Volume 20  Issue 2                            Written By Allan C.Holden                                  February 2022      

       I Hear That Show Train A-Comin’!
    But, will that train make it to the station?

“Will there actually be a bottle show this spring? If there is one, what will it look like?”
   That was a question John Pastor posed to me before our  November 2020 meeting. Of course we all know, sadly, that 2021 show was indeed canceled.

        So, we are now moving forward  with our 2022 show plans. However, it actually seems like the Covid  monster is still casting its evil shadow over all our lives.

         Just before our last club meeting I received a message from Club President, Rob Knolle, saying he and Jean had been exposed to the covid virus. Since then, I learned Rob and Jean have tested positive!

         Then, just one week later, my wife, Deb was telling me she lost her sense of taste and smell.  It took three days for her to get a Covid test which, it came back  positive!
Now my granddaughter has the bug as well!!

        I think Madison picked it up at school and it followed her home. So, now my wife tells me,
 “You need to be tested.”          Of course my response was  “Why?”

        I had the virus garbage way-way back in December of 2019. That was when very little was even known about it.
        I have customers from Detroit and Chicago into my place often, especially before Christmas. I am fairly certain one or more of them brought me the nice surprise.
Even though I was deathly sick for over 4 weeks! I knew nothing about being in quarantine, so, I just kept going to work!
       With no more than just getting out of my car and walking up three steps . .  it totally wiped me out!  I was eating NyQuil cold and flu jell-caps like candy! I stayed at my repair bench all day, and as folks came in the front door, I held out my hand in the universally understood “STOP”  position, then, speaking out loudly as they entered,
“I want you to know I am real sick!”
Everyone would respond, “Don’t worry we already had that!”       

      To this day, I wonder what they actually had, (this was in the thick of flu season.)
So, I know of little good my being tested would be. My friends, if you live in southern Michigan right now, you have been exposed! How are you able to avoid it?

     When the vaccine came out I got right in line! I got two Pfizer and the booster! I started encouraging friends to get the shot.

      Boy! Do I ever regret doing that! Suddenly I am hated by even my own family!
At this point, and with this new strain, and perhaps more to come, I am convinced nobody is going to be able to avoid getting it. I do believe the results will be better for those who were vaccinated, especially if they were in frail health to start with.


Notes by: Mr. Vincent Grossi
Health concerns:

Tim Hayes is currently scheduled to have surgery around the 14th of February, 2022.
Rob Knolle and his family dealing with Covid virus.

Kevin Siegfried posted an ad for the club's bottle show on antique-bottles.net web site. Everyone should check out the web site: https://www.antique-bottles.net

Thank  you Kevin!
    Vincent Grossi is wanting to find a back issue of the Antique Bottle Glass Collector Magazine for November 2019. If any one has a copy of the magazine please bring it to the next club meeting on February 8th, 2022. Vincent's e-mail address is: vincentg@juno.com or cell phone: 269-716-8069.
        Vincent is also collecting any unwanted bottle magazine issues to be used as advertisements for the club's information and bottle shows.

    Thank you Vincent for contributing to the newsletter and the meeting note taking! If anyone would like to contribute an article or just some thoughts,  or perhaps a request, I welcome your help!

We once again had a good turnout, despite our fearless leader Rob Knolle, at home laughing in the face of death!
    My trusty sign-up sheet has recorded for-time-and-eternity the following names.
Greg Stonerock, Len Sheaffer, Kelly Bobbitt, Kevin Siegfried, Vincent Grossi, Melissa Hayes, Tim Hayes, Ron Smith, Ed Nickerson, Tim Janssen, Dianne Janssen, Al Holden.
    With Rob being absent, Vice President,Vincent Grossi bravely stepped forward.
    It reminded me of the time King Saul took his personal armor which included his massive King’s shield, heavy sword, and dressing the little shepherd boy, David, for battle against the mighty Goliath.
    David was overwhelmed by the weight of the King’s armor, so he removed it, picked up five smooth stones from the brook and killed the monster before him!
    So it was with Vince! He stepped forward, without knowing beforehand about Rob, and he did a great job!
    At the meeting, I shared information that Rob had sent to me regarding his phone conversation with John Pastor about the April bottle show (which is this) in part:

