Vol. 13 No. 1                                                                                                       September 2013
Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club News
Member Club of the F.O.H.B.C.

Extra, Extra, Read All About It!

One day after the newsletter was in the mail, our club president called to give me some news! This month our meeting will be short. We will meet at the library for some club business, then we will re-group at Bimbo's Pizza!
You must be a current member.

Bottle Club Meetings Resume!

Meeting is on 9-10

    Hi Gang! I hope you had a swell summer! Our 2013-14 bottle club meeting season gets underway starting Tuesday, September 10th. We meet at the usual location, the downtown Kalamazoo Public Library. The address is, 315 South Rose Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007. We meet on the third floor in the 'conference room.'

    I have to admit, this month's meeting snuck up on me! Truth is, I only have one day to put a newsletter together, that is, if I am going to get it out to you on time. Frankly, I am not doing so good when it comes to antique bottle news, but I am hoping to hear some of your digging stories this month. As usual, I don't have too much to offer.

    The only connection that I have had this summer to digging and collecting, (other than that great club picnic), was right from my living room recliner, by means of the Federation of Historical Bottle Collector's bi-monthly magazine Bottles and Extras, and my favorite, John Pastor's Antique Bottle & Glass Collector magazine.

    In the last 2 issues of Antique Bottle and Glass Collector, John featured a two part series, "A Dig To Remember," written by long- time club member, Mark Churchill . . . which by the way I throughly enjoyed! It was funny because it was sort of a digger's confessional!

    Mark, being very much the expert he is, had assigned two of his digging buddies a 'newer' privy to dig. And for himself, well, he was working on an 'earlier' or older pit. Rest assured Mark's heart was in the right place.

    Well, sometimes the best of bottle diggers can have the tables turned on them! That pit, which by all evidence seemed to be more recent, was indeed newer, but, it was also the older pit!

    We have long figured that for the average size family, a new privy would be dug about every ten years. At a location such as this, where the first pit had been dug around 1840 or 1850, the last pit could have been dug as many as 60 years "after" the first pit had been filled in!

    It is not all that rare to find a pit that had been, at least partially, dug into the oldest privy. In this case, that is just what happened! So, just below, and along-side the newer privy, was the original first one! And it proved to be a deep pontil-pit! A true treasure-trove of beautiful antique bottles and very well stocked!

    Mark and I have been friends going way back to when he was a young man still in school, and he knows I have the greatest respect for him as a bottle digger, but this story had me smiling from ear to ear! Mark is digging in what should be the oldest pit, by all the evidence, yet just a short distance away the guys in the newer pit are whooping and hollering as they find one treasure after another! I can picture Mark's smile surrounded by puzzled amazement!

    Several great bottles were mentioned in Mark's story, here are a few: Grand Rapids, Mich. Dr. Shepard's Wahoo Bitters, several rolled-lip umbrella inks, a black-glass ale bottle, some pottery inks, Dr. Guysott's Sarsaparilla, S.H. Allen & Company master ink, J. Stafford Gregory Instant Cure of Pain, Hurd's Golden Gloss, Harrison's Columbian Ink, I.L. St. John's Black Ink. The last bottle dug was a sapphire blue 12-sided umbrella ink with a square-corner, tooled, applied-lip!

    Mark says it took several hours to properly backfill all the pits they dug that day, to do it right. The total bottle count was over 100! Many of those bottles were pontiled!

Thanks, Mark for writing about the digging! It felt like I was right there with you guys!

Hurd's Golden Gloss

    When I saw that product name "Hurd's Golden Gloss" I couldn't help but wonder "What was that product for?" Many times in digging bottles, dating from the early to mid-1800's, you learn that people spent money on products that made their lives a little more 'polished.' It is a market strategy that is 'Biblical,' cashing in on man's sinful "pride" issue. It is not unusual to find bottles which contained stove polish and even boot-black polish which used the term "Gloss" in the product's description.

    So what about Hurd's Golden Gloss? Well I found that it was to give the hair that "Dark, soft and glossy appearance and to keep the head clean and healthy!"

Here is the wording from an ad for Hurd's from the 1855 New York Independent News.

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Now, first let me translate; the word "toilet" used here is a "dressing table."


This Preparation has never failed to produce a new growth of Hair on Bald Heads, when used according to directions. "It is designed expressly for that purpose, whereas, nearly, if not all the various preparations advertised for that purpose are, in reality, designed merely for the toilet," and are composed of oils, alcohol, etc. injurious rather than beneficial to the scalp.

The Petersburg (Va.) Intelligencer says of Hurd's Hair Restorer:

"This preparation seems to be efficacious for the restoration of the hair upon bald heads. We have seen testimony of persons well known to us, who have used the compound successfully, thereby corroborating the opinion of its restorative energy."


which gives to the hair a dark, soft and glossy appearance and keeps the head clean and healthy.

