Vol. 8 No. 12                                                                                                                                  November 2010
Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club News
Member Club of the F.O.H.B.C.


State of the Club

        Hi gang! For months I have been telling Chuck that I am just too busy to do a news- letter but, for some reason, I still let him talk me into pushing on with another letter.

        I just want to open my heart and tell you what things are looking like from my view point. What I am talking about, of course is the club. As most of you know, having summer meetings has been an experiment this year. In some ways it has worked out better than I thought it would. We have averaged about 10 to 12 people at the meetings! That's not a lot of people, but that is about what our average has been for our fall through spring meeting cycle. The people who argued against having summer meetings said that people are too busy collecting and digging to find time for summer meetings. Well, it hasn't turned out that way.

       Here is the problem. While we could always figure on anywhere from 8 to 12 people at the meetings in the past, we could also figure on another 10 to 12 more paid members who couldn't make it to the meetings. Sadly, those people seem to have vanished! At the summer meetings we are seeing nearly all the paid members show up, but that is simply not enough to support just higher costs of the meeting room. These lower numbers will really spell disaster when it is time to try to put on a bottle show!

       Chuck tells me that the library has cut us a deal and they are going to extend the old price through 2011. We have paid through 2011. We still need to know if you support the club!

       I do feel somewhat responsible for some of this problem. Chuck has asked me month after month to put a reminder in the newsletter for everyone to pay their dues, and I kept on forgetting. At the last minute, after the hard copies are already mailed, I think of it! So when I am sending out e-mail notices, saying that the newsletter is online, I remember to put a note about the dues in the e-mail text . . but who really sees that?

      I have to hand it to Chuck -- he has been working hard to keep things going! I told him that one of the problems I have with doing the newsletter is that I am no good at taking notes! Also, I rarely have any digging or collecting stories to share. For 15 years I did the metal detecting club newsletter, but each month the club secretary would give me detailed notes, which really made my job easier.

       Every month Chuck supplies me with notes for which I am very thankful! How about you? Do you have some tidbit of news to add to the newsletter?

Dues are Due!

      Lest I forget again, please show us your support by paying your dues. It is only $10.00 for the year, and more than we need your ten dollars, we need to be encouraged by your interest in keeping the Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club alive and well!

Please mail your dues payable to: K.A.B.C.

Mail to:

Chuck Parker

607 Crocket Ave.

Portage MI 49024







Opt. Phone_______________________________________________________________



In the note part, you could include what category of bottle collecting interests you most, like flasks, inks, medicines etc.. Also you could include any kind and loving suggestions that you may have.

Last Month

           Dee Cole was the one to leave us all with our jaws dropping! Our diggers have been searching for that special un-dug privy loaded with pre- Civil War bottles. Sometimes we have a tendency to forget our roots as old fashioned dump diggers! The way that I was told the history of the bottle club, privy searching came of age only after it had become so hard to find un-dug dumps. Well, Dee seems to have found a spot that is a good old-fashioned farm dump, until now un-dug!

      Dee found a very interesting half-gallon 'GEM' fruit jar, which at first glance looks cracked. But, if you look closer, you can see that what looks like a crack, is a seam-like line, which starts near the base and then winds its way around and up the bottle, going almost to the top! This is an example of crudeness that I have never seen before! It had to make the workers at the glass factory do a double take!

      That Gem fruit jar was a gem of a find indeed! But that wasn't the only good find that Dee had to show! Dee also dug a 1-gallon brown and cream top whiskey jug that is picture perfect! It is the classic little brown jug! How many times have diggers uncovered the neck and handle of one of these, only to be disappointed to learn that was all there was left. Very nice stuff, Dee! Better keep looking over your shoulder, Dee! I think it was Chuck who asked if you needed any help digging this site!

       Wayne Marvin purchased a large collection of old bottles somewhere, and he has been bringing in a few to show each month. This month it wasn't his bottles that had everyone scratching their heads in wonder, it was a two pound blob of glass that he bought for a buck or less! I really don't know what to call it, but it is mostly pink glass with striated lines of white glass in the center. It is certainly worth a buck as a conversation piece!

       Chuck and Scott went on their annual pilgrimage to Alabama to for some Civil War relic hunting. They always do much better at this than I would expect. I have been in the metal detecting hobby for over 40 years and I know what the odds are of a couple Yankees wandering south and finding anything other than trouble!

