Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club News          


Written By, Allan C. Holden

Vol. 14  No. 4                                                                                                                                                                                               December 2014



Last Meeting!

W e had another great meeting! I arrived near the Bimbo’s Pizza location about 10 minutes early, but I could not find a parking space on either side of the street. I have never been a big fan of one-way streets but, in the case of curb parking, at least if you make enough laps, someone is going to open up a parking space.

It seemed like time was ticking by too fast and I could envision myself missing all the great pizza! That was when I decided to take any space I could find! On the same block, but as far away as one could get, I spotted a space! However, after I got squared-up and close enough to the curb, I reached for the ignition switch when I noticed a sign, LOADING ZONE HOLLY JOLLY TROLLEY !!! So I pulled out for another lap!

Once again I spotted a parking space and as I pulled in, I saw two lovely young ladies just getting out of their car ahead of me. Right away I recognized it was Kelsey and Katie. They looked back to see me parking when I rolled down the window and asked if they thought I was in a real parking space!

They looked over the signs and agreed it looked questionable! But, they motioned me towards the spot ahead of their car. The three of us started our one block hike to Bimbo’s Pizza. We went by one of the local watering holes when a pan handler stepped into our path looking for a handout!

Instantly my grand- fatherly instincts were triggered and I went into my karate crane kick position! Ok, maybe that wasn’t exactly what happened. Frankly that sort of thing leaves you in an awkward position. I thought if I take out my wallet and the man sees I have not one but three dollars . . . what then? Was I ever glad I had the gals along to keep me safe!

We finally reached Bimbo’s and made our way back to where the gang was already seated and Katie looked at me with an astonished look! I know the gals had never seen such a big turnout for a club meeting! I just nodded and said, “It’s the pizza!”

I have to say, when we all get together it is a big group and a lot of fun! Here is the names I have on my sign up sheet, and frankly I am not sure I have them all. The following pizza eaters left their marinara sauce-smudge:

Kelsey Ennis, Katie Osborn, Bob Haffner, Mary Hamilton & Linda, Ed Nickerson, John Winkler, Ron Smith, Charles Parker, Vincent Grossi, Kevin Seigfried, Elmer Ogg, Mark McNee, Scott Hendrichson, Steve DeBoode, Tim Hayes and Al Holden.

Because of Veteran’s day the Kalamazoo Library was on lock-down, so we met at Bimbo’s Pizza. Even so, we still saw some awesome bottles!

Where to start? We filled up two large tables and a few side booths. Most of the bottles did not make their way around every table. For example, Scott Hendrichsen had a bunch of freshly dug treasure that never even reached me.

      I guess for that I can be grateful! Think about it, he does this very well! He brings in stuff still covered with privy vitamins, passes them around and everyone handles them. Then with the same dirty hands we pick up a slice of pizza! Hey, maybe that is the secret to great pizza?

One of Scott’s finds, one that I thought I had a picture of, was a neat cast iron cannon! It is a pretty good sized heavy item and my first thought was, “This is not a toy, but a signal cannon!” It is pretty cool but very rusty! I think Scott plans to do some electrolysis on it, then perhaps we will learn more.

      Also, Scott found a beautiful pontiled S.O. Richardson’s Bitters bottle! Dr. Solom Osmond Richardson was a doctor, who was also a son of a doctor. Solom’s father, Nathan Richardson, started bottling his 98 % alcohol, bitters as early as 1808, and from the very beginning, folks claimed to feel better from the first dose!

Dr. S.O. Richardson continued bottling and marketing his father’s elixir long after his

       After his father’s passing in 1836, he decided to improve the packaging to make his product easier to sell and ship on a larger scale.

      Originally, the bottle that was used was a tall wine-bottle style, which was fragile and did not package or travel well in great numbers. At that time, road travel by freight- wagon and by rail was rough indeed . . . breakage was almost a guarantee!

       So that brings us to Scott’s beautiful bottle! The new size and shape meant the product would travel well for a much greater distance, plus, more could be packed per-case, which meant more profit!

The bitters business grew to the point that Dr. S.O. Richards was able to stop his practice as a doctor and concentrate solely on overseeing his medicine shipments all across the eastern and midwestern states. From the research I did, I learned that he was very ill during his final years.

Ed Nickerson brought along some neat items he had picked recently and I always enjoy looking over stuff like that. If you are a fan of America Pickers you would love the Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club meetings!

The bottle that I picked up was a nice early, machine made medicine with full label and even one dose left! He even had the original box!

The product is: 



 Alcohol 72%, Chloroform 18 minims per ounce, camphor, chloroform, oil of cloves, oil of sassafras, oil of turpentine. DR. PETER FAHRNEY & SONS, CHICAGO, ILL.

            Another item that Ed gave me as a gift (actually he gave me three items because I am such a nice guy) was an old, heavy, glass, W. BROOKFIELD insulator. I have a fairly large collection and I know little to nothing about them, but I really like them! The ones without threads we generally use for pistol practice.

            This one is embossed:



Pat Nov. 13th 1883 & Feb 12th 1884.


