A rose by any other name?

Glasses from the Southern US States (FL, GA, AL, MS, LA) are relatively rare; a quick search of the sales database turned up only 10-20 from each of the States listed above. If I were pressed to name a liquor dealer from each of these States, I’d maybe come up with Sprinkle or Moog from FL; Loeb, Lion & Felix (LA); Arey (AL); and Rufus Rose from GA. Rose gave us the “Four Roses” brand name that was later sold to the Paul Jones Distilling Co.

Rose was originally from CT but he settled in Atlanta, GA. When GA went dry in 1907, he moved his operations 100 miles up the road to Chattanooga, TN., but he also maintained sales outlets in Jacksonville, FL. and New York City. Rose glasses that show up for sale most frequently are Ask the Revenue Officer glasses bearing the Rose shield, as shown below. “Frequently” does not mean common; I’ve only seen a handful of examples of each of these.

Three-city Rose glass

Rose glasses from Atlanta are very rare and typically in iffy condition. All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I was interested to see a Jacksonville/Atlanta glass list recently.

The glass was listed by gator-ben for $49.99 – not an insignificant amount – but was quickly bid up into the three-digit range. Unltimately, it sold in a bidding war between 1***j and 5***a for a whopping $510.00.

gator-ben also did pretty well on a Forefather Corn “porc” from Rose:

This is a porcelain bottle-stopper that was have been used on the back-bar of a saloon or hotel bar. The porcelain would have a cork glued to it originally, but these usually get lost over time. The example above sold for $420.

Here’s another pricey glasses, especially considering the poor condition.

Although it’s difficult to tell form the listing photo(s), the glass reads “COMPLIMENTS / OF / (line) / DALLAM (slanted) / (line) / DISTRIBUTING CO. / OLD GOODS EXCLUSIVELY / PADUCAH KENTUCKY“. The glass was first listed back in 2015 (left) for $44.99; the seller id back then was mantiques1946. It closed without a bidder and did not relist until this month, the seller id now andrewshane. The seller first offered it for $194 and it closed without a taker (no surprise there), then relisted for $164. I figured the glass would slowly circle down the relisting drain until the initial offering price stood at $0.99, but someone grabbed it at the $164 mark in a buy-it-now (big surprise there). Um. Okay.

Here’s one to watch.

It’s a plain-text “HAYNER” with a dodgy gold rim, but it caught my eye because the seller is offering it with a box that I initially thought the glass must have come in. On closer examination, however, the box is far taller than the glass and probably held a mini sample bottle of Hayner hooch. An interesting find in itself – the auction is currently at $26.06 but will likely close much higher.

These taxing times

As I write, the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the US now stands at 20,109. 

I haven’t been buying as many glasses via eBay as I once did, so it was quite a shock to see that the final tally for a recent win came with a hefty $27.77 sales-tax bill. Yikes. eBay has been crying wolf re impending sales tax legislation for years now and I’d become desensitized to the frequent warning emails, so I was completely oblivious to the fact that they had begun collecting sales tax for my home state as of April 1. Yikes again. Sales tax is going to seriously impact the glass budgets of many collectors and may force some to rethink how badly they want that extra glass for the display case.

This past couple of weeks on eBay has been a story of extremes. I keep two different eBay watchlists under two different id’s and both are nearly maxed out (the watchlist limit per account is 300) because there is a ton of pre-pro glass offered for sale at the moment.

In the last post, I showed a Father Time glass with a viral conspiracy theory theme, and voila, princeweesl (better known to old-timers as bluroc) lists a more deadly strain that sold on April 1 for a $224.49.

princeweesl has been responsible for several high-end glass sales in the past couple of weeks, including a couple of hand-painted enamels that sold for $432.99 apiece. Phew. Nice if you can get them.

In case you’re interested, the past 4 weeks saw 262 glass auctions close, 94 of these failed to attract a bidder, the average price of glasses sold was $45.23.

While we’re on the subject of the weesl, here’s a dated souvenir glass that he offered for $24.99, but the auction closed with no bids. The glass had a gold label and came with interesting background info: “This glass was very mysterious to me until my very helpful wife (research librarian) found out that: Thomas Rowe was the president of the American Flint glass workers union. He retired in 1914 and the members evidently begged him to stay in his post, so this was made either to celebrate/toast his retirement, or to get him to return. Its quite an interesting piece with many cross collectable categories!

The glass didn’t ring any bells with me, but when I was entering the auction into the sales database, I was surprised to find that bluroc had one won (there is only one other example in the database, so it’s a rare one) for $9.99 back in September 2011. Except that this one had no gold fill. Hmmmm… maybe the “very helpful wife (research librarian)” is also very helpful when it comes to application of paint brushes…..