       This time the guys found a real good place to run their detectors and they found some very neat relics! The best relic was dug by Scott. It is the unexploded shell from a Parrott Gun Cannon! The Parrott gun was invented by Robert Parker Parrott, a West Point graduate. He resigned from the service in 1836 and became the superintendent of the West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, New York. He created the first Parrott Rifle in 1860 and patented it in 1861. Parrotts were manufactured with a combination of cast and wrought iron. The cast iron made for an accurate gun, but the iron was brittle and would suffer fractures. Parrott's idea was to add a large wrought iron reinforcing band around the breech area where the shell was loaded to give it additional strength. This wasn't entirely a new idea, (some earlier cannons were designed this way), but the method of securing this band was the idea that allowed the Parrott to overcome the weakness of these earlier models.

      This principle was used a lot in a machine shop where I worked with great success. The large collar was slid over the cannon shaft while the color was red hot and the cannon barrel was cool. Then, the gun was turned while workers poured water down the muzzle, allowing the band to attach uniformly. This made a very strong barrel and these cannons could be fired for hours without any problems . . . many times they were! By the end of the Civil War, both sides were using this type of gun extensively.

      The type of Parrott shell that Scott found was one that was supposed to explode but it didn't! The shell was fused and the length of the fuse determined when and where the shell would explode! Wow, one could be hurt by one of these things! I will never understand war . . but I do understand that sometimes it is unavoidable. The only future war that we know the outcome of, is the last one! I am so glad to know that good defeats evil! But I am glad I won't be here to be involved!

     So what are the dangers of handling one of these unexploded Parrott shells? Even if the odds are a million-to-one that this thing would go off, it is a frightening thought!

     "To use a more familiar illustration, the power of the 10-inch rifle shot at the distance of 3,500 yards, may be said to be equal to the united blows of 200 sledge hammers weighing 100 pounds each, falling from a height of ten feet and acting upon a drill ten inches in diameter." This is according to the Washington Republican from August 12, 1863.

     There was an advanced Civil War relic collector in Chester, Virginia, who searched for Civil War relics. His name was Sam White and he had become very well known in the hobby. He was looked upon as one of the leading experts at disarming unexploded Civil War projectiles and had done work for many museums.

      Union and Confederate troops lobbed an estimated 1.5 million artillery shells and cannonballs at each other from 1861 to 1865. As many as one in five were duds!

      Some of the weapons remain buried in the ground or river bottoms. In late March, a 44-pound, 8-inch mortar shell was uncovered at Petersburg National Battlefield, the site of an epic 292-day battle. The shell was taken to the city landfill and detonated.

      Black powder provided the destructive force for cannonballs and artillery shells. The combination of sulfur, potassium nitrate and finely ground charcoal requires a high temperature - 572 degrees Fahrenheit - and friction to ignite. But the older it gets, the more unpredictable it becomes!

     White estimated he had worked on about 1,600 shells for collectors and museums. On the day he died, he had 18 cannonballs lined up in his driveway to restore. Part of the shell that exploded, killing him, was found to have ripped through a porch 1/4 mile away!

      Thankfully, Scott did not bring this item to the meeting! It gives me shivers to think that Scott and Chuck drove all the way home with this thing in their truck! Can you imagine the Indiana police finding a smoking truck frame alongside the highway one night? Wow!

This Month!

      The theme bottles for this month are A.C.L. bottles! You don't have any idea what that means? Don't feel bad, neither do I! I just jotted it down at the meeting then I looked it up when I got home! It means Applied Colored Label. The whole idea started in about 1936 to solve a real cost and time wasting problem. Bottles that were reused, like soda bottles and dairy bottles, had to be washed to be reused. I worked in an old fashioned cider mill in the mid 1960's and one of the things we did was reuse the cider jugs.

      In the mill we had a wash room where we had to super clean the bottles! You could find anything from mold to dead mice inside the bottles! On the outside of the bottle you needed to remove the paper label because it would never survive the cleaning in readable shape. We had to use super heated water to make the bottle sanitary and also the hotter water made it easier to get the label and label adhesive off. I remember one time we dropped a hot jug onto the hard clay tile and the glass was too hot to break! I'm serious!

     The idea of painting labels onto the bottles was part of the history of silk-screen printing. I have a four color screen press and from time to time I screen print t-shirts. The idea of squeezing paint or ink through a pattern on a screen is used more that you can ever imagine! It is all around you! Everything from the package for your instant potatoes, to the huge lettering on the Coke machine that you slip your dime into! Dime? Yes I do remember!

     When they first started screen printing labels on soda and milk bottles, they used an oil-based paint and it took an hour or more to dry. Then they developed a special ink, similar to what I use today, that is a form of plastic that is dried and cured with heat. This stuff is sometimes referred to as pyroglaze. The stuff I use on shirts is called Plastisol and it is tough as nails! I have some shirts which have survived 1000 washings!

    So if you have any painted label sodas, milk bottles, beer bottles bring them to the meeting!