Vol.8  No. 10                                                                                                                                     September 2010
Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club News
Member Club F.O.H.B.C.

This Month Local Historian, Tom Dietz! Then PIZZA!

This Month; "All hands on deck!"

        OK, this is somewhat of a repeat --- you're right! If you missed our meeting last month, you weren't the only one! Mr. Dietz didn't make it either! It was just a simple mistake on Mr. Dietz's part. Let's face it, we all make mistakes from time to time! Even I made one once! I volunteered to do this newsletter until we found another writer! That mistake left a blemish on my sterling record of perfection! Mistakes are God's way of reminding us that we don't measure up to his standards!

         So, we will try once again to welcome Mr. Tom Dietz as our special speaker this month. Mr. Dietz has spoken to the metal detector club and I can tell you that he is a very interesting guy to hear. President Chuck Parker tells me that Mr. Dietz will be talking about Kalamazoo Medicines!

          That should be interesting! There was a time when more snake-oil came from Kalamazoo than almost anywhere else!

          The last time he spoke to the detector club, his topic was about life in Kalamazoo during the American Civil War. It wasn't about the actual fighting in the war, even though thousands of soldiers mustered out of Kalamazoo for the fighting, Mr. Dietz's topic was most interesting indeed! What he spoke about was what life was like living in Kalamazoo during the war years and it was a real eye opener!

              Last month we were hoping for a big turn out to hear Mr. Dietz and frankly, I was surprised by the number! We have to keep in mind that our club President, on the other hand, is a modern day J.E.B. Stuart and a hard man to please! So, this month our meeting is not a training exercise; This is the real deal! In an attempt to bring the numbers up, we are offering free Pizza! Now, don't get carried away, you cannot invite your neighbor or your bowling team, You must be a regular antique bottle club member, in good standing, or someone who is ready to bring your dues up-to-date at this meeting, in order to do the pizza party!

           The plan is to meet at our regular location at the Kalamazoo downtown library and, after some brief club business and Mr. Diez's presentation, we will be relocating to Bimbo's Pizza!

           We are hoping that you can make it out to this special meeting! I know that there are many things going on during the summer months, but I hope that we will have a good turn out. As was our plan last month, we will be skipping our regular bottle raffle and the $25.00 that we normally would spend on the raffle bottle(s) will be donated to the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, as Mr. Dietz suggested.

          The following items remain unchanged from the last newsletter; If you normally bring a few bottles to put into the raffle, you could still offer them for sale to the members at the meeting. Also, because of the special program, this month's meeting theme will again be Kalamazoo Medicines. So you can bring back whatever you displayed last month. Other Kalamazoo bottles and go-withs are welcomed as well, so if you got'em, bring'em!

          I mentioned that a lady found our club website while she was searching for information about a Kalamazoo bottle. As it turned out, she works with a group of folks who handle estate sales! I guess building the club a web site and posting my e-mail address finally has paid off!

          Her bottle had no embossing, and it could have been be a very early 'A.B.M.' machine-made bottle judging by her picture, but it turned out to be hand-finished, with a clean and bright label! It is a Kalamazoo Celery Compound bottle!

         I answered all of her questions and I told her that her $25.00 price tag (that was stuck on the bottle in her picture) was very fair, but I think I may have lost her trust when I tried to buy the bottle. Frankly, I didn't really know what the value of her bottle was, but was sure that 100% of the value is in that nice label.

The label reads:



Billousness, Constipating, Indigestion, Dyspepsia, Fever and Ague, Rheumatism, Kidney and Liver Complaints, Blood Disorders, Disorders of the Urinary Organs and all forms of Nervousness, Headache and Neuralgia. Also positive cure for Female Complaints and Diseases arising from an impure state of the Blood. It is a valuable Tonic, reviving the energies and faculties which makes it the best medicine for aged people.


For Adults, from one to two teaspoonfuls four times a day, before meals and at bedtime. Children in proportion. In severe cases of Neuralgia and Rheumatism increase the dose; and in obstinate cases or diseases complicated with Scrofula add ½ ounce of Iodide of Potassium to each bottle.