            Ed also gave me two 1962 Chevy Biscayne taillights. Everyone was impressed that I knew what they were at a glance. Friends, I am an old school drag racer and I know my 60's era cars better than anything else! I took one look, and I could see fender-skirts, dual antennas and dual exhaust! I could almost hear that big dual-quad 409 rumbling along over the sound of Elvis on the radio! And did you see that babe pictured on the air freshener?

            Ed also had a nice cobalt blue poison bottle. It was for sale, but I have one so he found another eager buyer!

            Mark McNee had some other items for sale! Mark has been dealing in cool antiques for a LONG time! I must say he has an eye for finding some great stuff! One bottle I saw being passed around was as sweet as they come! I believe it ended up in Chuck Parker’s amazing collection of labeled medicines! This one was all about the label . . . and it is a beauty!


alcohol 7%, choloroform 4 min’s per ounce,


It relieves ordinary sore throat, stops the tickle, heals the throat, relieves the cough.


            What is so neat about this label is the color graphics. It shows a farmer leaning against his white farm fence with a field of clover as his background. He appears to be holding a honey comb in his hand!

            Vince brought in a nice article that he found in one of his bottle books. I have trouble reading anything in a setting like we had at the pizza party. I am one of those strange birds for whom they make you whisper in the library. I think it comes when you get a one track mind. So, I took a picture of the article.

            Of course I pointed out to some of the younger members of the club that we were a stone’s throw from the B. Desenberg Wholesale Grocery location. When I looked over the pictures of the article, I noticed the writer’s names- - Lew Wisser and Joe Widman! Joe is one of the premier Kalamazoo collectors and a member of our club! That is indeed a treasure, Vince! I really should have looked a little closer.

            Tim Hayes had a small round bottle that is in a style that I was taught is a “purse bottle.” The bottle is amber and embossed:


            Protonuclein was trade-name of a substance prepared from the lymphoid tissues of animals, with the addition of gum and milk-sugar for making it in pill form. It was employed as a healing application to wounded and ulcerated surfaces. I found that it was used for everything from thyroid trouble to pneumonia. Neat stuff you can learn from old bottles!

            Kevin Seigfried showed up with a thick book full of ornate, canceled, stock certificates from the Kalamazoo Vegetable Parchment Company. When I was growing up we called it K.V.C.P. Paper Mill and nearly every family knew someone who worked there!

            It was really cool to look through that book of stocks and see all of the names of families so important to Kalamazoo history! The shares were worth $10.00 each, in 1923! That was when ten dollars was a meaningful amount of money! The biggest stock holder at the time, as far as I could see, was J. Kindleberger.

             J. Kindleberger was chief shareholder with thousands of shares. If you are familiar with this area, you probably know about Kindleberger Park.

            Mark McNee brought in something that he had contacted me about earlier in the day. It is a tin advertising wall-hanger in the form of a windmill. The windmill blades served as the pivot point of a small glass egg timer. It was made by the Grand Rapids Calendar Company. My guess is it dates to the 19-teens! It really means a lot to me!






            I am an active member of a Facebook group called Vanished Otsego. I posted a picture of this little item on the group page and the memories started flowing!

 One member said: “My Mom and Dad purchased their chicken and rabbit feed from Pike's. And then we would go into Roger's Grocery Store and talk to Nobby the butcher in the Meat Dept. and he would give me a free bone for the dog....this never happens in this day and age.”

 Another said: “I remember going to the feed mill to get feed ground for the cows”

This was typical of the comments. The “V”was for Vern Pike and his wife’s name was Alice Pike. They were friends with my grandparents. Because I was so close to my grandmother I considered her friends my friends. Mrs Pike was a regular at First Baptist Church in Otsego. My grandmother called her “One of the gal’s.”

            My stepfather had the Pikes 1947 Ford Stake-Bed truck!


his month our meeting will be back at the library. I think they having that Cheese Making program again, so I warn you it will be a rough job finding a parking spot. Before we went our separate ways, some of the guys started talking about how they got started in digging and collecting antique bottles. Then with great excitement they asked me to suggest that as our next meeting theme!

            Usually we have a little struggle finding a fresh meeting theme, but this time it just popped out! Then a couple days later, I was checking me e-mail spam folder and in it I found an e-mail from Vince. Vince had some great meeting theme suggestions.

            It made me mad to find my spam filter pulled the message from my inbox because it is not supposed to work that way. If the sender’s e-mail address is in your e-mail address book, which Vince is, his messages are not to be put into the spam folder.

            At work I am struggling to learn a new computer and I suspect that has something to do with the problem. To make matters worse, I am finishing this at the last minute (as usual) at home and I don’t have his letter here! Rats! Well Vince ol’buddy, maybe you can bring some of your stuff, or we can go with your suggestion for next month.

            I’m really looking forward to seeing all of you at this month’s meeting! If not, I wish each of you a very

         Merry Christmas!


The Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club
 meets at the main downtown Kalamazoo Library

315 South Rose Street. We meet on the third floor in the conference room.
This meeting is Tuesday, December 9th. Meeting starts at 7:00 pm.

 For questions

 e-mail prostock@net-link.net