a show of “firsts” in the hobby. Complementing the thousands of words written about the show were a series of great color photos from the lenses of the first professional show photographer, Scott Selenak. (“There was so much action, my camera couldn’t stop firing,” he said later). Norman C. Heckler & Co., conducted the first “Drake’s, Whiskey & Umbrella Ink Shootout” where more than 200 people showed up. Competing in back-to-back-to-back “duels” were Circle Cutter Whiskey cylinders, Drake’s Plantation Bitters and umbrella inks. After all was said and done, Judges Bruce Silva, Dennis Bray and Ralph Hollibaugh awarded Steve Hubbell, of Gig Harbor, Washington, top billing in the Cutter category for his olive green-amber specimen. Drake’s Judges Jeff Noordsy, Jeff Burkhardt and Rick Simi picked a blue-green example owned by Ferdinand Meyer V, of Houston, Texas, as No. 1. Umbrella inks Judges Holly Noordsy, Bryan Grapentine and Jamie Houdeshell chose a mint and pontiled puce ink owned by Jim Jacobitz, of San Francisco. “I learned how to have a shootout with killer glass bullets and still remain friends,” said veteran collector Lou Lambert.
There were eight seminars on various subjects of interest to collectors held on the Friday before the show. Twenty-seven outstanding displays drew lots of attention. Nearly 200 dealers spread their offerings in the vast Grand Sierra Resort and Casino hall. Two longtime contributors to the hobby, Warren Friedrich, of Grass Valley, Calif., and Jack Sullivan, of Alexandria, Va., were inducted into the FOHBC Hall of Fame. Fourteen scintillating displays ranging from David Hall’s fantastic assortment of E.G. Booz bottles to Dennis Bray’s outstanding EC&M insulators to eye candy Swirls, Whirls, Twists & Twirls from Dwayne Anthony, featuring bottles, fruit jars and insulators.
2013 National Antique Bottle Show – Manchester, New Hampshire
When collector of antique bottles and early American glass think of New England, early glass works come to mind. Like Keene, Stoddard, Temple, Lyndeborough. “I have never seen so much world class glass under one roof before,” said FOHBC Hall of Famer Bill Baab after having attended the Federation’s first National Show to be held in New England. The “roof” belonged to the Radisson Expo Center and the place was Manchester, New Hampshire July 19-21. Co-chairmen Michael George and Maureen Crawford and their Merrimack Bottle Clubbers pulled out all the stops to make this show one attendees will remember for the rest of their lives.
Nine seminars covering as many different areas of collecting got the crowd going in the right direction early on Friday, July 19. Presenters were Rick Ciralli, Connecticut Glasshouse Rarities; Tom Haunton, Last Links to the Past: 20th Century South Jersey Glass; Ian Simmonds, American Mold Blown Tableware 1816-35: A Fresh Look at “Blown Three-Mold”; Michael George, New Hampshire Glass Factories and Products; George Waddy, Mineral Waters from Yankee Country; Jim George, Early 20th Century Milk Marketing in New England; Brian P. Wolff, Mount Vernon Glass Co.: History, Products, People; David Hoover, Uncovering Demijohns, and Al Morin, Markings & Seals Embossed on Milk Bottles.
In addition to the glass and pottery offered by the 168 dealers present, collectors were treated to 17 displays of outstanding glass and pottery. The People’s Choice Award was won by Michael George for his awesome display of Stoddard glass, including inks, a flask with embossed American flag (featured on the souvenir program cover), medicines, utilities and whimseys. Most Educational Award was won by Ken Previtali, of Glastonberry, Connecticut, for his wonderful ginger ale display, many of the bottles displaying an astounding array of paper labels featuring great and colorful graphics. Other exhibitors were Tom Marshall (New England Inkwells), Mark Newton (Lyndeborough Glass), Dale Murschell (Wistarburg Glass), Jeff & Holly Noordsy (Utlitarian Vessels from New England and New York State), Bob Kennerknecht (Sunburst Flasks), Dave Olson (Bonney Ink Bottles), Dave Waris (Moxie Bottles), Rob Girourd (Striped Sandwich Glass), Kevin Kyle (Blue Sodas), Dennis Gionet (Manchester-Produced Bottles), Poaul Richards (New Hampshire Glass Shards), Jim and Karen Gray (Stoneware Jugs), Bobby Heton (Cone Inks) and Jim Bender (Reproductions).
