Questions Month Year

Questions June 1999


Good afternoon,
I have a bottle that I found in the Susquehanna River in about 2 feet of water near an island. I'm not a bottle collector but I am an Indian artifact hunter, so I have no clue about this one except it's in perfect condition which leads me to believe it was probably washed from the banks this winter.  I have found bottles before there, old alcohol bottles I guess but always having been damaged. Well here is the description.  clear glass- 3 7/8" tall 1 3/8 wide-- it has two sets of measurement scales, the left side has what looks like the English pound sign with #'s 2 4 5 with half marks not numbered. These are ~3mm apart the right side cc at top with 10 20 marked and half lines in between.  The center of the bottle just before the neck has an upside down English pound mark next to a lower case i.  It looks like the bottom and top were connected separately because the line on the side does not match the top half and the bottom has it's own line.  the bottom has either a 1u 110.  There is a  decorative looping apron around the neck where the neck and bottle meet. The opening at top is ~6mm and the hole is 3mm.  I hope I gave you enough information.  This island was used by both the native Americans as well as the Europeans when they arrived.  Some of my artifacts have been dated to 6000 BC.  It would be interesting to see what time period and what was actually in this perfect specimen. Thanks for taking the time out and helping folks like me out. J.L. Holt

Your bottle is a prescription bottle. It is close to 6000 years newer than your other artifacts, probably dating to the turn of the century. You can check the mold seam to see if it runs up and over the lip or stops before the lip which indicates a hand tooled finish to the neck and lip. Prescriptions are written in combinations of Latin and English abbreviations. The system used is known as apothecary weights. Your bottle probably looks similar to the one shown at the right. The symbol, you describe as a "pound," is the symbol for ounce it looks much like the number three with a fancy top. The quantity is either expressed in numbers, usually Roman numerals. In the example on the right are shown three"iii" or three ounces. The scale on the left of the bottle shown has the numbers 1, 2, and 3, indicating the capacity in ounces. The scale on the right side of the bottle in the one shown has the "cc" marking and the numbers "30", "60", and "90". This is because one ounce equals roughly 30cc. Your bottle is a smaller one ounce size, I believe.

As a matter of interest, the Rx symbol or superscription is an abbreviation of the Latin verb recipe, which mean "take thou". Today, prescription pads usually have the Rx symbol printed right on them. Today, the name of the drug appears first. At one time it was list of ingredients which the pharmacist would compound into the required medicine. Digger

I have just found an old bottle dump behind my house and I don't know the 1st thing about bottles. I have a few interesting ones and all that I have found have the seam ended before the lip. , I have one  just plain clear bottle with the seam ending before the lip on the bottom it says Dr. S B H & CO and in the middle of the bottom there is a number 69. I could sure use some info. on whether these bottles have any value, how to clean them and how I would go about selling them. The most interesting one is light green, has 12 faces to the sides and has raised lettering that says, Dr. S.A. TUTTLE BOSTON MASS. Any help that you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

Sounds like you have found a turn of the century dump. The Bottle marked Dr. S.B.H. is a Peruna bottle. Peruna was a top seller around 1900 and was a true cure-all. One testimonial says, "I am happy to say that my little boy, five years old, is cured of deafness by your Peruna." The medicine was for catarrh, cough, weakness, consumption, grippe, dyspepsia, stomach and bowel trouble and a host of other ailments. Dr. Samuel Hartman first started in the patent medicine business in the late 1870s with his LA-CU-PI-A. Around 1879 he began making the Peruna as well as another medicine MAN-A-LIN. He moved to Columbus, Ohio from Pennsylvania. Where he successfully sold a bitters he had purchased from Benjamin Mishler, Mishler's Herb Bitters. By 1905, Peruna, which Hartman preferred to spell, PE-RU-NA, was perhaps the top selling brand in the country. One reason was a voluminous advertising campaign and another was it was 28% alcohol. A bottle of Peruna was made from about a half pint of cologne spirits, 190 proof, with a pint and a half of water, adding a little cubebs for flavor and a little burnt sugar for color. The cost to Dr. Hartman was about 15 to 18 cents for a bottle which sold for $1.00.
Your other bottle, is a product for Man or Beast. Samuel A. Tuttle was the proprietor. He moved from stable owner in 1883 to medicine manufacturer in 1885. The Tuttle Elixir Co. was established in 1894.
The Peruna bottles sell for $2-5 and the Tuttle's probably would bring $10-12. As to cleaning them, soap and water is about all you can do. If the bottles have stain, it cannot be removed except by professional bottle cleaners. Ebay is a good source to sell them, but you might just enjoy them as they came from behind your house and are a part of its history. Digger