Then there were the head-scratcher auctions; glasses that would not have sold for an opening bid of $5 or a month or so ago but that are now hotties. The Hill and Hill (Rock Spring Distilling Co., Owensboro, KY) was first listed by artswhirld back in February for $100. It’s a highball, a size that has typically been treated with distain by most pre-pro collectors. Presumably it’s too close to beer-glass size to appeal to the specialist shot collectors, although highballs make for a great collecting niche given their rarity and low sales prices. Not surprisingly, the glass went unsold, despite a nice provenance lifted from the pro-pro database. The glass relisted in March and sold a day later in a buy-it-now for $125. Go. Figure.

The Old Keebros is a semi-regular on eBay, typically selling in the $15-$30 range. The one above listed at $75 and sold for $125.69. Huh??

The A. E. Shields “The Whiskey Man” glass is a) from MN and b) a dose glass, two characteristics that usually spell the kiss of death so far as glass values are concerned. Yet the one above, which was listed by sparrowantiques, was binned for $99.99. Huh?? Maybe I’m missing something….

At the other end of the spectrum we have the Caron’s XXXX below – a stellar example of quintessential display-case-worthy pre-pro glass that was listed by napa-capecod for only $35 and then took a lower-price offer on it!! Whoever bought that got a steal – it’s a great glass.

napa is apparently closing out an old collection that he’s had packed away since 1994 – it’s worth bookmarking him, especially if you’re interested in New England glasses. He’s already listed and sold several previously-unknown glasses. The only downside is that shipping is $8 per glass and he does not combine shipping. And, oh yes, don’t forget to factor in f*&#^$’ sales tax.

That’s all folks – stay home, stay well. See y’all on eBay.

Coronavirus on our minds

As I write, the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the US stands at 400. 

Schools are closed, bars and restaurants are closed, theatres are closed. Since the only effective way of avoiding getting infected with the dreaded bug is avoiding all contact with humans or anything that other humans might have touched (the virus can live on surfaces for 72+ hours so you should quarantine all incoming glass purchases for 3 days, minimum), suddenly there’s a lot more time to talk glass. And coronavirus. 

Here’s the coronavirus:

Remind you of anything?

This is a Father Time glass from Philip Freiler of Elgin, IL. Note the similarities between the background on this image and the virus. Note also that Father Time was the companion to the Grim Reaper and that Freiler’s death occurred shortly before the Spanish flu pandemic killed in excess of 17,000,000 people between 1918 and 1920, which is the year that Prohibition began. Clearly this glass is a message from the past. The Spanish flu was obviously a Government-engineered virus designed to distract attention and allow the eighteenth amendment making alcohol consumption illegal to be rammed through Congress. This time around, it’s a Government-engineered virus designed to distract attention and allow bills making gun ownership illegal to be rammed through Congress.

If this conspiracy theory goes viral (no pun intended), remember, you read it here first….. but the essential truth is that everyone is very distracted at the moment.

These past few weeks have been notable for the number of interesting glasses selling in buy-it-nows and special deals offered by sellers. The latter have becoming an increasingly popular way for sellers to keep stock moving on eBay.

The Grave’s and the Old Comstock shown below both sold in $25 buy-it-nows. The Grave’s is a rare San Jose glass. The Old Comstock is a previously-unlisted UT glass from Salt Lake City – a rare find.

The Uneeda was a little pricey at $59.99 but a nice bold label makes for a great display glass. The Pete Cooper is another unlisted glass and a classic pre-pro design; it was grabbed in a $45 buy-it-now.

The Foust lug at left was snapped up for $175, which is a good buy for a LUG, even though a relatively common black-on-white Foust. The one on the right was an even better deal – it sold in a seller private offer for only $117.50. Last but not least is a 1901 Louisiana Purchase Expo glass with superbly detailed graphics – binned in a private offer for $36.

Hunted in the Wild award goes yet again to eBay old-timer nuffbarn, who found the A.D. Germanus glass below at an antique show. This is a rare Portland glass that I’ve never seen listed on eBay. If it looks familiar, it’s one of the first drawings in Barbara Edmonson’s Historic Shotglasses. Thanks to Brad for sending in the pic!

Some stats for the number crunchers: in the past four weeks, 170 pre-pro glass auctions listed on eBay. 57 closed without bidders; average price of the glasses that sold was $30.70.

Here’s hoping you all stay hale and healthy and our thoughts should all be with those on the front lines of healthcare, often with little or no effective protection from the virus.