Next came the New England Bottle Battle, sponsored by Norman G. Heckler & Co., and directed by Michael George, dressed in full 19th century regalia. Categories were Whimsical Objects, Colored Medicines and Utility Bottles. And the winners were: (Whimsical Objects), Kevin Sives, Appalachin, N.Y., for his handled E. Waters Ink; (Colored Medicines), Dr. Charles and Jane Aprill, New Orleans, for their half-gallon cobalt Dr. Wynkoop’s Sarsaparilla; (Utility Bottles), Rick Ciralli, Bristol, Conn., for his multi-sided utility bottle. Wrapping up the first night’s activities were the Madness in Manchester Auction put on by Jim Hagenbuch of Glass Works Auctions, with John Pappas the auctioneer. One of the highlights was Lot No. 44, a wide-mouthed sunburst flask/snuff jar in light greenish aqua. Pre-auction estimate was $40,000 to $60,000, but it sold for $24,000.
Inducted into the FOHBC Hall of Fame were Gene Bradberry, of Bartlett, Tenn., and Alan Blakeman, of the United Kingdom. Bradberry is a longtime Federation member, having served multiple times as its president, as well as in other capacities. Blakeman, publisher of BBR (British Bottle Review) Magazine, is England’s well-known “Mr. Bottle Man.”
2014 National Antique Bottle Show – Lexington, Kentucky
It was Tom Phillips’ last show as conventions director and he made the most of it, teaming with co-chairmen Randee Kaiser and Sheldon Baugh to make the FOHBC’s first visit to Lexington and Bluegrass horse country most enjoyable. One-hundred forty-seven dealers set up at 204 tables and offered a bounty of glass and ceramic treasures and most were ecstatic about their successful sales. “One said that within an hour of setting up, he made over $3,000,” said Randee’s wife, Sue. “Another said he made four times the profit as what he usually collects at shows.” The numbers of early buyers (178) and general attendees (320) exceeded the numbers at past shows, said Phillips, whose good work was acknowledged when he received the President’s Award from FOHBC President Ferdinand Meyer V. The show was headquartered at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and held at the adjacent Lexington Center, a wonderful venue with lots of space, great lighting and enthusiastic staff.
Events got under way on Friday, Aug. 1, with a series of six seminars: Jerry McCann’s Mid 1800s, The Evolution of Bottles Through Fruit Jars; The History of ACL Soda Bottles in Kentucky and Beyond, by Randee Kaiser; Here’s to Beers, by Gary Beatty; FOHBC Virtual Museum Progress, by Ferdinand Meyer V and Steve Libbey; The History and Evolution of the Shaker Herb and Medicine Industries by Sheldon Baugh, and Ohio River Privy Digging by Jeff Mihalik. All were entertaining and educational.
This show was notable for a number of “firsts.” A ribbon cutting with Randee and Sheldon utilizing the oversized scissors (enough ribbon was left over for next year’s Chattanooga show and 2016’s Sacramento show) opened the showroom doors. There was an appraisal table in charge of Martin Van Zant (who became a Kentucky Colonel) and friends who saw a cool master ink, a Japanese balsam from Cincinnati, lots of Coca-Cola bottles, an aqua double eagle historical flask “and a ton of common stuff,” he said. California antique bottle auctioneer Jeff Wichmann donated a cool $5,000 for raffling off. Scott Selenak, who has become the Federation’s chief photographer, recorded everything on his trusty digital cameras.
