FOHBC Regional News March–April 2024

US Map Regions

Editor Note: Much of this information is from the May–June 2024 issue of Antique Bottle & Glass Collector. See FOHBC Show Calendar.

Midwest Region [Henry Hecker, Director]

Even though I didn’t attend in person, reading club newsletters that carry their latest “Show and Tell” reports from monthly meetings makes for exciting reading:

The Detroit Bottle Club makes their show-and-tell sessions interesting by using letters of the alphabet to guide what members bring to the show. February was the letter “M” that made for some cool stuff. Found during a Marine City, Michigan river dive were two pieces of “M”oney. Two remarkable finds, a 1788 Spanish two-reale silver coin (minted in Mexico City) and an 1819 English half penny, indicate the amount of foreign coinage that still circulated in early America. The editor ponders, “What if these coins could convey the transactions they were part of before they came to their watery grave.” Another striking item brought for the show was a beautiful green Citrate of “M”agnesia bottle from a Detroit pharmacist, complete with the bail closure.

Midwest Antique Fruit Jar and Bottle Club members were encouraged to bring jar finds from the recent Muncie, Indiana show. That they did with a rainbow of colored and SCA jars as well as some interesting Mason variants.

The North Star, Minnesota Club always has great local bottles and stoneware (usually Red Wing in origin) show up. Among the finds from the February meeting was a nurser bottle embossed “Baby’s Friend.” What may not be well-known is how dangerous these turn-of-the-century glass nursers were to infants. From the Yale School of Medicine, “so-called ‘murder bottles’—a style popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that used a rubber hose to convey milk from the vessel to the baby. The rubber hoses proved impossible to sterilize completely, leading to infections that killed many infants. Despite moves to ban the bottles as early as 1897, they remained for sale in the Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog—the mail-order Amazon of its day—as late as 1915.”

Update: Some nice pictures coming in from FOHBC prez Michael Seeliger at the North Star Historical Bottle Association 52nd Annual Antique Bottle, Advertising, and Stoneware Show and Sale on 14 April 2024. Great picture of Steve Ketcham and Bill Mitchell.

The Seeligers and Heckers will attend the upcoming Kalamazoo Michigan Show on April 6th and promote the Federation at a special table. I have not attended this show before and really look forward to this event.

Incoming from the Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club’s 43rd Annual Antique Bottle & Glass Show & Sale today. Top picture left to right: Henry Hecker, Michael Seeliger, Liz Maxbauer, John Pastor, Martin Van Zant and Dann Louis. Bottom: Alice Seeliger and Ralph Finch.

The recent Milwaukee Show on February 4th was heavily attended, with over 500 people through the door. Dealers reported robust sales on an unseasonably nice day for winter in Wisconsin. What has really helped the club financially, as show venue fees and other expenses continue to rise, is the decision a few years ago to add an “early admission” option to ticket sales. The show had 89 collectors come through the door, which helped cover expenses.

Finally, I offer a tribute story that is very timely with the Houston 24 Expo coming up this summer. The Federation is featuring several “Holy Grail” cobalt bitters bottles, including the famous “Cobalt Fish Bitters.” This bottle and several of its elite blue “friends” grace our promotional literature and t-shirts. There will also be a seminar by Michael Seeliger at Hotel ZaZa.

I have a small connection to this blue fish, and while the provenance of this bottle may be well-documented in succeeding decades, its early life at the time of discovery may have yet to be well-known. While still in college in the early 1970s and already deep in the throes of the “bottle bug,” I met a gentleman by the name of Keith Swearingen, who at the time lived in Waupaca, Wisconsin, with his wife, Marlene. Keith was a gentle and caring man, just an all-around great guy who collected bottles, spurred by the discovery of the Waupaca old town dump. He worked that 1880s-1900 dump with others for several years, and I made several pilgrimages to his home to view and buy a number of his finds. Like all of us, he realized that bottles could also be obtained with much less work at house sales, flea markets and antique shops. One day, Keith spied a bottle in a shop in Ogdensburg, that piqued his interest…a cobalt Doctor Fisch’s Bitters. Remember, this is about 1972 or ’73, and Keith took a chance at $50, not sure it wasn’t a reproduction. But the story he was told made him think it could be real. Supposedly, it was found in a barn where the farmer had used its unique embossing and neck shape to grip the bottle and dispense oral medicine to cattle or horses. What if one of those beasts had bitten down too hard on this fish?!!! By the time I saw Keith on my next visit, he had sold the bottle (Bill Mitchell can tell the story from this point on in its provenance), but I will never forget the photo Marlene had taken of Keith, seated with the fish in one hand and a celebratory cigar in the other. Marlene got a new couch from the sale proceeds. The rest is history…it sure would be something if that photo still exists somewhere.

