Vol. 13 No. 1                                                                                                                                   September 2015
Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club News
Member Club of the F.O.H.B.C.

2015 SEASON STARTS 9-1-15

NEW NIGHT!   (Just for 4 months)

Hi friends! I hope you had a good summer! 

I am afraid I have some news, which may be 'good' or 'bad.' Like Fox News - I'll report then you decide!

Chuck called me the other day to tell me that the library meeting room bookings somehow got tangled up. A government thing I suppose. Of course we drew the short straw!

In other words, our room got booked for use by another group on the second Tuesday! I think they are having sensitivity training classes for bakers refusing to make same sex wedding cakes.

Wow! What a blow!

Don't despair, this is only for 4 months. In January we go back to the second Tuesday.

The second Tuesday has been our usual night for years and years! Well, starting in a few days we have been moved up to the first Tuesday for awhile.

I can tell you, I have been pacing the room wondering "HOW?"

It took a while for that to sink in, and by the time it did, I realized . . . I need to get a newsletter out A.S.A.P.!! This month starts out on a Tuesday!

This is going to be a hardship for some of you, including me. Our metal detecting club has its Executive Board Meeting on the first Tuesday, as does the Kalamazoo Coin Club. I am certain that will cost us at least two regular attendees.

I hate to miss the detecting club board meetings, but I am not a board member, but John Winkler is, and I am not sure about Ron Smith.

I know this change is going to interfere with the plans of others as well. However, at this point, it-is-what-it-is. Perhaps at this meeting we will find the total impact and we can talk about options. Had this happened just one year ago, I am certain it would have interfered with Chuck's ballet class!

I do have my notes from our last meeting, but they are not available as I write this. Not to mention, I am not going to have time to put together much of a newsletter.

I did get an idea in the shower this morning! Must be the homemade soap that I'm using. I thought about our club founder Ernie Lawson! Ernie and his dear wife Irene live in a large retirement village near my neighborhood. I figured if they have a meeting room available, we could have our meetings there, and the plus would be that Ernie could attend!

I called Ernie to run my idea by him, but he wasn't available. By the time I called again, a couple hours later, I had some time to think about it, then I figured it was too big a commitment for Ernie . . and he agreed.

On the bright side, Ernie and Irene are doing fine, as is their daughter Pat. I should also mention that Betty Short, Jack Short's widow, is doing well also! Betty lives at the same retirement village as Ernie and Irene. I also hear that Jack and Betty's daughter "Spring" is doing well!

Some of our newer members will not know those folks, but had it not been for Ernie Lawson, Jack Short and our beloved Chuck Parker, we wouldn't have this club! We are grateful to each one of them and their families!

Have you ever stopped to consider what the wife of a bottle digger goes through! Not pleasant!

Members in attendance at the last meeting:

Gordy Hubenet gave an enlightening presentation on Kalamazoo's own wonder-of-wonders ZOA-PHORA!

John Winkler displayed this beautiful crinkle finished olive oil pitcher.

John Winkler displayed this one pint Borden's dairy bottle.

This item was displayed by
 Kelly Bobbitt,

it is a local doctor's log book from 1949! A very cool item!

Scott returned from one of his relic hunting trips down south with some amazing finds!


We are anxious to know what you have been up to this summer!

I do know that the filming of the reality TV show, about privy digging, is ongoing. Also, I was told that Entertainment One is under contract to sell the series or as they say "Plug it in to cable.". Scott sent me some still shots from one episode they call a "Sizzle Film" and I see they are digging with a lovely young girl!

I posted one of the pictures on my Facebook page and my brother said, "Hey! I know that gal!" I understand she is from Montague and my nieces went to school with her! Her name (screen name?) Is Erin Buete and she was in Tooth Fairy II with Larry The Cable Guy, and also in Vampire Diaries.

So, I hope Scott Hendrichsen and Dan Hill can make the meeting and fill us in on all the details.

