Wisconsin antique bottle and advertising club
When You Least Expect It…… A Union Grove Flea Market Find

When You Least Expect It…… A Union Grove Flea Market Find

(A Recipe for a Home Brewed Beer) by Henry Hecker

About 20 years ago, I was lamenting the time I had spent driving to a small, start up flea market on the Union Grove fair grounds on a nice early Sunday morning. After skimming past rows and rows of tables covered with dumpster fodder, I was startled to find a dealer putting out beer flats filled with hundreds of small old bottles of every description. Inks, perfumes, medicines, doll nursers, you name it. My arrival to this table was perfect as the boxes were just coming out of the trunk. A guy was selling a long time accumulation of small bottles, none more than 4 inches high, that had caught someone’s fancy for eye appeal, interesting labelling, with a few modern bottles mixed in. “$3 a piece!,” said the dealer. At that exorbitant price, I would have to choose carefully, but since I seemed to have a monopoly as a customer, I could take my time in making my selections. Click on the photo to read the full article.
Author: Henry Hecker
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Albert Albertson patented coiled spring stopper bottle - made by John Matthews

Albert Albertson patented coiled spring stopper bottle - made by John Matthews

Patent #36,266 Aug. 26, 1862

Albert Albertson and John Matthews are best known in bottle collecting circles for the widely used Gravitating Stopper closure which Albertson patented Oct 11, 1864 and John Matthews manufactured and marketed. Less known is the fact that two years earlier on Aug 26, 1862 he patented another stopper that was not widely adopted by soda bottlers. At least two Wisconsin soda makers used this type of closure and one or more eastern U.S. companies. It was a very impractical design. Unlike the Hutchinson closure it required a key (or a dirty finger) to depress the spring which would immediately close when released, making it impossible to drink from the bottle and difficult to pour. The blob also was a natural trap for dirt and bugs that would be hard to clean. It's easy to understand why it didn't gain popularity.

 

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Author: Peter Maas
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Henry W. Chamberlain Stoneware

Henry W. Chamberlain Stoneware

Made at the Milwaukee Stoneware Factory, possibly by O.F. Baker

In our collecting hobby, we sometimes encounter artifacts that seemingly are the only remaining evidence of a past person’s life. Usually with subsequent research from the name, location, or approximate date of the bottle, jug, or other item, we are able to assemble a story about the original owner. We do this by studying old city directories, business organization listings of the time, genealogies, census records, and land ownership documents.
Such is the case of one Henry W. Chamberlain of Sheboygan County Wisconsin in the 1850’s. I acquired a salt glazed jar marked “H. W. Chamberlain Sheboygan Wis” in the 1980’s from an avid auction goer in Menomonee Falls. Then in 2002, I acquired a decorated, salt glazed pitcher with the same mark from Bob Markiewicz that he had just purchased and I was able to seize the opportunity before Bob got too attached to the pitcher. Accompanying the pitcher was a 1997 letter from Janice Hildebrand, a well known author of Sheboygan area history.
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Author: Henry Hecker
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Charles Hermann &Co, Milwaukee Stoneware: Short History 1856-86

Charles Hermann &Co, Milwaukee Stoneware: Short History 1856-86

(With mention of his successor, Louis Pierron) By Henry Hecker

Charles Hermann was a Swiss immigrant with a factory on Johnson Street in Milwaukee. He commenced operations in 1856. His factory was strategically located near the Milwaukee River which allowed for the transport and unloading of high quality clay from Ohio and Illinois. His firm also procured some clay from Iowa as well as the clay found in Wisconsin is for the most part not fit for stoneware, only earthenware. (The known exception being Moser stoneware made of local clay in Wautoma, Wisconsin.) Following in the footsteps of earlier Milwaukee stoneware manufacturers such as Oscar Baker and the Maxfield brothers, Hermann was by far the most successful and prolific manufacturer of stoneware with a thirty year production period before making his stepson, Louis Pierron, a partner in 1882 and turning the business over to Louis completely in 1886.

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Author: Henry Hecker
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Article rating: 3.0
Bottles from Where the Sun Doesn’t Shine

Bottles from Where the Sun Doesn’t Shine

New discovery!

Barna recently unearthed a fantastic rare bottle from his hometown on a dig there. It is a citron colored quart beer bottle from Kenosha embosssed J. G. GOTTFREDSEN & SON BREWER KENOSHA, WIS in a slug plate with an applied lip. It appears to date from the 1870's. It has to rank as the most desirable of all known bottles from Kenosha. To a collector who specializes in Kenosha items it is a fantasy come true for Barna to dig it himself. The bottle was known to exist from a shard. This is the first intact example known to collectors.

