Vol. 10 No. 4                                                                                                April 2012
Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club Newsletter
Member Club of the F.O.H.B.C.


2012 Bottle Show!

    Who would have ever dreamed. . . This will be the 33rd Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Show. Who would have dreamed the club and the show would still be steaming along after 33 years? Just think back to all the different shows we have had and all the great people who have played a role in the club's history. That is really what it is all about; the people and friendships!

    Having the show on April 21st, which is much later in the month than usual, gives us a rare opportunity to get some final show planning details taken care of. That is a really good thing because I think we have a few loose ends.

    It was so good to see all of you at the last meeting! Kevin took it upon himself to write down the members in attendance for me. The first person he listed was "ME" as in "Him," as in, Kevin Seigfried. Were you expecting an "X"? Also listed were Chuck Parker, Tim Hayes, Dee Cole, Ed Nickerson, Scott Hendricksen, Mary Hamilton, Al Holden and John Pastor!

    Yes! It was good to see John Pastor at last month's meeting! I remember that for years John was always very busy during tax season. Now, with everything else he has on his plate, I don't know how he does it. Mind boggling to say the least!

    Truth is, I also have to burn the candle at both ends to keep up right now. This is my busy season. Come to think about it I also have taxes to worry about. So, for that reason I am going to keep this newsletter short.

    At the last meeting we passed around sign- up sheets so that we would know what food people are bringing for our Friday night pre-show Hospitality Suite. If you didn't make it to the meeting, be sure to be at this one so you can learn what Chuck put you down for!

    I told John I was sweating bullets last year over the Hospitality Suite going right, but it did. As an old trailer salesman I can tell you she went off without a hitch! But frankly I am worried again. If you can please make it to this month's meeting and get yourself down on the list, it would sure make me rest easier. I checked with my wife about what we bought to last year's event. I think in my panic, I had her buy out Gordon's Food Service. At this month's meeting we need to work out our plan. I guess it is better to bring a little too much than not enough.

    Also, John passed out Raffle Tickets for everyone to sell. I can tell you that I for one need to do a better job of selling them and time is running out! The Fisher Metal Detector is really a great prize and the hobby of metal detecting is really off on a big growth spurt! With shows like Gold Rush, American Digger and other treasure hunting specials on cable TV, people will want a chance to win this great detector.

    The way time slips away, I don't remember all the details, but I believe it was the last raffled detector that made it full circle. I believe it was Kevin who sold the winning ticket to the nice lady who takes care of us at Bimbo's Pizza. Then one day Scott asked her if she was enjoying it. That was when she mentioned that she had not used it. Scott offered to buy it from her and she sold it to him. Then, after a few months, Scott asked me to sell it for him!

    I wasn't just trying to get you all charged up about selling raffle tickets when I told you the Fisher F-2 is a good detector. A few more weeks went by when I started to feel like something was left undone. So, I decided to pay Scott off and keep the detector for myself. I had my reason for deciding to keep it. Fisher had decided to change the coil plug on that model which didn't work out well for me. I got stuck with several smaller and larger coils with the old style plugs. What I did was put myself a nice treasure hunting package together with 3 search- coils, a nice padded Fisher carry bag, Fisher headphones and a Fisher Pin Pointer. It really was a nice outfit!

    When it came time for Scott and Chuck to go south for their annual Civil War relic hunting trip, Scott was convinced that Chuck should update his metal detector. Scott was insistent and Chuck was not totally sold on the idea. That was when I told Chuck that he could borrow my detector. I am not sure if either of them realized it was the same detector. I don't think Chuck used it much. However, I knew that if he put it to use, it would find the deep stuff!

    What you won't hear from most metal detector dealers is, as Paul Harvey used to say, "The rest of the story." You see, the metal detector technology that we enjoy today isn't all that new. The description is V.L.F., ground canceling, motion discrimination. The V.L.F. part stands for Very Low Frequency. Metal detectors have always been a part of radio-technology. The first machines that I used in the late 60's and early 70's were 'high frequency' and they had some problems! For one, they were at war with several enemies!

    One of the many problems was radio interference from AM radio broadcast frequencies. This problem really peaked during the height of the C.B. radio craze. I'll never forget when a friend and I were detecting an old park in Kalamazoo when something strange happened.

    The one thing I love about metal detecting is you can sort of let your troubles float away. For the most part there is a certain mindlessness about it that is very therapeutic.