          “Al, my conversation with John went well.  Most of the information Vince had requested can be found on the file I sent via email.
     John told me that he provided the club ( Chuck Parker) with copies of that show spreadsheet every year, and for every show.  Also... if you can share these points with the group;
1.    Contracts are not sent to vendors until January.  John will be sending those shortly.  “He may have sent them already”   
2.    Hotel arrangements are usually handled at the end of January.  John thinks we should NOT have a hospitality room at hotel due to ongoing covid concerns. 
    He recommended that we use hospitality money to buy pizza for vendors at the show for lunch.  That would also save us money.
3.     John also recommended that we do not have the display room this year.  We only had 3 displays last show and I (Rob) was one of them. That would  save us some money used on that room and prizes.
4.     John is chair of the event.  There is no "contract" with him.  He used to get 1/2 the profits.  He told me that a few years ago, he told chuck he thought that it was too much and John suggested it be reduced to 1/3. Which is where it has stayed.
5.      I invited John to come to a meeting.  He said the drive was too long for him to realistically make it.  He said if we're interested in meeting in GR he could possibly make it.
     He did also say if you, I, or Vince have any further questions please call or email.  In my opinion after talking with him I am much more confident about the show.
           I know there may be more questions.  But I think it's pretty well in hand.
            Please tell everyone how disappointed I am not being able to come today. Hopefully we will not get sick. This covid thing is maddening!"

     Rob and Vincent, thanks for digging into this stuff guys! This is why I am not in your place, I just wander around like a lost puppy, this is good information! Good job, Rob, Vince & John!


    You bet! Kelly Bobbitt had a nice selection of bottles on display. One was an interesting crown cap, clear- soda bottle with strong embossing which reads “CUBA KOLA”. There is only a small bit of information about this company, and about the product which I found posted in Wikipedia;
“Cuba Cola is a cola-flavored soft drink produced in Sweden, bottled by Saturnus AB. It was introduced to the market in the summer of 1953 soon after cola drinks had become legal in Sweden, beating Coca-Cola by three months in Sweden.”
    It must have a big following! I say that because there is no shortage of advertising collectibles! Much of what I found is written in Swedish. It looks like you can still order the Kola Drink!
    Kelly also had one of his bottles, which had a tin screw cap, in clear glass.
    Had I spotted this in a garage sale, I wouldn’t have given it a second look. But, because this is all about a newsletter I have learned something worth passing along.
           The bottom of this clear machine-made bottle is embossed, “Speas Company U SAVIT JAR”
On the shoulder of the jar it reads “Speas Vinegars”
       The Speas Vinegar Co was founded in 1888 in Kansas City, Missouri, by John Speas and two partners. At one point Speas was the largest producer of vinegar in the United States. The U-Savit Jars were made by Owens-Illinois Glass Co. from 1928 to World War II. The Speas Vinegar Co was sold to Pillsbury in 1978.
         The wide mouth vinegar jars, when they started producing them in the late 20's and on through World War II, were intended to be saved and re-purposed into canning  and for putting up preserves and dry storage. They were made to fit a standard zinc canning cap with glass lid and rubber seal.
    I contacted Doug Leybourne about the U SAVIT bottles and he confirmed their intended use.
        One thing is certain, they are hot on the collector’s market! I found jars like Kelly’s are priced from $40.00 to $90.00. I found where the U SAVIT half gallons have sold for a couple hundred dollars, and some gallon size bringing were bringing $500.00 or more! 
    On one of the online bottle  forums, they said the large ones are scarce today because many were re-purposed into lamp bases! My-oh-my, What you don’t learn in these newsletters! You better check for embossing on the bottle’s bottom!
    Kelly had three half-pint milk bottles with applied-color-labels “A.C.L.” which I thought are very cool.  But, Kelly was quick to point out to our group saying, “I don’t know if these are real, or perhaps fantasy pieces.”  
    The three little bottles are each the school-size ½ pint, paper cap milk bottles with Railroad labels. One says “Burlington Route. Way of The Zephyr Rocket.”
Another reads, “Santa Fe, Route of the Chief.” Another reads, “Property of the Northern Pacific”
    The authenticity of these bottles are in question out in the collecting world. When someone creates any doubt without proof in the collectors minds, I feel they could be as guilty as any counterfeiter . . .  if they are reaching a conclusion without knowing the facts! With the growth of the Internet a lot of fools have become experts!
           Because railroad collectibles are so popular right now, people suspect it is an easy thing to toss railroad labels on little plain-Jane milk bottles just to feed the market and dupe the collectors.