Click on the photo to read the story about the dig.
Author: Barna Bencs
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Member Makes the Front Page of the Times!

Member Makes the Front Page of the Times!

Whitewater Historical Society Presentation on Whitewater Pottery on January 20, 2015

Okay, so it’s not quite the New York Times but being featured in the Mukwonago Times article was a coup considering the fact that Henry Hecker was not even the speaker. Speaker and expert on Whitewater pottery Kori Oberle gave a great presentation on Whitewater pottery at the Whitewater Historical Society museum located in the railroad depot building. The event was centered around a 45 piece collection of Whitewater earthenware that the Historical Society recently acquired. The collection includes some great examples of Whitewater pottery such as a foot warmer, a sponge decorated pitcher and some exceptional decorated pieces.  

Watch the full presentation video.

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The Great Waukesha Springs Era

The Great Waukesha Springs Era

A great new book on Waukesha mineral springs!

"The Great Waukesha Springs Era tells the story of a time gone by. From 1868-1918, Waukesha, Wisconsin was a center of the mineral spring water industry. Following the discovery of the healing powers of Bethesda Spring by Colonel Richard Dunbar in 1868, the mineral springs industry grew by leaps and bounds.
At first, people crowded the city to taste the healing waters. Then, as the rich and famous visited the city, it became a social center and a family vacation destination. It was called the Saratoga of the West. Finally, large regional and national bottlers established plants in the city.
This book, written by club member John M. Schoenknecht, tells the story of each of Waukesha's springs. Schoenknecht paints a picture of this fabulous time and the sad decline.
This Second Revised Edition of over 380 pages has over 60 new pages and hundreds of new photos from Mr. Schoenknecht’s private collection." Click on the book for a link to the ordering page.
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Otto Zwietusch

Otto Zwietusch

Otto Zwietusch was a prolific inventor and manufacturer of soda bottling apparatus and soda in Milwaukee from the 1860’s through the 1880’s in Milwaukee. His business sold bottling apparatus and equipment to soda bottlers throughout the US. Some of the interesting items used by his business include some great bottles, stoneware and bottling apparatus including these hand-hammered copper vessels which were probably used for bottling soda. The article tells the story of the man, his business and the artifacts he left behind.

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Author: Peter Maas
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A Bottle, a Murder and a Mystery – John Bollow

A Bottle, a Murder and a Mystery – John Bollow

Waukesha soda bottler John Bollow failed to return from a delivery run in July of 1889. Later his horses arrived at his home with the delivery wagon and there was blood on the seat. Fearing the worst, his family set out on a search for John. They found him propped up against a tree, shot in the head apparently with his own gun in what looked like a suicide. However, the blood on the wagon and missing cash told a different story.

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Colonel N.P Iglehart and the Oakton Springs, Pewaukee, WI

Colonel N.P Iglehart and the Oakton Springs, Pewaukee, WI

On May 13, 2014, the Pewaukee Historical Society hosted the MABAC monthly meeting in its visitor center building on the Asa Clark Museum property. Over 40 Society and club members attended and were treated to a presentation on the life of Col. Nicolas P. Iglehart, an early hotel and mineral springs owner in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. The presentation by Henry Hecker, a long-time member of MABAC, was a culmination of his research on the Oakton Spring Water Company and Oakton Springs Hotel which entrepreneur Iglehart ran in the 1870’s.

The presentation covered Iglehart’s illustrious public and private life with special focus on his last four years of his life in Pewaukee. Henry showed a number of artifacts related to Oakton Springs including a stereopticon photo of the hotel and a 3 gallon jug stenciled with “Oakton Springs Water.” A special treat was the fact that the Kirley family, the current owners of the Octagon house in Pewaukee were in the audience. Colonel Iglehart lived in the Octagon house during his stay in Pewaukee. The Kirley’s were thrilled to learn about Iglehart and shared some of the ghost stories of this incredible home.

A number of Historical Society members were able to augment Henry’s research during open discussion. Finally, the most amazing part of the meeting was the appearance of a previously unknown 3 gallon Oakton Springs stoneware jug brought to the meeting by the Sampsons, Pewaukee residents. The jug is a family heirloom that has remained in Pewaukee for almost 150 years and will someday likely find a home in the Museum collection.