It’s a wrap!

Q: How do you turn a super-rare, once in a lifetime pre-pro shot glass find into a run-of-the-mill glass in just a few seconds?

A: Take the original wrapper off.

Back in the day, numerous manufacturers were producing the cheap thin-walled shots that we know so well by the tens of thousands and in various different sizes (see a brief history). Some glass houses additionally offered the option of custom-labeling them with a vitreous compound designed to mimic acid-etching. The Huntington Tumbler Co. of Huntington, WV referred to this a “snow enamel etching”. After the label had been applied and adhered to the glass, the glasses were individually wrapped in a thin piece of paper and then boxed up by the dozen or stacked one inside the other (don’t try this at home – it’s only safe to do if the glasses are all the same size), packed in straw, and sold by the gross.

This a cardboard shipping box that originally held a dozen wrapped I.W. Harper fluted shots. They were mailed to a hotel in Philipsburg, PA. The hotel bar owners had unwrapped all 12 and two had been removed sometime during the pre-pro years. Luckily, the wrappers from two had been stuffed into glasses rather than discarded and survive to this day. 

Fast forward 100+ years and there is precious little evidence of the original wrappers or documentation regarding how the glasses were prepared for shipping. The recipients were usually saloon owners, hotel bars, liquor dealers, or individuals who had received them as rewards for a mail order; presumably they were immediately unwrapped and placed on a bar or in a curio case for display. In my 35+ years of collecting, I’ve only ever seen two examples of a glass with its wrapper still pristine and intact (although I’ve had several near misses), which makes them rare beasts indeed.

This Humphrey & Martin Bouquet Whiskey is an example of a near miss. This glass was one of 4 glasses fresh from the wrapper that I picked up on eBay back in 2005. They were found in an estate sale of one of the Humphreys in New Jersey, just across the Delaware river from Philadelphia. The seller had unwrapped all four in order to photograph them, but luckily he had not discarded all of the wrappers. The wrappers are extremely thin and brittle. I’m not sure if the one shown here was brown originally or if the color reflects its antiquity.

Why are wrapped glasses so rare? There a two main reasons. The first is that the wrappers were thin and not designed to provide protection for a century or more. Boxes containing the wrapped glasses were often left forgotten in damp basements where water may have dripped on them, causing the cardboard boxes and paper wrappers within to rot (the glasses didn’t fare too well from such exposure either; the mineral deposits left behind may change the crystal structure of the glass and cause cloudiness). Wrapped glasses stored in a dry place were also at risk from the natural aging process. Over the years, the thin coverings may become very brittle and prone to disintegrate when handled (as in the example above).

Assuming that a wrapper does survive, then it’s at great risk of being removed and discarded by dealers and collectors. It’s easy to understand the dilemma when faced with a wrapped glass. Collectors want to display their glasses, and the display value of a glass wrapped in a grubby and most likely crumbling paper wrapper is close to zero. Heck, let’s just get rid of the wrapper and put the newly-minted glass on display. Totally understandable (I’ve done it myself with one of the Newvilles -see below).

There may be a stash of these wrapped Fred Kette glasses still out there in eBayland, so keep your eyes peeled. I first learned of them back in 2002 when Bill Armstrong (eBay oldtimers will remember junkmoney’s antics) traded me one after he told me that he had bought them on eBay but had taken the wrappers off upon receipt. Sigh. Another lot (above) listed in 2008 – this time the wrappers stayed in place and remain so to this day.

Dealers, on the other hand, just want to figure out what’s under the wrapper ASAP and then photograph it for listing on eBay. Again, who can blame them. Hopefully you get the idea, wrapped glasses are, um, RARE (pay attention dammit!!!!).

So you can imagine my excitement at two recent listings by eBay seller warren8426. Both were for Geo. Wissemann (Sacramento, CA.) glasses, one a Kentucky Standard No. 1, the other a Kentucky Standard O.K. (O.K. as in “Old Kentucky”). Naked Wissemann glasses in mint condition have been showing up for many years now, which is always a hint that a wrapped-glass treasure trove may exist somewhere, but the seller was kind enough to note in his listing “NEW OLD STOCK – REMOVED IT FROM IN ORIGINAL PAPER COVER THIS MORNING AND WASHED IT.”

One of the Kentucky Standards shown still in its wrapper.

Swoon.

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve been buried in work and had completely missed the fact that both listings had included a photo of a wrapped glass until being given a heads up by a pre-pro regular (in case you’re wondering, the background in the image above shows a display case holding the seller’s CA goldrush pipe collection). I immediately contacted the seller.