Hi, my name is Paul and I am a new bottle collector. I have been checking online for bottle auctions and one thing that really puzzles me is bottle prices. The three books I use for bottle pricing are Kovel's Bottles Price List, Jim Megura's Official Price Guide, and Hugh Cleveland's Bottle Pricing Guide. Many times I'll find a bottle that I think is a real deal because one book prices it around $100. The next book will say that it is a $2 - $4 bottle. A good example is a Atwood's Jaundice Bitters that I just purchased. All three books have different prices that differ widely. Any insight would be very appreciated!!!
Thanks, Paul Davis

Great question Paul. First, unlike the coin collecting hobby, there is no Red Book of values. The price guides you mention serve a useful purpose. They list a wide variety of categories to try to satisfy everyone. It can't be done, but it appeals to the general public. There are just too many different bottles for any one book to list them all. Secondly, we need to examine how these price guides arrive at their prices. The Kovels, well known and reputable in the antique world, have been publishing their bottle price guide for more than 20 years. Several times, I have met them at bottle shows where they come to get bottles from dealer's tables to photograph and include in their next edition. They typically use the dealer's price tags together with their expertise and sources to arrive at a price. In many cases, this is an "asking" price. Dealer's knowledge of what they sell varies as their asking prices. Auctions on the other hand represent selling prices, but auction conditions, which as many of us know, can cause people to behave unpredictably. Auction prices are almost always higher than prices at bottle shows . With regard to the Atwood's Bitters example, critical information may have been left out of the description of the bottle (such is the nature of these type of guides). Was the bottle machine made, pontiled, damaged, stained or labeled? I can believe that over the years Atwood's have sold for both $2-4 and for $100. I will have to agree with you that I still find bottle pricing a bit of a mystery. Even the experts can't always predict what a bottle will sell for. The better the bottle the more true this is. The truth is a bottle is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. Now that you bought that Atwood's for $4.00, it's up to you to find that one person who'll pay $100.00 for it. Digger
Also see
Determining Values on this web site.

I have a cousin bottle collector.  Wants info on a bottle DR. D. JAYNE'S   TONIC VERMIFUGE     84 Chestnut St Phil  A     (pontil  -  wooden mold) glass  =  light green milky glass  possibly clear at one time     4 3/4"  x  2" Thank you   Linda Longcore     


Dr. David Jayne first began advertising his medicines when he was in Salem, New Jersey in 1836. His first product was his Indian Expectorant. A few years later, 1838, he introduced his Tonic Vermifuge (worm syrup). The earliest bottle for the vermifuge is square and does not bear the 84 Chestnut St address. Your bottle, although you do not say so, is probably oval in shape. This was the second container for this product and dates to the 1850s. The product was one of his most successful, the other being the Expectorant. The brand was continued by his son into the 1870s and was still being produced well into the 1900s. Your bottle was almost certainly not made in a wooden mold, but rather an iron one. The glass might seem wavy as though it had been in contact with wood. These so called "whittle" marks result from the introduction of very hot glass into a cold mold. The color was aqua and the milky color is stain, accumulated from years of being buried. His is a dug bottle. The value of this bottle in this condition is about $15-20. Digger



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