    My experience is with Great Lakes nautical collectibles. I have plates, cups and saucers form the S.S. Aquarama and the Milwaukee Clipper. The golden age of beautiful Great Lakes Steam Ships was from the 1850's until the 1950's. This was also the age of mass production where  goods could be made in great quantities and for low prices.
       They put the names of their ships on everything they purchased! If I made a list of just the crockery items alone it would fill a dozen newsletters!

    Imagine; you are a dairy producer, and you discover the the Wisconsin & Michigan Steamship Company is using 80 to 100 gallons of white milk, chocolate milk, 80 single serving creamers, and 40 pounds of butter EVERY DAY on just one ship in their fleet, the S.S. Milwaukee Clipper.
          So, you are now thinking, “how do I get them to buy my products?” You put your thinking cap on and walla! It is all very simple, you  go into the advertising business! Instead of ordering every single glass milk bottle labeled “Holland Dairy” have some say, S.S. Milwaukee Clipper.

   Just like that, you have a valued and happy customer!
    As far as Kelly’s railroad bottles are concerned, schemers are a little careless. I have been involved in a hobby/business of screen printing for 40 years, which is how almost everything is printed. Even a Coke machine looks like a white box until the screen printer gets his hand on it!
    Applied Color Labels on dairy bottles had to be tough-as- nails to withstand case wear and machine handling. They always used special bulletproof baked on enamels which most  schemers would shortcut. I would say the A.C.L.’s  on Kelly’s bottles look right to me.

    What a shame that we must give up so much to criminals! I have many Civil War, Arrowhead and even Marble collectors who have given up! They tell me more antique copies have been made than the originals!

    One of the companies I represent makes an excellent metal detector popular in the middle east for prospecting. In Africa they bought up everything in the European market and started searching the U.S. Market. Soon these detectors were finding their way unto the black market at a 500% markup.
          Soon a Chinese firm started making counterfeit examples! They looked perfect . . . but they were truly junk in every other way. 

At one point I took a real one that I had sold originally, back in trade. I put it on e-Bay. Soon a buyer asked "How do I know this is real?"

        On the real detectors there is a hologram with a hidden image, which can only be seen using a special “fake-detector lens.” It is a special lens supplied to us dealers . . . and I lost mine!  I called to request another one. After hearing my story the factory rep said "You don't need one. Look at the serial number sticker, how did they spell Minelab?"  Mine was perfect!
He told me the counterfeiters spelled the company name Minilab. Folks, in His mercy, God made criminals stupid.

    Tim Hayes and Melissa brought in a wooden bottle stopper with a cork-shaped base. The stopper’s top is a little animated carved wooden man  holding a bottle, There is a small lever on the back which is used to bring the bottle to his mouth for a swig! It is pretty cute!
 One of our newer members, Greg Stonerock, keeps finding those neat items we have all cherished adding them to our collections! It is fun to revisit some of the hobbies great bottles!
   Can you say Swamp Root? Can you say, Dr. Kilmers? Covid would not even be an issue today had Dr. Kilmer not been around to rid our great grandfathers of kidney and liver disease in his day! 
    Greg has one of the all time great Swamp Root Kidney, Liver and Bladder Remedy bottles with the embossed kidney front panel. The Dr. Kilmer’s product didn’t survive the 1907 Pure Food and Drug act. However when Dr. Kilmer’s brother purchased full ownership of the company in 1892, the word cure was changed to remedy. I would imagine both the words cure and remedy were poo-pooed by Uncle Sam. Greg’s bottle is a sparkling, beautiful, attic-clean example in light aqua with a tooled-top with light twisting in the bottles neck! A real keeper! Greg also has a tiny Dr. Kilmer’s sample bottle.
    When I was a boy in the mid 50's my father was route supervisor working for my Grandpa’s Michigan Cottage Cheese Plant. Often I could ride with him in the big truck, and from time-to-time I got to pass out cottage cheese sample cartons in the stores.