Warren (warren8426), who is based in Stockton, CA., recounts that “these glasses were found by an Estate Sale company in Pebble Beach, CA. They came from a huge mansion on the 18th hole on the Pebble Beach golf course. They found a straw suitcase in a storage room that had about 30 wrapped shot glasses and 10 trays. I missed that sale. They sold 7 trays for $50 each and maybe one shot glass for $20. I met them at their next sale and arranged to buy what was left.” He was kind enough to send me photos of one of the trays that he had acquired, plus group photos of the glasses that he had managed to track down.

Needless to say, I purchased one of the wrapped “No. 1″s from him and two of the wrapped “O.K.”s, which more than doubled my lifetime collection of wrapped glasses.

Right now, you’re not doubt wondering what the value of a wrapped glass is vs. an unwrapped glass. Since they’re super-rare, you’d think that they would come at a premium price but that’s sadly (or not sadly, depending on your perspective) not the case. There are one or two specialist collectors I know who would give their eye teeth to get their hands on a wrapped glass, but they’re the exceptions – because it always comes back to display value for the majority of collectors. The display value of a wrapped glass is practically zero, but the value of an honest-to-God, minty-mint glass lying hidden beneath the wrapper is so much more. Personally, the history and hidden mysteries of a wrapped glass are priceless. I still have a couple of eye teeth left if anyone has one or two for sale….

Returning to the glass that I mentioned having removed from the wrapper (above). Back in 2002, a couple of mint-condition Newville Pure Rye Whiskey glasses from C. B. Wagner of Carlisle PA. were listed for sale by eBay seller pneumatic. Bob Rowe, the seller, is local to the area. The Newville glasses are classic pre-pro with a highly attractive design and a gorgeous gold rim. Bob was offering them in their original wrapper, along with a corkscrew, a couple of letterheads from C. B. Wagner, and a copy of Wagner’s liquor license (the Harper label in the grouping below was offered in later listings).

I’m not sure of the exact details of the find since they came to me from a collecting colleague in MA who had heard from a collecting colleague in AZ, who had heard it from his wife’s friend’s hairstylist – or something like that. The gist of the story was that Bob had discovered over 100 of these glasses in an attic in Carlisle, all neatly wrapped, stacked by the dozen, and packed in straw. I tried contacting Bob a little while ago through eBay for clarification but have yet to receive a response. I ended up buying several from him, two of which are shown below.

One wrapped and one denuded Newville (mea culpa).

Bob has sold at least 30 of these glasses on eBay to date but I’m sure he has several more on hand. Bookmark him because he continues to list them periodically as buy-it-nows for the outrageous sum of $28 (the last one to list was back in November). Be warned – you’ll be forced to take the corkscrew and letterheads also. If you’re a serious collector, buy two and take the wrapper off one of them, just for the pure joy of seeing a gold-rimmed glass in truly mint condition. Yes, I know it’s destroying a little piece of history, but I think that there are enough these particular wrapped glasses still in circulation that it may be okay.

I’ll close by saying that in the past 30 days, 248 pre-pro glass auctions closed on eBay, 92 went unsold. The average price of glasses that did sell was $44.44. Happy hunting!

Hosting hiccups (SOTW December 27, 2019)

At the beginning of the month, the server that www.pre-pro.com sits on had the silicon equivalent of a brain-fart and scrambled its filing system which, in technical terms, is very, VERY bad. Since I had been lead to believe that the site was backed up automatically every week, I wasn’t too worried about the fact that it would be offline for a few hours while it was being moved to a new server (many thanks to Bruce Silva, Jack Sullivan, and several others who pinged me to give me a head’s up that the site was down).

When the site rose like a phoenix from the electronic embers, it appeared to be missing a few feathers and the timestamps all read 2014. A few frantic tech support calls later, it transpires that the site exceeds the auto-backup limit by several tens of gigabytes and had never been backed up, so it had been reset to the date when I first signed up with the hosting company. Urgh.

Long story short, it’s taken a while to get things up and running again; apologies to all for the inconvenience. I reloaded all prior “New and Shotworthy” posts today so they all have today’s date (I’ll try and fix that), but they are ordered by original posting date.

So. eBay.

In the past 28 days, at least 186 glasses listed, of which 108 went unsold. The average price of those that did sell was $43.94. The numbers are perhaps misleading in that they obscure the fact that good glasses are flying off the e-shelves as fast as they can be stocked, and I’m not sure that this is purely a Christmas-related blip in the data stream. Coming months will tell.