Northeast Region [Charlie Martin, Jr., Director]

I hope every antique bottle collector in the Northeast corner of our fine country considers attending the Houston 24 Expo from August 01 to 04. If you are fortunate enough to arrive earlier, you should plan to attend the special “Glass in the Grass” event put on by “The Meyers” on July 31st. I, for one, am waiting patiently for the many activities in Houston to get underway. An event of this magnitude comes along only once in a lifetime. The Expo’s uniqueness is the brainchild of fellow board members Ferdinand and Elizabeth. Their willingness to wrestle with and negotiate the arrangements was a coup for the Federation. Our president, business manager, executive board members (past and present), and H24 volunteers have planned an outstanding “once in a blue moon…I mean blue bottles event!” for all attendees. See you in Houston!!

While talking with multiple bottle collectors at recent bottle shows, it became clear to me that the membership activity at the local club level is active in bottle research and other remarkable bottle collecting areas. As a result of those conversations, I request that the Northeast Bottle Clubs Newsletter Chairs include me on your electronic mailing list when you forward your club’s newsletter to your general membership. I can be reached at That way, I will know what is happening at the bottle clubs in the Northeast. Also, with your permission, I can share the myriad of activities occurring monthly throughout the Northeast with fellow collectors. Thank you in advance for your kindness and consideration of including me on your email list.

Shawn Peters, the Baltimore Bottle Club’s show chair, forwarded his show report for our readers to enjoy. First, Shawn and I wanted to say how sad we were to hear of Ron Rainka’s passing on the Monday after the Baltimore Show. Ron was much loved and appreciated for his commitment to our hobby. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him. Rest in peace, my friend. Shawn reports that “…our building is 40,000 sq. ft. with 215 dealers from 22 states as well as the District of Columbia managing 336 tables. In addition to our dealers, we also enjoy(ed) hosting the FOHBC team based in Texas to help promote their organization and magazine. Before the show opened, we had 150 people waiting in line to enter, and between 9 am and 3 pm, we hosted 995 attendees. During and after the show, we heard nothing but positive reviews, which was a relief to hear after six months of planning. Rick Lease was our show organizer for the better part of 25 years, so I had big shoes to fill (as show director) along with my fellow volunteer, Micah Dolina. The vibe throughout the day continued to be that of old friends and family coming together for a large reunion. We had approximately 20 new dealers this year, and they blended seamlessly with the surrounding show members. Attendees seemed to be in awe when entering to see the size of our show, which is a good sign for the future of our hobby. We pride ourselves in reaching far and wide for advertising, which helps draw hardened collectors all the way to someone who is looking for their very first bottle.” As you can see from Shawn’s report, the Baltimore Bottle Club show is a five-star event here in the Northeast, and it is for our bottle-collecting fraternity, the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors.

Elizabeth & Ferdinand, chairs for the Houston 24 Expo set up at the Baltimore Bottle Show.

On March 24, 2024, the Somers Connecticut Antique Bottle Club held its 53rd Annual Show and Sale at Joanna’s Restaurant, 145 Main St., Rte. 190, Somers, Connecticut. Don Desjardins, show chair, could not have been happier. The prior day, Saturday, March 23, the area was inundated with a storm that left four-plus inches of cold rain over the entire state of Connecticut. The show day dawned with a brisk breeze and cloudy skies but not a drop of rain. The parking lot was entirely filled by 9:30 am. The day continued with a steady stream of antique bottle enthusiasts. This writer was one of the happy shoppers who brought home several new pieces to add to his collection. Dealers were quite pleased with the foot traffic and shoppers’ willingness to part with a few dollars. All in all, this club has hosted a very successful event for over half a century. Until next time, Happy Collecting.