   One of the product lines the company took on, was a ready to bake pizza! Folks, this was uncharted territory! Most Michiganders had no clue about pizza!
    We set up little electric pizza ovens and let folks take samples! It was always a hit! We sold out hundreds of pizzas in no time flat!

 Can you imagine breaking open a sample bottle of kidney cure, taking a swallow, and then wanting to buy a large bottle? It had to make you feel much better real quick!!
        Greg also displayed a nice Nehi Soda bottle with Applied Color Label. 
    The company was founded by Claud A. Hatcher, a Columbus, Georgia grocer who began bottling ginger ale and root beer in 1905.  At one time, Nehi offered more than 10 flavors:
          Chocolate, Root Beer, Lemonade, Wild Red, Blue CreamOrange, Grape and  Peach.
    The popularity of the drink, in this era, is from the character Cpl. Walter "Radar" O'Reilly, the company clerk on M*A*S*H. Radar's favorite beverage was Grape Nehi. 
  Joel Widman
      One of the first attempts at getting me interested in coming to the Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club meetings, was made in the mid 1980's.
    I had been aware of the antique bottle collecting hobby, because of its close connection to metal detecting.
When I first started selling Garrett Metal Detectors in the late 60's,  stocking treasure hunting magazines was top on my list. Frankly, at that time no local news agency's stocked them!

 Back then, we had a number of magazines to choose from, today there is only one title left, American Digger.
Some early titles were, Long John Latham’s Lost Treasure, Treasure Search, Treasure Found, Western Treasures, Eastern Treasures, and others. In every issue they featured about 80% metal detecting  stories with 20% antique bottle stories.
    In the mid-80's two of my detector customers, and the founders of the K.A.B.C., Ernie Lawson and Jack Short, started luring me into bottle collecting by sharing their most interesting stories.

     One story I will never forget. (I think this event even predated the club slightly.) Jack and Ernie were traveling weekends around the Kalamazoo area out digging dumps. Dump digging was the early catalyst of the club, as many of the diggers bonded in the excitement of finding and digging ancient dumps.
 At some point the Kalamazoo Gazette ran a neat story about bottle digging, it featured our two heroes! Actually, Jack at that time worked as a Gazette photographer so the article was complete with photos galore!

      One of the interesting twists was the promise they made in the article, of free appraisals of antique bottles, and their phone numbers were published.
Ernie and Jack both started thinking, “Boy! Was that a mistake!”
I can relate to that, when people see my big display of antique bottles, they started driving in with truck loads of JUNK!

      Finally, after being burned out from looking at 2 ton’s of worthless junk, a call came in that was very suspicious. The guys started vetting the calls, and asking the caller to thin out the non-embossed. Also they helped them to reject the newer stuff then call back with a shorter list.

     That was when they got a call from a man in Gobles, MI who had just found a few bottles when he was putting in a drain field in his back yard. 

(Jack and Ernie took me to that location years later and it was like holy ground! I wondered if we should slip out of our sandles!)

