American Bottle Auctions will present Part 1 of the Don Dwyer collection of bitters and soda bottles in online auction #70, starting on February 26th and ending on March 7th. Part 2 will be announced in the coming weeks. Part 1 will contain about 250 bottles, nearly all from the Dwyer collection but to include an assortment of related go-withs. Bidders can register and bid at the American Bottle Auctions website: www.americanbottle.com
Don Dwyer has spent decades putting together a collection of bitters that had just about every example made for and sold in the West, said Jeff Wichmann of American Bottle Auctions. In addition, his interest in Western soda and mineral water bottles added greatly to his huge entire inventory. Because he liked to collect color runs and made sure he had most variants, we will be presenting this collection by dividing it up so auctions 1 and 2 will both have bitters and sodas.
Just a few of the better bottles in Part 1 of the Don Dwyer collection will include the following:
V. Squarza bitters bottle with applied mouth, in a beautiful cobalt blue (S 170). The product was trademarked in 1865 and was possibly called either a Hygienic or Selene Bitters. Its only the second one ABA has ever sold and its condition (9) is near perfect.
Dr. Wonsers USA Indian Root Bitters bottle in a chocolate amber (W 146). Dr. Wonser Western bitters bottles are hugely popular with collectors, due to their amazing embossed design and the letters U.S.A. with the doctors name. This one also grades 9.
Orizaba Bitters, J. Maristany, 1870s. Not much is known about J. Maristany or even where they were located, but this bottle is definitely Western, as noted by the curved Rs. There are only a few known in any condition, and this one grades well at 8.5+.
Bryants Stomach Bitters (Cone) with applied top, sticky pontil mark. The Bryants Cone might be the most iconic Western bottle out there (one sold in 2000 for $67,500). There are maybe 10 known in any condition. This one had a crack that was resin repaired.
Cassins Grape Brandy Bitters, circa 1866-1873 (C 78). This is a second variant example in a beautiful yellow-green color. It appears unblemished, but there is an in-making area on the lip that created an imperfectly formed top. Still, it grades well at 8.5.
Lacours Bitters with Sarsapariphere on the reverse, with applied mouth, in a yellow-green (L 3). The lighthouse-shaped Lacours Western bitters are very popular. This example is about perfect, but with some unusual appearing areas. It is graded 8.5+.
Don Dwyer began collecting antique bottles in the 1960s when he was checking out some old Chinese camps near his home in Oroville, Calif. As the owner and founder of a lumber business, Don found some old bottles and other items and became hooked. Working in the forest gave him the chance to visit old lumber camps while he kept his eyes peeled for bottles and other artifacts.
Back then, he collected various types of bottles, but he said when Jeff Wichmanns bitters book came out in 1999, titled Antique Western Bitters Bottles, he decided to concentrate his collection solely on bitters. His goal was to try and get every specimen in the book and he came very close.
The bottles Don accumulated often came in different variants, applied top or tooled top of the same bottle, color runs and at the top of his list were squares. Included in the auction is his run of Renzs Bitters and Rosenbaums. From the very rare and valuable to the grouping of Lashs Bitters in every shape and size, Don knew what a collector had to do to collect every specimen.
His desire to collect sodas and mineral waters was a valiant one. Where most Western collectors go after examples made in San Francisco, Don had a varying number of pontiled bottles that were made in the East and sent out West for a Western company. Once again, color runs were an exciting part of his soda collection, as he has different colored examples of the same bottle.
Don will still maintain his vast collection of Marysville bottles. His home is located in the forest, and with the fires that have occurred in recent years, he wont miss what seemed a yearly evacuation to save his bottle collection. He looks forward to taking it easy and doing some hunting and fishing and maybe find some gold (he has a keen interest in mining placer gold).
We have to say, we were excited to hear from Don when he first called our office and said he had made his decision, Mr. Wichmann said. I asked him at least a few times, Are you sure you want to sell your collection?, and each time came the same answer, Yes. We hope you are excited as we are, and we look forward to presenting this Part 1 of the Don Dwyer collection.
When the auction begins, bidders can view all lots in a full-color catalog (available for free upon request) or at www.americanbottle.com, starting on February 26th. People can bid by computer, phone, mail or fax. Previews are by appointment only, in the American Bottle Auctions showroom, located at 915 28th Street in Sacramento. To book an appointment call 800-806-7722.
Standard auction rules will apply. American Bottle Auctions does not do callbacks but, rather, has a 10-minute rule that applies to bids at the end of the auction. In essence, every bidder has a last opportunity to make a last winning bid. An online printable color catalog will be available soon, and all of the lots will be photographed and displayed in pictures and a streaming video.