Western Region [Eric McGuire, Director]

I would like to give special credit for the job the Oregon Bottle Collectors Association does in its monthly newsletter, The Stumptown Report. Almost every month since 2003 the newsletter has contained a listing of Oregon bottles sold on eBay for the previous month, thanks to Bill Bogynska. Aside from the work involved, the list is a fantastic view of what is happening in the bottle-collecting world. Price trends and collecting trends are reflected in these lists. The last newsletter contains the following:

February eBay Sales – Oregon Bottles:

Label-only Kern’s for Drugs, (Rexall) Cottage Grove 1940s $39.99
Wisdom’s Robertine $19.06
Two embossed Baker Dairy ½ pt. milks $9.95
Embossed Fairview Dairy, Salem pt. milk $13.50
7” Plummer Drug Co. Portland bottle $9.95
Embossed Eugene Creamery pt. milk $37
Embossed Damascus Dairy Portland ¼ pt. milk $15
Lost River Milk qt. Pyro milk $19.99
Embossed Astoria “P” Ore. Qt. milk $8.99
Embossed Damascus Milk Co. Portland ½ pt. milk $9.49
Roseburg Brewing Co. (monogram) crown top beer $134.19
Embossed Damascus Milk & Cream Co. Portland, ¼ pt. milk $10
St. Helens Beverages 1941 ACL soda $61
Allen & Lewis Pure Olive Oil Portland 7 ¾“ $149
Mt. Hood Soda – Portland hutch soda $89
Clear, Oregon Importing Co. Portland whiskey $9.99
Northrop & Sturgis Portland hutch soda $40
Zimmerman, Portland whiskey $22.60
Colstin Natural Mineral Water – seltzer siphon $400
3 15/16” Chas. Rogers, Astoria drugstore $13.50
Clear, Oregon Importing Co. (fluted shoulders), Portland whiskey $162.49
Amber, Oregon Importing Co. (fluted shoulders) Portland whiskey $92
Portland Soda Works – Portland Hutch soda $175
Labeled 5th – Varwig & Son, Portland Whiskey $100
Jackson County Creamery, Medford embossed pt. milk $30
Amber Alpenrose Dairy – Portland qt. pyro milk $29.50
Royal Flush – Alberts Products, Portland 1940s ACL Soda $50
Crater Lake Dairy Products, Klamath Falls qt. pyro milk $36.01
Van Schuyver – Portland whiskey $24.99
Mellow Mist Beverages/Grover Beverages Grants Pass, Medford, N. Bend ACL $65
Palace Pharmacy, Albina drugstore $10
5 ¼“ McNair Bros, Ashland drugstore $17.39
Allen & Lewis Pure Olive Oil – Portland 10 ½“ $44.99
½ oz. Charles Rogers – Astoria drugstore $9.99
Etched – F. Zimmerman & Co. Portland shot glass $20
F. Zimmerman – Portland whiskey $45
5 7/8“ T. Wigman Druggist, Portland $9.99
Three ¾ oz. Medo Land restaurant creamers from Bend $29
Kerr – Economy Portland, qt. fruit jar $15
Embossed, Swastika Dairy, Portland pint milk (with embossed swastika) $99.99

For bottle collectors who venture into the “virtual world,” I would like to report on a Facebook page that has become an important tool for bottle collectors. “California Antique Bottles” has over 1,000 subscribers from across the U.S., and beyond. It has a decided Western bias, even though its subscriber base covers the entire country. For those who are new at this sort of thing, just Google “Facebook California Antique Bottles,” which should bring you to the site. You will need to request joining, which is a simple task.

Southern Region [Tom Lines, Director]

March has been the bottle show month for me. Baltimore the second weekend, Chattanooga/North Georgia Show the third weekend, and the Daphne, Alabama show the fourth weekend…Bam, Bam, Bam! That represents about 2,300 miles of driving! The bottle wagon (my Armada) says, “Dad, give me a break!” Here’s a look at each show.