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Author: Henry Hecker
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Blossom's Badger Ale

Blossom's Badger Ale

Even by national standards, the Blossoms Badger Ale bottle is simply a fantastic example of an early American ale. It was made by Lancaster Glass Company in New York around 1849 to 1851. This article tells the story of the discovery a new Blossom’s Badger Ale variety, how it was hunted for many years and finally acquired and restored by a club member. One intact variety, one restored and some shards prove that there were at least four varieties of embossed bottles used by this large and successful brewery. It seems likely that there are still others waiting to be discovered.

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Author: Peter Maas
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M. Kom Superior Mineral Water / Great Western

M. Kom Superior Mineral Water / Great Western

One of Wisconsin’s earliest embossed soda bottles

When this bottle was dug in Kenosha there was some speculation that it could be a Wisconsin or Illinois bottle. It seemed improbable given the color and the fact that it has the look of an 1840’s bottle. When another example turned up in Ashippun Wisconsin northwest of Milwaukee research efforts intensified but still no hard evidence was found. An article in the May-June 2014 edition of Bottles & Extras by Tod von Mechow speculated that it could be Wisconsin. Definitive proof finally surfaced in an advertisement in an obscure all-German Milwaukee newspaper. The March 1850 ad identified it as Michael Kom’s Lemon Mineral Water which he bottled on Huron Street in Milwaukee. This just might be Wisconsin’s earliest embossed bottle. Others from about the same time period include the Taylor & Bothers’ cobalt sided soda and Blossom’s Badger black glass ale. Click on the photo to read the full article.
Author: Peter Maas
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L.M. Pierron Stoneware – The Mystery Canteen

L.M. Pierron Stoneware – The Mystery Canteen

A recent Julie’s Antique Auction catalog featured a rare miniature salt-glazed stoneware canteen flask as the cover lot. The canteen measures about 3” tall and is marked “Compliments of G.M. PIERRON” on one side and “A HAPPY NEW YEAR 1894”. It has a heavy orange peel glaze one side. It was in mint condition with the original cork, chain attaching it to the handle and red white and blue ribbon. The unique features of this piece created the perfect storm of collector interest. It was made by Redwing, it is associated with the Pierron Stoneware Company, has a great glaze, is dated, rare and mint.

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Author: Peter Maas
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The Wisconsin Glass Company

The Wisconsin Glass Company

Wisconsin's Second Glass Company 1881 to 1886

The Wisconsin Glass Company began when the Chase Valley Glass Companies 1 and 2 reorganized into a single combined entity in September of 1881. The company made various types of bottles, jars and window glass until May of 1886. Typical base embossing found are:

WIS GLASS CO MILW (often with a mold number ranging from 1 to 40 or A to T)
WIS G CO MILW
WIS G CO
WIS GLASS CO MILW WIS

The Wisconsin Glass Company would later open as the Cream City Glass Company. This article takes an in-depth look at the company's history, its leaders and the products it produced.

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Author: Peter Maas
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Wisconsin Stoneware Bottles

Wisconsin Stoneware Bottles

There are over 150 different varieties of stoneware bottles from Wisconsin - far more than any of the surrounding states. Why were they so popular here? They don't have a maker's mark, so what potteries made them? None have survived with paper labels so it's unclear what products they were even used for. And why did many bottlers use both glass and stoneware bottles at the same time? The earliest marked stoneware bottles from Wisconsin are from the 1850's and by the 1880's they began to quickly fall out of favor. By the turn of the century, they had become obsolete. Why did that happen? This article explores these and other questions about this fascinating category of early Wisconsin bottles.

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Author: Peter Maas
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The History of Infant Feeding

The History of Infant Feeding

by Karen McEvoy

The history of infant feeding is quite interesting. Babies were usually breastfed. Infrequently an attempt might be made to feed an infant artificially (by hand) from a bottle or from an animal's horn with the tip cut off and a bit of skin or rag tied to the neck. Pickled cow's teats were used as nipples. Hard nipples of glass, pewter, ivory and occasionally silver were common before the rubber nipple. In 1845 the first rubber nipple was made of black rubber that tasted bad, smelled bad and went to pieces in hot water. Babies were fed pap from discarded bottles. Pap consisted of whatever they could lay then hands on which they thought was nourishing. Sometimes ground up nuts mixed with water, other times bourbon or beer. Fish when available was mashed into a liquid pap. Animal milk was not used very often, due to the fear that the infant would take on the characteristics of the animal along with the milk. Occasionally an infant was suckled directly from a goat, donkey or cow. A bottle was used as a last resort and even then only one bottle sufficed. It was simply rinsed out, reused and eventually discarded.

 

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