Friday night’s banquet featured Michael “Mr. Bourbon” Veach as the guest speaker. He later signed copies of his book, Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey. Since Lexington is home to the Kentucky Derby, it was appropriate that the Federation hold its own Run for the Roses. Instead of Thoroughbreds, the contest featured wax sealer fruit jars, scroll flasks and Midwestern swirl decanters. FOHBC member Chip Cable videotaped the bottles and projected each onto a large screen. Sue Kaiser tracked down the finishers: WIN: Midwestern Swirl Decanter–John Pastor, New Hudson, Mich.; Historical Scroll Flask – Steve Schlinger, Braselton, Ga. Wax Sealer Fruit Jar–Jerry McCann, Chicago, Ill. PLACE: Midwestern Swirl Decanter–Tom Lines, Birmingham, Ala.; Historical Scroll Flask–John Pastor, New Hudson, Mich.; Wax Sealer Fruit Jar–Ryne Henrich, Crystal Lake, Ill. SHOW: Midwestern Swirl Decanter–Dave Maryo, Victorville, Calif.; Historical Scroll Flask–Mike Henrich, Crystal Lake, Ill.; Wax Sealer Fruit Jar–Perry Driver, Live Oak, Fla.
There were 13 educational displays running the gamut of subjects, with Tom Sproat’s 19th century glass-making tools winning the Federation’s Most Educational Award. Jim Hubbard’s outstanding display of Kentucky pocket flasks won the FOHBC Best of Show Award. Worth mentioning was Federation historian Dick Watson’s display tracing the history of the organization that started in 1969. Unfortunately, Dick and someone else were involved in an automobile accident just minutes away from Dick’s New Jersey home. Both have since recovered. Another novel idea was the fancy hat contest, won with a bottle- and horse-themed example worn by Leanne Peace. Capping the night’s activities was the “Thoroughbred Auction” conducted by Jim Hagenbuch.
2015 National Antique Bottle Show – Chattanooga, Tennessee
The Federation found itself on the right track after picking Chattanooga as the perfect site for its Southern Region national show July 31-Aug. 2. So “Choo-Choo to Chattanooga” was the theme engineered by great graphics on the show’s logo showing an old-timey steam engine. Chattanooga itself was made famous by the Glenn Miller tune “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” sung or hummed during the 1940s-50s: “Pardon me boys, is that the Chattanooga Choo-Choo?” Federation President Ferdinand Meyer V expressed it well in the lead of his main story in the September-October issue of BOTTLES and EXTRAS: “The train arrived in all of its glory, met us at the station, and carried its passengers on a grand three-day excursion in the great southern city of Chattanooga, Tennessee. It left us with memories that will last a lifetime.” Show co-chairmen Jack Hewitt and John Joiner co-wielded the giant scissors to cut the ribbon allowing “passengers” to stream into the showroom of the Chattanooga Convention Center on Saturday afternoon. Dealers were allowed in first, then early buyers, instead of everybody en masse as in previous shows.
Opening the event on the evening of July 31 was the FOHBC Banquet and Awards session in the Marriott Hotel’s ballroom. It was preceded by a cocktail party during which old friends greeted each other and made new friends. Highlights included the induction of target ball collector and expert Ralph Finch, of Farmington Hills, Michigan, into the FOHBC Hall of Fame, and an amusing and emotional address by keynote speaker Tom Hicks, of Eatonton, Georgia. Hicks later became ill and, to his dismay, missed the show and the Rolling Thunder Auction held Saturday night. The Federation Board of Directors surprised President Meyer with a special award denoting his outstanding service not only to the Federation, but to the hobby as well. The President’s Award went to Jim Bender, of Sprakers, New York, “for his outstanding service as FOHBC historian.” Other honors were bestowed on winners in the club newsletters, show flyers, web sites, articles-research/information, best true story and best original fiction story categories.
Bottle-knowledgeable Mike Newman, of Martinez, Georgia, was the perfect emcee of the Battle of Chattanooga Bottle Competition capping the first day’s activities. He was ably assisted by Chip Cable of McMurrayville, Pennsylvania, who filmed and projected the images of each entry. Bob Riddick and Mark White, both of Lexington, South Carolina, checked each bottle and made sure each was returned to its respective owner. First-place winners were Dr. Charles Aprill, of New Orleans, for his 9-1/22-inch tall, cobalt blue Wells, Miller, Prevost sauce bottle. Dr. Aprill is well-known for his love of cobalt blue bottles. Eric Schmetterling, of Moorestown, New Jersey, won the colored sodas category with his amethyst Blagroves Superior Aerated Mineral Waters, Brooklyn, New York, 10-sided, iron-pontiled tenpin-shaped bottle. Best Bottle South of the Mason-Dixon Line winner was Dr. Aprill with his blue wine with embossed grapes and leaves. It was an unembossed variant of the Imperial Levee, J. Noyes, Hollywood, Miss. Judges also gave Dr. Aprill a first-place tie with his pontiled blue Dr. Leriemondie’s Southern Bitters. It was unmarked, but known to be from Brookhaven, Mississippi.