Baltimore Antique Bottle Club Show & Sale (West Friendship, Maryland): Considered by many as one of the best shows in the country, the offerings of collectible glass covered over three centuries of history. The most in-depth category represented were American historical flasks. This year, Jeff and Holly Noordsy introduced selections from the late Barry Hogan’s collection that dazzled all viewers. Plus, Ed Gray, Rick Ciralli, Mike George, and numerous other dealers offered other great flasks. Something over 300 tables with great bottles. I sold some but then “re-invested” more in mostly colognes and one emerald green chestnut, a color I didn’t have before. Nearly a thousand collectors came through general admission on a cool/cold, windy day on Sunday. I don’t believe anyone left disappointed.

Chattanooga North Georgia Antique Bottles & Advertising Show (Dalton, Georgia): With a Friday morning dealer setup starting at eight local time, I elected not to spend an extra night on the road to arrive on time. Instead, I made the estimated 3-hour and 45-minute drive up in a mere 4 hours and 15 minutes due to a blinding rainstorm where traffic barely moved at 25-30 mph. Another big show this year for only their third year since inception—with nearly 200 tables. Congrats to the show chairmen, Buddy Lasater and Jason Herron! The show had a decidedly Southern flavor to it with the variety of wares offered for sale ranging from beautiful crystals, Civil War artifacts, stoneware (both southern and northern), lots of advertising, insulators plus a good selection of flasks, bitters, medicines, ACLs and more. I snagged a few items to bring home including a nice medium copper-puce Hunter-Fisherman calabash and a Rockingham glazed reclining dog ink well.

Mobile Bottle Collectors Annual Show & Sale (Daphne, Alabama): Always a good show, drawing in over a hundred dealer tables and a steady flow of people on Saturday. Rod Vining was the show chairman—actually, his whole family pitched in to help with table setup. This is one of those homecoming shows for me as I visit with many friends I’ve known for decades. Some have passed on so the older I get, the more I appreciate real face time. I bought a number of things but only one keeper for my collection—a 7 ½” tall redware jug in perfect condition—pretty good for a 200-year-old jug! The variety of offerings reminded me of an antique flea market…with a little something for everyone. The real highlight of this show is going out to eat Friday evening at an Italian seafood restaurant in the next town to the south—Gambino’s in Fairhope. For several decades a group of four of us go out together—no one has ever left hungry!

Well, that wraps up March. April brings up the South Carolina Bottle Club’s 51st Annual Show & Sale (Columbia, South Carolina)…always a good one!, and in May, the Alabama Bottle Collectors Society will sponsor their 4th Annual Alabama Bottle & Antique Show (Gardendale, Alabama), now in its fifth year. Show Chairmen Keith Quinn and Steve Holland promise another sellout this year. Until next time, be well, everyone!

Suncoast Antique Bottle Collectors Assoc. Show & Sale in Tampa. Left to right: Charlie Livingston (SABCA), George Dueben (Show Chair), Richard King (SABCA President), Michael Seeliger (FOHBC President)

Extra from FOHBC president Michael Seeliger reporting from the Suncoast Antique Bottle Collectors Show & Sale on 16 and 17 February 2024. The bottle show was well attended, with all dealers set up early except for one. They came in early Saturday—55 or more tables, though I didn’t get a specific count. There was good early admission, with a 9:00 am line of about 30 people ready to go in, and there were lots of people at the tables until well after noon. Dealers started breaking down at about 1:45, meaning there was activity up until the end. 

There was lots of interest in Houston 24. Probably about 25 people said they were attending and looking forward to it. Once we discussed all that was in the Houston 24 package, those who were on the fence became positive to attend. Easy sell! Membership: Sold two right at the table. Probably five or six said they needed to renew their membership before their old magazine membership dropped. They planned on signing up once they saw the new magazine and heard of all the FOHBC perks. There was a lot of interest in the H24 Sunset Auction. I purchased a couple of items to place in the auction. I told several that there might be advantageous commission rates if they were table purchasers and VIPs, especially if they came on board early to get the promotion going. Very positive comments on the Federation and how it is going currently. Some found getting on the FOHBC website difficult. I showed them, but some need help getting through the initial membership portal setup. Comments were favorable about using some of the funds that the Federation has to pay for a brand-new website, administrative help, and other perks for membership, which I found surprising and joyous. Everyone was amazed at all the current graphics coming out for Houston 24. The seminar comments were very positive. Everyone loved the mineral vs bottles webinar. Many are looking forward to viewing the entire program on the website.