I have a Facebook friend who is a missionary in his country of Bangladesh. When he saw a picture of Dan, Erin, Bill and Scott all posing, standing in the same privy, smiling and holding old bottles, he asked; "What are they doing here please?"

So, I where do I start?

I just read that in India the government is building public toilets all around the country to help combat diseases. But, they are having trouble getting people to use them! As it is now, they would rather squat in a field! We are so blessed to live in America, my friends!

    I haven't done much to support my antique bottle hobby. After my 5 minutes of fame on News 3, I am still getting calls from people who want to know what their landfill is worth! It isn't like I wasn't warned!

Jack Short and Ernie Lawson were featured in a Kalamazoo Gazette article several years back in a bottle digging story. At the time they thought it would be a good idea to have a phone number included.

Jack told me, "Boy was that a mistake!"

The guys chased all over the area looking at bottles that were basically junk! At one point they started telling people how to sort out their own stuff, then call them back with a refined list.

One guy from Gobles called them with the names of a few embossed bottles. Jack and Ernie listened as he went through his assortment. Lydia Pinkhams, Dr. Kilmers, Mexican Mustang Liniment . . . well, at least the guy had some antique bottles, but nothing worth driving to Gobles to see.

The man continued . . . Hire's Root Beer Extract, Paine's Celery Compound, Dr. Miles Restorative Nervine, The Best Bitters in America . . .

OK, then the guys figured that they were part of some sort of prank! Surely someone in the local antique bottle community was having a little fun with them!

Jack continued with the conversation, but carefully.

Before long they figured this wasn't a trick and so off they went to Gobles! Sure enough the man on the phone had not one but two rare, square, amber, applied mouth, roped corners, Best Bitters bottles!

The guys were so excited that they got the owner seeing dollar signs! They told the owner that he did have a couple valuable bottles, so much that they couldn't afford them! They called upon their friend Joe Widman who came and paid the man a fair price!

I had one gal call me when I was out of the office. She left a message saying that she needed to sell a large collection of rare bottles worth 50 thousand dollars! I didn't call her back, I gave Chuck her number! I can't wait to hear how that one turned out.

Another lead I got from the Grand Rapids area, I passed on to Steve DeBoode. This fella told me he had several boxes of dug antique bottles "For Free." Steve and Elmer were at a big dig in Grand Rapids and any bottles they didn't want, they passed on to this guy! Now, Steve was getting them back!

I blame myself for not pulling a summer picnic together. I figured I would wait until we returned from our vacation in the U.P., then when the dust settled I would come up with a date and a newsletter. Well, the dust never settled!

We had a great trip up to Amasa to visit Deb's parents, then as usual we went across to the Soo and watched the ships. I had all my digging gear and three metal detectors but never used them!

And get this, half the streets and sidewalks were torn up in Sault Saint Marie! Yep, I must be getting old!

Digging Dangers

A great location for digging antique bottles is old farm dumps. These old private dumps were frowned upon back in the 1950's and 60's. It was during this time when the public was warned to use public landfills. The public landfills were easy to monitor and control and they seemed to be the best way to go in those early stages of our growing environmental concern.

Many of the old family dumps were covered over or hidden to avoid cleanup costs and then just forgotten. Many of these dumps were located at the banks of rivers, near swamps, ditches or ravines. These areas were picked for dump-sites mainly because this sort of land had little value if it couldn't be plowed or planted.

Fortunately for the owner of a metal detector, besides containing antique bottles, these old dumps

contain a large quantity of metallic trash, such as tin cans, barrel hoops, zinc jar lids, discarded farm equipment parts, and tons of other large metal items.

A friend and I were once digging a dump site that, for some strange reason, was filled with dozens of old baby nursing bottles from the 1870's and 80's. The problem was, right smack dab in our way was a Model-T Ford! Just try digging one of those out with a spade!

You can cover a vast area in your search for bottle dumps rather quickly with a metal detector. This is done by hunting in the all metal mode, while holding the search coil raised very high above the ground (about 10 to 12 inches). With the coil held at this height, the detector will ignore most small random items, even if they are on the surface, yet at the same time locate a large dump's debris field 3 to 5 feet deep!