PRICE $1.00

             I told her that at one time the city of Kalamazoo was known as the Celery City. When I was a kid that description of Kalamazoo was grinding to a halt. I do recall some celery flats in the North Douglas and the Mosel areas. Does anyone in Kalamazoo raise celery today?

           Well, since last month, I did some research on the Kalamazoo Celery industry from days gone by. In the hey-day Kalamazoo not only grew most of the celery used in America, but the industry imported it from other states in the off-season to distribute it through its established marketing channels.

             One of the articles that I found blamed the paper industry for creating one of the downfalls of the celery industry! This was because they sank deep wells all around the Kalamazoo area which lowered the water table! Another problem was that the farmers didn't realize the importance of rotating their crops.

              The celery industry also spawned an abundance of patent medicines by energetic hucksters. At the turn of the century, celery was thought to have "ever-soothing" and aphrodisiac properties sold to strengthen a person's "exhausted nature." It was claimed that celery products could purify blood, quiet nerves, regulate the liver, renovate the kidneys, relieve stomach disorders, and treat nervous disease. Some of the patent medicine manufactures were legitimate drug manufacturers, such as the Upjohn Company.

This is a photo of this print, I have actual the print somewhere, I just need to locate it. Each one of these little roaches has a name of a snake-oil product and the city where the product is manufactured or "brewed" and over half are from Kalamazoo! Many are in some way connected to celery!

This photo appeared on the cover of a New York Magazine in 1906 during the fight to pass the 1907 Pure Food & Drug Act.

When I run across this picture again I will make a list of the companies. I am 99% sure one of them is P.L. Abbey!

         Since I started writing, and before I finished the last newsletter, I received a couple e-mails from Sandy, the gal with the bottle. As it turned out someone told her that the Celery Compound bottle is worth more than $25.00 and more like $45.00.

The bottle went on sale at an Estate Sale in Gobles the weekend before the meeting.

        I made Sandy an offer on the bottle but I told her that I wasn't sure that I could get over to the sale. I told Chuck about the sale and was hoping that he could be in line at the opening of the sale to buy the bottle for me. I guess I didn't explain myself to Chuck or Sandy! Chuck showed up early to the sale and asked about the Kalamazoo bottle but he was told that it was already sold!

        I didn't know that when I decided that I would close my shop for an hour and head for Gobles! Why not? Life is to short to miss every single estate sale! As I was heading west on "D" avenue I started feeling guilty about being away from the shop. I was really fighting the urge to 'forget about it' and turn back, as I cruised through Kendall. That is when I saw Chuck heading back east toward Kalamazoo.

        I wasn't 100% sure that it was Chuck but it looked like his van and it looked like Chuck driving it. So, I made a U-Turn and tried to play catch-up. I finally got behind him as he reached the four corners in Alamo. Then he threw me a curve when he turned north on 6th street. By that time I felt like I really needed to get back to my store. I found out that it was indeed Chuck that I was following, and he had turned to follow a yard sale sign, and, he didn't have the Kalamazoo bottle.

         I got back to the shop and I sent Sandy an e-mail and after an hour or so I put in a phone call to Chuck. I learned that the bottle was still at the estate sale and that they told Chuck it had been sold! Sandy had her coworkers holding it for me! I closed the shop once again and blasted back to Gobles! My timing was bad. Sandy was not on site but she could be reached by cell phone. She had the bottle with her and she was headed back right away, I was told.

       As I waited, I poked around the sale and found a very heavy copper ashtray with a sailboat on it. The sail boat reminded me of one embossed on a half-pint flask that I have. I bought the ashtray and the Kalamazoo bottle. When I got back to my shop I found a customer waiting.

         I displayed the Kalamazoo bottle at the last meeting and it was a really big hit! Sandy contacted me again about another estate sale in Parchment, but once again, I could not get away very easily. Sandy sent me some pictures of several dairy bottles but she didn't have the time to write down the details, and I could not make out the embossing in the pictures. I just didn't have enough details about the bottles to be able to get her prices from anyone. I mentioned the sale to Chuck. He did get to the sale and he purchased a one- pint "Anton Varga Dairy" bottle from Kalamazoo.