    With the old detectors, you tuned your machine with a slight 'hum' in the background called a threshold hum. You had to teach yourself to keep the coil at a consistent distance from the ground. If you raised the coil too high up, the threshold would grow loud and that could possibly drown out the weaker signals caused by the deeper older targets.

    So, I am listening to the faint threshold hum, trying to keep it steady and listening for that 1877 Indian Head penny, when I realized that I was hearing Ernie Harwell announcing the Tiger Game!

    "He checks the runner, now he goes into his set- position, he shakes off the catcher's signals . . . here is the windup, pitch on the way, STRIKE THREE CALLED! He threw a fast-ball right by him! Wow! The batter watched that one go by, just like the house at the side of the road!"

    Kalamazoo's WKZO AM 590 was being picked up by my metal detector!

    Yes, that wasn't just a distraction to me, the metal detector was distracted as well. Having a metal detector that is distracted is something that still can be a problem, but it is not as bad today, since the detectors have been taken from high-frequency to very-low- frequency. Also by lowering the frequency the detectors are able to deal with the usual 'feedback' they get from the ground itself. If a detector's search coil is too-hot it actually 'sees' the iron minerals in the soil. This is when the ground becomes like a dense fog which the detector is going to have trouble seeing through.

    The V.L.F. detectors can be tuned by the operator to wipe away the fog, resulting in a smoother operation and they get greater depth. Next, they learned that different targets have different 'signatures' and metal detectors can be adjusted to ignore the signature of certain unwanted targets. This is called "Discrimination." In order for this technology to work, the detector's coil must be kept in motion with a smooth back and forth sweep, hence the term, "Motion Discrimination."

    My point is this; the basic technology today is still the same, but all of it has been greatly perfected. The older V.L.F. metal detectors were heavy, required a very fast motion. To reject junk they shut themselves down, then there was a long pause before the system re-booted itself. This was not good! During the shut-down phase you were still sweeping and the detector was off!

    With the modern electronics, the target signatures can be measured and their electronic fingerprints reported. So, when the target is a quarter it can tell you so. Or it can tell a nickel from a penny and so on.

    The focus in the detector industry has been directed toward the entry level market, and the battle has been fierce! The interest in this lower priced market has been created by the Walmarts and Cabellas of the world. What they all want to sell is the product that will appeal to the impulse buyer. Sadly the big-box stores do not provide the important training on target recovery that so many people need . . . which is the down side.

    But, there is no question, we now have some entry level detectors that flat- out find treasure! As long as the American mind is such-as-it-is people will still be paying the big bucks for what they think is "Something better." At the same time the less costly detectors are mopping up the goodies!

    After I assembled this complete Fisher F-2 treasure hunting package, before I loaned it to Chuck, I packed it for use on my last vacation to the U.P. During that two week trip, we had the longest thunderstorm pattern I ever recall, follow us around and I never used it.

    I finally had a customer come in and it sounded to me like it was just what he was looking for so we agreed on a price. About one month later he walked into my store with a big grin on his face and wet dirty mud on his knees. He pulled a little cloth bag from his jacket pocket and dumped a nice pile of old coins on my counter! What really stood out was the nice silver coins which included two Walking Liberty half dollars from the 40's.

    The sad kicker to his story, and I think he was trying to rub my nose in it, was that he found all the treasure coins across the street from my store! I grew up where my store is, and the vacant house lot where he had been detecting was where my friend lived and it was a yard that we often played in!

Bottle News

As the guy to contact on the club web site, I get lots of chances to show the general public how little I really know about old bottles. I really love to watch Pawn Stars, but from the very start of the show, it struck me how the owner, Rick, depends on a lot of other people to keep his business going. He is famous for asking, "What do you want to do with it? Do you want to pawn it or sell it?"

After the person says, "I would really like to sell it."

Rick tells them, "I really don't know enough about this to make an offer. But, I have a buddy who knows all-there-is- to-know. Let me give him a call and get him down here."

What really puzzles me, do these people make any money making him lots of money?

Well, I am no better. Last month a fellow who had worked in the construction trade came into my shop on a Saturday. He wanted me to look at a few bottles. He could see I was busy, so he told me he would leave them, and a business card, and I could look at them when I had time. That is when he and his buddy carried in 3 giant "And I mean GIANT feed bags filled with bottles! Also he had one big box with 6 gallon-sized stoneware jugs. The bags had the biggest collection of crown-top Grand Rapids Brewing bottles ever assembled!