When you walk onto a dump-site location, the detector goes off full-blast throughout the location! This will allow you to map-out the shape and size of the dump area. Once the dump's borders are located, the detector is then put aside and the real work begins.

With a large shovel, test holes are dug at four sides and, perhaps, in the middle. At each of these sample digs, an attempt is made to date the dump. We keep in mind that the first items uncovered are usually the last items that were thrown away. So, the deeper we go with our hole, the older our finds become.

Many people bring bottles they have collected from old dumps to my shop for appraisal. In their excitement, after finding a surface exposed dump, they gather up all of the unbroken bottles they can, then rush off to find the value of their new-found treasure ---only to be disappointed. The real disappointment comes when somebody with more experience finds the same dump, but knows enough to dig deeper!

In the truest sense, antique bottles have not been produced for over 100 years. The real antique bottles are the 'hand- finished' bottles made before the invention of the "Automatic Bottle Machine" which came along at the very end of the 1890's. Now that doesn't mean that all machine made bottles, (A.B.M. bottles), are without value! The rare dairy, soda, beer and even perfume bottles, which are A.B.M. bottles, can be very rare and very valuable!

Small farm dairies, on the other hand, made an extra effort to see that their refillable bottles were returned to be cleaned and refilled. With a small quantity to begin with, finding certain dairy bottles can be like finding a needle in a hay stack!

The old farm dump can be the right place to look! I sold a one-pint dairy bottle from Lake Odessa, Michigan, on E-bay recently for $375.00! Clearly it was not a hand-finished antique bottle, but it was a rare A.B.M. bottle and a dump find!

Two of my best friends, Ernie Lawson and Jack Short, were the ones who started the Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club nearly 30 years ago. And it was this dynamic duo who got me hooked on old glass collecting!

During their early digging days, after finding fewer dumps to dig, they came up with a great idea. This awesome brainstorm would have them taking a small row boat down a local river early in spring. The vegetation had been frozen back and packed down by the hard Michigan snow fall. With a lack of leaves and other vegetation, they were left with a clear view of the river bank.

As they worked along the river's bank, they would look for tell-tale signs of a dump. After a dump was found and permission secured, test holes were dug into the river bank to determine the dump's age.

On one occasion, an old dump dig was producing better and better finds! By the time the two bottle diggers started recovering medicine bottles, inks, and other great treasures from the Civil War era, they had dug a rather deep cave into the river bank. Every boy's dream is a treasure cave -- and Jack and Ernie had found one!

Of course, these two veteran bottle diggers were always very safety-minded, and they knew of all the danger signs to look for--- or so they thought!

Cave-ins are the first concern to a bottle digger, and being careless can mean death! Their experience made them good judges of the most dangerous soil types and conditions. On this occasion, the two felt very safe with their project. One reassuring factor was the tremendous root growth over the ceiling of the cave. Like reinforcing rod in cement, the root system held the structure firmly together.

The only annoyance from the roots, during this chilly spring dig, was the constant wet dripping. The water not only added to the muddy condition underfoot, but it soon soaked the diggers clothes!

However, the excitement of recovering one rare bottle after another made the cold virtually unnoticeable!

It wasn't until a few hours later, that the bottle diggers discovered that the wetness that soaked their hair and clothes was mostly from the root system of a well-established poison ivy patch! Makes you itch doesn't it? Their 'dream come-true,' turned quickly into a nightmare . . a nightmare which even led to hospital treatment!

Although my two friends can look back on their experience with smiles, they would be first to warn you that the dangers are out there! Cave-ins, as well as insects, like bees, wasps, poison spiders and now, even virus-spreading mosquitos, all guard the hidden treasure, so be very careful!

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, September 1st, 2015, Meeting starts

at 7:00 pm.

For questions

e-mail prostock@net-link.net

 Or call 269-685-1776