        I did get another lead from the club site and I bought two more bottles. This time they were from a guy who lives in Otsego. He found an old farm dump and of all the bottles that he found, two were keepers. . . so he thought. Well, I was shocked! One is a very clean 1880's bottle embossed "Shilow's Consumption Cure." I understand that this was basically a heroin bottle! I also purchased an open-pontiled R.R.R. Radway bottle! This guy found these in the surface layer of this farm dump! Think of it!

       All the rest of the bottles were very common and most were not embossed. He had a yard sale last week and he called to tell me about it. I went over to check it out but I only saw one milk bottle that looked like anything good. It was from a Kalamazoo dairy with pyro-glaze and it had a promotion for war bonds. It was rough! Some of the lettering was gone and some was growing fungus! He had it marked for $70.00 and I thought, "Good luck!"

         After I got back to my store it dawned on me that I really don't have any idea what a bottle like that was worth! I had his cell number on my caller ID and I gave him a call. I told him not to take any less then $20.00 for the bottle because I would pay him that. That is when he told me that he had just sold it for $50.00!

At the next meeting. I am expecting someone to tell me how bad I messed up


         We had a good turnout at the last meeting. The people at the meeting were: Jeff Chase, Wayne Marvin, Joanne Bata, Alex Bata, Paul Bata, Kevin Siegfried, Chuck Parker, Edward Nickerson, Mary Hamilton, Karen Schneider, Scott Hendrichson and Al Holden.

         We had a good meeting and there were some good bottles to look at and some good stories swapped. It was very good to see the Paul Bata family diggers who drove all the way from Niles. Once they were coming into Kalamazoo, Paul called me with his cell phone to ask directions to Bimbo's Pizza!

         You see, some people do read the newsletter! We should sell Bimbo's some advertizing. Paul and Alex had been doing some digging and they brought a box of bottles to show us! Alex had just dug a deep-aqua historic flask in very nice condition. If I was a better note taker I could tell you which historic flask it is.


Recent digs reported to me are from Chuck who tells me that he went digging with Scott Hendrichson and Eddie Nickerson (A.K.A. Ed) and they turned up some antique bottles. Everything was common with one exception. They dug, in mint condition, a George McDonald Drug Company, "Quality Counts" bottle from Kalamazoo. That was before the guy ventured into fast food.

On another "Chuck, Scott and Eddie dig," they unearthed some more common bottles, as well as doll parts, a broken midget 1858 Mason jar and a rare fruit jar cap.

Remember when I said that Chuck turned in Alamo to follow a yard sale sign? Well at the sale he managed to get permission to dig! You have to take every opportunity!

Chuck and Scott stopped at a yard sale and got permission to dig a house they think dates back to 1874. They dug a Mrs. Winslows Soothing Syrup and several Raleigh's bottles. One of the Raleigh's bottles said "Pain Killing Oil" which Chuck thinks may be a little more rare. Saddly that is the bottle the homeowner picked for himself.

More food for thought!

After all the discussion at the last meeting about table coverings for the club's display room at the show, I guess we ran up the tab! By the time we got all the lettering added in, (Kalamazoo is not a four letter word) as well as the Michigan map, the total was $375.00 for all three tables.

So we are going to pass the hat if you care to donate towards the project. I think that it is worthwhile because what we picked out sounds like it will be really nice, of high quality and it should last the club for years to come. I told Chuck that I would pitch in towards the cost . . . what can we put you down for?

Speaking about rising costs, the Kalamazoo Library is raising their rates! Instead of $10.00 per meeting it is going to $25.00 per meeting! Just when we decided to meet year around! What should we do? Chuck mentioned that if we cut out the amount we donate to the library each year and apply it to the higher cost everyone would break even! Let us know what you think at the meeting.





Newsletter by:  Al Holden
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