Another innovation introduced by President Meyer was the membership breakfast on Saturday morning. Previous membership gatherings were held in Friday afternoons and were lightly attended since many show-goers did not arrive until later. This one attracted 110 members who voted to increase the Federation dues package to keep up with growing expenses and re-institute life memberships.
One of the best programs is the seminars held during the morning prior to the show’s opening. Tommy Schimpf presented Charleston, South Carolina Colored Sodas; Every Bottle Has a Story, with Ferdinand Meyer V and Jack Sullivan; The History of Jack Daniel Whiskey by Mike Northcutt; Alkaline-Glazed Stoneware of the Edgefield District by Jim Witkowski of Charleston, South Carolina; The Evolution of the Coca-Cola Bottle by Doug McCoy and Bottle and Relic Digging by Rick Phillips and Paul Sampson.
Show scenes were documented by talented Mallory Boyle, Jack Hewitt’s daughter, and her photos were displayed throughout the BOTTLE and EXTRAS issue featuring summaries of the show. Twelve wonderful, colorful and educational displays under the title of Great Southern Bottles chaired by Tom Lines, Birmingham, Ala., and Ed Provine, Millington, Tenn. “Best in Show Award” was presented to Mike Newman, Martinez, Ga., for his stunning array of colored sodas from Georgia and South Carolina. The “Most Educational Award” was given to Tom Sproat, Covington, Kentucky, for his display of glass-making tools. Other displays were Tenn-Cola, Gene Bradberry, Bartlett, Tenn.; Dale Murschell, Springfield, W. Va., paperweight perfume bottles; Walter Smith, Augusta, Ga., Edward Sheehan sodas from Augusta; Mike Jordan, Ocala, Fla., Hyacinth Vases; Bill Haley, Chattanooga, Glass Insulators; Amy Autenreith, Chattanooga, Houston Museum Bottles; Dennis Smith, Buffalo, N.Y., Celery Colas; Jim Berry, Johnsonvlle, N.Y., Inks, and Mike Northcutt, Lynchburg, Tenn., History of Jack Daniels.
NOTES: Ninety-two-year-old Dorothy “Tootsie” Hood, of Apison, Tenn., a longtime bottle collector, became a member of the FOHBC when her grandson bought the membership. . . a treasure trove of items from E. Dexter Loveridge of Wahoo Bitters fame was auctioned off. . . James Penrose came from far off New South Wales. . . Alicia Booth, Houston, Texas, donated a Success to the Railroad historical flask as a hat contest prize in honor of her late husband, Tom. . . Liz Maxbauer, New Hudson, Mich., won it. . . the Souvenir Program’s 107 pages carried features by Jack Sullivan and Charles David Head as well as a listing of the Top 25 Tennessee Bottles. . .there were 230 sales tables. . .
2016 National Antique Bottle Show & Convention – “Back to Our Roots” in Sacramento, California
“A Celebration of People and Our Hobby:” That’s how FOHBC President Ferdinand Meyer V headed the lead story in the follow-up November-December issue of the Federation’s magazine, Bottles and Extras. The organization took root in 1969, some 10 years after John C. and Edith Tibbitts organized its predecessor, The Antique Bottle Collectors of California, in their Sacramento home. That club caught the imaginations of antique bottle collectors from “sea to shining sea,” including Charles Gardner, of New London, Connecticut, known as “The Father of Antique Bottle Collecting.”
Federation officers and board members pulled out all the stops to make this venture into Gold Rush Country a memorable and memory-making, strike it rich experience. First stop was the privately owned McClellan Conference Center and Lions Gate Hotel at the decommissioned McClellan Air Force Base (1935-2001) seven miles northeast at Sacramento. Sacramento resident Jeff Wichmann held open house at his American Bottle Auctions where visitors “ooooed” and “ahhhed” at his collection of outstanding historical bottles and related “goodies.”