    The first bottle descriptions the man gave on the phone, at least fit the description of “antique,” so they knew this was a caller worth listening to. The bottles he mentioned were interesting finds, but not uncommon. The last bottle he described was actually a pair of bottles. When the caller described the last two bottles, our experts threw a flag down on the play!
    Surely one of their fellow diggers was having a little fun with them . . . and they didn’t find it the least bit funny!
     This caller could have described any one of a dozen rare medicines, flasks, inks, whiskey bottles and got the guys mouths watering . . . . but no, this guy is telling them, over the phone, he has two “Best-Bitters-in- America”  bottles . . . the Holy Grail of antique bottles!
     “Who is this?” they asked.

      The man identified himself, and his location. When the guys started to realize they weren’t being bamboozled they headed for their car!

       When they arrived they introduced themselves, listened to the man’s story, and went inside to see the bottles. I remember Ernie told me that he trembled when he was holding the bottle. One of the two bottles was slightly damaged, and the other was perfect.

        After admiring the bottles and visiting with the man, Ernie and Jack told him the bottle was very rare.  Because it is a nationally known and rare bottle, it is the most desirable to Michigan collectors. Because it was from Kalamazoo, it would be most highly prized locally . . . but they simply couldn’t afford it!
           But! they knew a local collector who would be willing to pay a fair price, and, be would also be able to afford to do so! That man was Joe Widman!
Some of the details have become a little fuzzy at my age, so I reached out to my friend Mark Churchill.

      Mark told me the owner decided to keep the whole bottle, but agreed to sell Joe the cracked one. The three bottle images on page-one of this newsletter is of a Best Bitters bottle. These bottles have what is called, “Braided Corners” where they are very fragile and are known to be weak!

    The lady of the house decided it was beneath her to sell Joe a dirty bottle, besides it being a cracked one, so, she took it to the sink to rinse it of and it broke!  The owners felt so bad! So they sold Joe the good one!

     This was in the late 70's and Joe paid $800.00 for the bottle, which was a very fair price at the time.
    I am not positive, but I think he also salvaged the broken one. The mystique of the beautiful Best Bitters bottle continued to grow as did the value of these beautiful rare bottles!

     A few years later, Mark Churchill invested in one that came up for sale. He paid $2,200.00 for the bottle. A while later Mark got into a financial bind, and had to sell some stuff. He sold that Best Bitters to Joe Widman, who turned around and sold it again for a much higher price!
So, Joe gave Mark a surprise bonus! That was Joe!

    Joe was always very kind to me, and I even managed to get him to a few bottle club meetings. I had regretted I couldn’t get him to more because I knew he had so much to contribute to our younger collectors. Every time I mailed out a newsletter I knew without-any-doubt - whatsoever, Joe would read it!
    Often times he would see a bottle mentioned in the newsletter, one that was at our meeting, he would have questions about tiny details, or to offer some information. 

    Joe would always show up at my display at the bottle shows and visit. Joe was one of those guys Scott Hendrichsen refers to as a “High Roller!” He loved the rare and most unusual bottles. At one point, not too long ago Joe was at a meeting and he mentioned he had 3 Best Bitters. At that time one had sold for $17,000. I know they are even north of that in price today.
         My greatest regret is that many of our club members didn’t have a chance to meet Joe. I say regret because he had so much to contribute.
       Let me just say, Joe isn’t the only absent treasured member within this club who really knows his stuff! We have a number of hidden treasures, guys with great gifts, talents and knowledge which they hide . . instead of investing in others. I say that with high regard and respect. (Just my two-cents worth)
    Frankly, I was even behind the loop about Joe’s passing, I read about it in a letter to Antique Bottle & Glass Collector by, Gordy Hubenet, and that was in the January issue!
          Joe Widman passed away peacefully on Saturday October 16th 2021 at his home. Joel was born in Kalamazoo, MI on July 15th 1944 the son of Nelson and Evelyn Widman.
Joe’s wife Pauline survives. Joe worked for many years at the Upjohn Company. Joel proudly his nation in the United States Army.

      The Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club
Meets At the
 Otsego Historic Society

Meeting date is
February 8th
 at 7:00 pm
The Museum is located at 218 N. Farmer St. Otsego, MI
Meeting starts at 7:00

Phone 269-685-1776
    Web Address

The Meeting theme is Valentine’s Day