Then, my very good friend had a fellow Civil War collector e-mail me a picture of a really neat bottle from Battle Creek. The e-mail read, "Hello, I have an old bottle that I found on the bottom of Gougac Lake in Battle Creek, MI. It is tall and still has the old flip top stopper on it. It is embossed with the name of W.L. Larkin and also says Battle Creek. I was wondering if you could possibly tell the value of this bottle. If not maybe you would know who could."

I had to call-in some experts! I sent out an inquiry to John Pastor, Steve DeBoode and Elmer Ogg. It was great because they did not know how the others would answer and they were all in agreement!

They all said the bottle was rare and the price ranged from $50.00 to $150.00, depending on condition.

The next e-mail read, "Here is interesting hutch with torpedo bottom. It says "Wells & Co." I have never seen one before. Can you or John Pastor ID and give info on it? My friend has it."

I posted it on John Pastor's Facebook wall and he was able to tell me some things about it. It was one of John's friends, Dennis Smith, who filled in the blanks.

Dennis reported; "Wells opened the first bottling plant in post Civil War Mobile AL in 1866. They moved to Eufaula in 1869 (there is a cobalt Gravitating Stopper bottle) and Montgomery in 1871. This round bottom is from the Montgomery plant circa 1870's. By the mid 1880's Wells Brothers and their children were involved in bottling plants at Montgomery, Selma, and Birmingham, AL and Columbus and Macon, GA. After 1900 Wells family members had established bottling plants west to Galveston and Waco, TX and Santa Rosalia Mexico. Around 1910 Wells family was involved in two nationally advertised franchise colas Gay-Ola based in Memphis and Brainol based in Jacksonville. A Texas Wells advertised a Dr. Pepper like drink named Deacon Brown that also was sold nationally. At least one Wells descendent was still in the soft drink business in California in 1925."

Great stuff! Dennis is now on my Facebook friend's list!

Next, I got the following letter. "Hello, I found you on the Internet and I was wondering if I could ask you a question. My daughter found an Amber Colored Chumard's Cider bottle in Bear Lake in Muskegon. We have been unable to find anything on that Cider Mill and we were wondering if you had a source where we could look this up? Thank you so much for the help!"

Again I asked the pros! This one was right up Elmer Ogg's alley! He responded with the following information:

"Chumard came to Muskegon in 1867 and was here until 1883 when he died after a short illness. He was a civil war Vet and was born in Pennsylvania. He sold ales, lager, porter, cider, soda water and pure cider vinegar. There are 4 different bottles that I know of that have his name on them with the word cider also embossed on them. At the time he was the most prolific bottler in Muskegon. I believe he bottled for Muskegon Brewing Co. early on. Value on the bottle depends on which one it is as some are more common than others. Hope this helps, Elmer"

As it turned out the cool old ring-top amber cider bottle is worth about $75.00! The young lady who contacted me about the bottle told me her daughter found it playing in the water. I told her they should go back and look for more! They did!

"Hi Al! Here I am again. OK - we have been doing more lake clean-up and I found another bottle. This is so crazy - we have never found bottles like this - only glass, shells, rocks, driftwood and beer cans from time to time! Only if you are interested in helping - this bottle is adorable. I also perhaps should contact an antique drug bottle collector - right? Embossed on it is Allen's 2 Drop Lotion - it has a beautiful hand embossed on the bottle w/ drops coming down - actually really pretty. The sides have nice embossed lines. It is clear and it also is embossed Detroit U.S.A... About 5 inches tall and the bottom states Design Patent Applied For.

Also, on the Chumard note - the paper contacted us - I wrote them a brief E-mail and gave them your name and E-mail too. I also mentioned Elmer Ogg helping out... hope this is OK??? We'll see if there is a write-up - Lily would be pretty psyched. Oh - we are having fun!!! Thanks, Lieschen"

I directed the reporter to Elmer and together they did a great antique bottle story! I'm sure it peaked the interest of many people. I went to the metal detector club board meeting and one of my friends thought enough to clip the article and bring it into the meeting! I told her that I was aware of the piece. I will put a link to it in the online newsletter.

I have directed a lot of people to the Kalamazoo club and the bottle show as a result of the Chumard bottle article.

Thanks, John, Steve and Elmer!

Link to the Muskegon Newspaper Story    ANTIQUE CIDER BOTTLE FIND!

The Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club meets at the main downtown Kalamazoo Library, located at 315 South Rose Street. We meet on the third floor in the conference room. This meeting is Tuesday, April 10th. Meeting starts at 7:00 pm.

For questions:

e-mail prostock@net-link.net

Or call 269-685-1776