The Lions Gate General’s House played host to a reception for dealers and their assistants, early buyers, displayers and seminar conductors on the Thursday evening (the first day of the event). The Sacramento Shootout followed that evening back at the hotel with whiskeys (Jesse Moore Sole Agent cylinders, U.S.A. Hospital Bottles and Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters) in the bottle battle. Richard Siri, who spearheaded the Shootout, found himself the hospital bottle winner. Dale Mlasko captured the top whiskey prize, while Mike Henness’s Hostetter’s topped that category.
The inaugural FOHBC Membership Breakfast Meeting was held at the 2015 Chattanooga show and was a great success, so it was repeated on the Lions Gate Hotel patio. Nothing like free food to attract a crowd. A fine array of speakers presenting educational seminars on Warner’s Safe Cures and Products (Michael Seeliger,.Mike and Kathie Craig), the A.W. Cudworth Business Journal (Tom Jacobs), Early American Scent Bottles (Chris Hartz), Early California Stoneware (John O’Neill), Red Wing Advertising Stoneware (Steve Ketcham) and Gold Rush Artifacts (John Schroyer) followed.
The mud flats at Benicia, California are unlovely to behold. Just when they revealed their hidden iridescent glass treasures is a matter of conjecture, but their unique colors were on a wonderful display called Benicia Glass – Nature’s Tiffany by Michael and Karen Peart. It was just one of 20 outstanding displays of bottles, jars, miniatures, Owl Drug bottles, Hostetter’s Bitters and an apothecary cabinet filled with gems. The Warner’s Safe Bottles and Posters display took both “Best in Show” and “Most Educational” ribbons.
Collectors holding early admission badges joined the rush of dealers into the McClellan Conference Center show room at 1 p.m., Friday. There was a bit of confusion when the supply of early admission badges gave out, but a runner was sent to a local office supply company for name stickers. The crowd may have been a record number for a first day and most were in a buying mood.
That set the stage for the FOHBC Cocktail Party and Banquet Friday evening. There had been 115 reservations, but 150 showed up to feast. Highlight of the meeting was an emotional speech by Betty Zumwalt, the 2008 FOHBC Hall of Fame inductee and noted authority on antique glass, as well as an author. Jeff Wichmann, who had been named to the Federation Honor Roll in 2010, was “bumped up” to the Hall of Fame following his many contributions to the bottle hobby. The late Tommy Mitchiner, of Gordon, Georgia, was placed on the Honor Roll for his role as the Peach State’s most famous antique bottle collector and researcher, particularly relating to the Savannah, Ga., bottles of John Ryan (1852-1870s). John Joiner, of Newnan, Georgia, was presented the President’s Award for an outstanding job at the 2015 Chattanooga National Antique Bottle Show. Mike Bryant, of the Antique Bottle Club of San Diego, hauled off four awards to lead club honors.
Show room doors opened at 9 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 6, and almost 700 folks piled through the door. General admission tags gave out. A tour bus arrived loaded with Reno Antique Bottle Club members. The future of any hobby is its ability to attract younger members and Richard and Bev Siri were ready. The show’s co-chairmen had prepared 44 children’s grab bags, each filled with two or three newspaper-wrapped bottles from the Siri collection. The day was capped by the 49er Bottle Jamboree Auction conducted by Fred Holabird, president of Holdabird Western Americana based in Reno, Nevada. Star of that western bottle-themed auction was an early yellow-green Gold Dust Whiskey from San Francisco (1871-74), a flawless example of only eight known. It brought $34,500 including the auction house premium. Eyes of 200 in-house bidders plus hundreds more online (including a collector aboard an aircraft carrier) shattered previous FOHBC auction records, according to President Meyer. Also setting a record was the 134-page Souvenir Program, surely to become a favored collector’s item.
Jim Bender and Bob Strickhart, co-chairmen of the 2017 National Show in Springfield, Massachusetts (Aug. 3-6), may find it a hard “act” to follow. We shall see.