Hurd's Hair Restorer is sold for $ 1.00

Hurd's Golden Gloss is 25 ¢  per bottle
 by Druggist generally.

I don't know about you, but I love this stuff! 1855! Very cool!

The Club Picnic

    We had a great time at the club summer picnic. The turnout wasn't what we had hoped for, but we had a perfect day for a cookout and I am certain everyone enjoyed themselves. I wish I had taken some notes, and made a list of everybody who was there, but I was kept pretty busy flipping burgers and grilling hot dogs.

    One guy who showed up, dropped off some goodies, then rode off like the Lone Ranger! That was our friend, Mark McNee. I pointed Mark to a good antique pick this summer, and when he stopped at the picnic he gifted me a beautiful double eagle 1-pint historical flask! That was totally unexpected, but it is not the first time Mark has shown me undeserved gratitude! Thanks Mark! You are too good!

    Vince had some neat bottles on display as well, and it was neat to see all of your wives and family at the picnic!

    We had an unexpected guest at the picnic, my friend Dan Hill. Dan stopped by my store before the picnic to visit. Dan has some friends who are in the film production business and he was trying to sell them on the idea of a privy digging reality show.

    Hey-- why not? I think that is a neat idea! There are already a few metal detecting reality shows that seem to be doing very well. Frankly, the first one out named "Diggers" is a little to corny for my taste, but it sure stimulated the metal detector sales.

    Another show that is even worse (in my opinion) is "America Digger" with former pro wrestler, Ric Savage. I watched a total of about 2-1/2 minutes of pro wrestling back when my boys were little, before reaching the conclusion that these people are dumber-than-dirt and Ric Savage is proof that I was 100% right!

    Now, today there is a new treasure hunting reality show called "Dig Wars." I only caught the first part of one episode. I personally know many of the cast of this one, and it isn't nearly as stupid. I understand they have been cleared to do several more episodes.

    So my friend Dan is trying to put together a pilot film test episode of "Outhouse Diggers." He was sharing his idea when he asked, "Al, we need someone who knows privy digging, is very energetic and has a bubbling personality, do know anyone like that?"

    If you do not have any idea whose face I saw in my mind's eye, just listen to what Chuck and Kevin said when I asked them Dan's question. They instantly said. . . "Scott!"

    I said, "Dan, I know of someone who fits this part like nobody else in America! In fact, the bottle club is having a picnic this weekend, why don't you bring a dish-to-pass and I will introduce you to all the gang!"

    Well, Dan was there with his dish-to-pass and I introduced him to everyone, but Scooter wasn't there! That is as much as I know until this next meeting.

    As for the surge in detector sales, well, it wasn't as good as it could have been. The guys in the original Diggers show use a Garrett Metal Detector model called the AT Pro. This detector is great! It is very affordable and will work on land and underwater. It really is an awesome detector, but frankly Garrett was not prepared for the sudden demand for one of their products!

    Yes, I had the buyers waiting in line outside my door, with money in hand, but like Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard, my shelves were far-too-soon bare to the wall! And AT Pro's were nowhere to be found. I was put on a 30 day waiting list!

    It was all about as frustrating as possible! For a while, I was in better shape than most dealers, because I went into spring sales with a pretty good supply. Just one year before, I learned my lesson. In 2012 we went through a product shortage spurred on by a sudden gold-rush in South Africa. One of my product manufactures diverted all their production, to build the model the prospecting market demanded. (A $5,000 detector which I had no market for.) So, indirectly I got hung out to dry! Their production strategy screwed things up for a number of their dealers here in the U.S., who wanted submersible detectors . . . none to be had!

    I was going great guns this time around, and still had product to sell when many of my fellow dealers had run out. I was actually getting calls from dealers as far away as the west- coast wanting to know if I would sell some of my stock! Get this, some were willing to pay me full retail, (which is more than I sell them retail for!) But, I have something against selling to my competitors! I would rather sell to my customers!

    That was my original view towards selling used detectors on e-Bay. I have sold stuff on e-Bay since 1998, but to begin with, it was general antiques. I saved all my used detectors for my walk in customers. My thinking was, "If someone drove an hour or two to get to my store, he-or-she deserved first crack at the widest selection I could offer!"

    Unfortunately, that type of thinking will kill a dealer today! Buyers look to the Internet for nearly everything except a haircut! (I am sure someone is working on that.) Especially with gas prices where they are.

    It is really quite amazing, people who live as close as 20 miles from my store will call and ask if I have the smallest of items, then, after asking me the price, they ask, "Can you ship it to me?"

Well, I found enough stuff to fill a couple pages. As you can see, my wife is not in the editing business anymore, which explains this mess. I hope to see each of you at our meeting!

The Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club meets at the Kalamazoo Library

315 South Rose Street.

We meet on the third floor in the conference room. This meeting is Tuesday, September 10th. Meeting starts at 7:00 pm.

For questions:

e-mail prostock@net-link.net

                                                                                                      Or call 269-685-1776