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Beautiful, rare and vintage bottles perform well at Holabird's June 16-17 auction
Chas. F. Holton (Olympia, Washington Territory) half-pint coffin whiskey bottle in mint condition, one of only a handful known, circa 1886-1889 ($3,596).

RENO, NEV.- An 1800s H. T. Tobin Western pumpkinseed pint whiskey flask, produced for the Walla Walla Saloon when Washington was still a territory and not yet a state, sold for $4,840 at an auction held June 16th-17th by Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC, as part of the 53rd annual Reno Bottle Show & Auction, held at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno. It is quite possible that this is a new auction record price realized for a clear Western whiskey flask.

The two-session auction featured a premier selection of rare and vintage bottles – headlined by the Ralph Van Brocklin collection of Western whiskey flasks and the Rod Stock Hutchinson bottle collection. The event was sponsored by the Reno Antique Bottle & Collectibles Club and showcased many bottles and small antiques, pre-1940 collectibles, advertising and memorabilia.

The Walla Walla Saloon pumpkinseed pint had the highest opening bid of any bottle in the sale: $3,750. It was in mint condition, with just a couple of isolated light clouds in the reverse panel. “I consider this to be one of the top five Western pumpkinseed flasks,” Mr. Van Brocklin said. “It’s unique in this size, from a great town, and is embossed with both ‘Territory’ and ‘Saloon’.”

Nearly 400 lots came up for bid in an auction that grossed a little more than $120,000. Most of the bidding action was online, as about 350 people participated via the platforms,, and eBay Live. Absentee bidding was also intense in the weeks and days leading up to the auction, while live bidding and phone bidding were less of a factor.

“The auction went extremely well, with prices that exceeded expectations,” said Fred Holabird of Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC, based in Reno. “We had to be clever and rely on some unique marketing methods to reach new clients, but we did find them and many were active participants. Bidding was heavy, interest was there and prices were higher than expected.”

Following are additional highlights of the auction. All prices quoted include a 21 percent buyer’s premium.

A George Schneider (Black Hawk, Colo.) shoofly (coffin) pint whiskey bottle, clean and mint and fewer than five examples known, recorded the most online hits in advance of the sale before finishing at $2,480. Also, a scarce and fun cobalt blue flycatcher bottle with the original hanger, reportedly purchased by the consignor from The Crystal in Virginia City, Nev., garnered $527.

A beautiful and clean Chas. F. Holton (Olympia, Washington Territory) half-pint coffin whiskey bottle in mint condition, one of only a handful known, made circa 1886-1889, went for $3,596; while a Pioneer Saloon (Leadville, Colo.) half-pint true coffin whiskey bottle, boasting the fancy “P” and “N” embossed lettering and having a pretty amethyst coloration, topped out at $2,057.

An Arlington half-pint pumpkinseed whiskey flask (M. A. Lindberg, Prop., Bakersfield, Calif.), in mint condition and in the pretty orange amber color shading to light yellow amber in the sides, hit $2,108; while a Pure Old Sour Mash Whiskey (Thos. R. Hiebler, Montrose and Ouray, Colo.) pint pumpkinseed bottle, less than five known and with a gorgeous amethyst tone, made $2,604.

An Old Crow / Prevost & Phillips (Ouray, Colo.) half-pint shoofly (coffin) whiskey bottle, clean and in mint condition, one of fewer than five examples known, changed hands for $3,472. Also, a John Shier Pharmacy (Delamar, Nev.) bottle, clear in color and maybe the largest one known at 7 inches tall, one of probably fewer than a dozen extant, made circa 1894-1906, sold for $2,480.

Goldfield (Nev.) seltzer bottles proved popular with bidders. Sold were a Goldfield Bottling Co. clear seltzer bottle, possibly the only one known, circa 1905 ($1,488); an H. G. & Co. etched seltzer bottle, also clear and in mint condition, one of the very rare Nevada seltzers, hit $1,240; and a Daniel J. Timothy custom etched seltzer bottle, one of the great rarities, rose to $1,240.

Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC’s next big auction is right around the corner – a three-day event slated for July 8th, 9th and 10th, online (at the previously mentioned platforms) and in the firm’s gallery at 3555 Airway Drive in Reno. Phone and absentee bids will be taken.

The Saturday, July 8th session will start at 8 am Pacific time, and is packed with 729 lots in the following categories: saloon, cigar and tobacco; bottles and insulators; gaming; numismatics, coins and Western belt buckles; railroad and express; philatelic and postal history; and tokens.

The Sunday, July 9th session, also with an 8 am start time, will feature 656 lots of mining items, to include mine lighting devices (safety lamps, carbide lamps, oil wick lamps and more); mine signs; explosives; assay; mining artifacts; and ephemera (which will be sorted by city and state).

The Monday, July 10th session, also with an 8 am start time, will comprise 613 lots, in these categories: Native Americana and Western art (beadwork, baskets, pottery, rugs, jewelry, points, tools, ephemera, kachinas, sculptures and Native & Western art); taxidermy; general Americana (miscellaneous, sorted by city/state, dealer specials).

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