The more interesting offerings included a Hayner Harvest Home, which is the rarest and most valuable of the known etched Hayner variants. It has sold for up to $350 in recent years. diggerdaveb picked this one up in an auction lot from Glass Works Auctions; it sold in a buy-it-now for $195.00 after sitting for several months in his webstore; I’m surprised no-one picked it up earlier given that it is also a George Truog original design.

Los Angeles Brewing Company gave away a number of sampler glasses that are a little too big to be considered a shot and a little too small to be considered a beer, all of them featuring historically-significant California Jesuit missions. There were at least two series of mission glasses. The glass below is from one of the rarer series and fetched a respectable $224.50.

I’ll finish this update with two Jack Daniel glasses. JD has a world-wide following and I regularly get emails requesting glasses from the pre-Prohibition era. There are few to be had, however, and the price on any original JD glass is creeping forever upward. They sell for nose-bleed prices that casual pre-pro collectors might consider insane, but I honestly believe that the sky is the limit when it comes to valuations on anything JD.

The first is a plain-Jane, heavy, one-shot paneled glass from Hopkinsville, KY. It was listed with an opening bid of $500 by buzzardroost07 and sold a week later to 2***a without a contest.

The “Old Time” glass was listed by lakerdude33 as a $800 buy-it-now together with a beaded “Gunter’s Landing”. Not surprisingly, the bait was taken within a few days. Either make for a nice Christmas present for a Jack Daniel aficionado!

Hunted in the Wild (SOTW, September 28, 2019)

eBay lapsed into its usual Summer doldrums over this past couple of months, but, with Labor day now firmly behind us, we finally have some interesting glass and trends to talk about.

First, I’d like to thank Brad Allin for sending in pics of a glass that he hunted and shot in the wild:

Brad mentioned that he cornered this glass in an antique mall, making it a rare beast indeed, as those of you who trawl antiques stores and shows on a regular basis can testify.

It’s from J H Costello & Co. of Boston, MA. My information on Boston dealers came from Howard Currier and is very limited, but they were in business in 1889 and perhaps through to Prohibition. I’ve only seen this glass once before – on eBay (where else?!). eBay bidder atcoins bought it back in 2009 for $1.99 and then flipped it 8 years later for $51.00.

Speaking of eBay…..

I’ve been beginning or ending SOTW for many years now with some stats on how many glasses have sold, how many went unsold, and what the average sell price is. The average sell price is a reasonably good way of estimating what your collection is worth, assuming it’s average. If the average sell price is $26 and you have 49 glasses in your collection, then it’s probably worth around $1,274.

With that being said, the past 28 days saw 186 pre-pro glass auctions close. Of these, 65 closed without a buyer, and the average price of those that sold was $40.15, which continues the healthy uptick in prices we’ve seen in recent months.

The more interesting part of this is that glasses that I’ve had on my eBay radar for months, and, in some cases, years now, are flying off the virtual shelves. eBay lets you add 300 items to a watchlist, and mine has been filled with active listings for months now, and I’ve had another 100 or so on an overflow list. In the past month, the overflow list has evaporated and I’m back below the 300 eBay watch limit, all because glasses that were viewed as overpriced a couple of years ago are being scooped up in buy-it-nows.

Case in point. I had drafted a post that featured a couple of unloved glasses that have relisted so many times that I’d actually had to modify the parameters in my sales database to record their activity. One of these was a Livingston Thompson from the Thompson Straight Whiskey Co., of Louisville:

It’s a nice enough glass, but, for reasons unknown, has always had difficulty attracting buyers. This particular example was offered by oxygenman, first listing for $49.95 some three or four years ago. It subsequently relisted at least 147 times, with the listing price dropping to a low of $29.95 and rising to a high of $100. It finally sold for $75.00 on September 26. The seller got a premium price for the glass, but one has to think that he/she took a net loss after factoring in the seller and endless relisting fees.

My pick of the week/month has to be the “Old Woodcock” which listed for $198 and attracted only a single bid. Old Woodcock was a Thomas O’Keefe brand – the distillery was based in Oswego, NY. O’Keefe arguably left us two of the top 100 etched pre-pro picture glasses – the Monteagle and the Beaver Run. Once you’ve seen a mint example of either “in the glass”, so to speak, it’s difficult not letting the goal of acquiring one become an obsession.

$198 may seem a lot to pay for a pre-pro glass, but the enamel glasses – especially with pastel highlights and gold curlicues – are as rare as hens teeth. Remember these glasses were all hand-enameled by skilled artists, which made them expensive to produce, even back then when labor costs were minimal. Very few were made and even fewer have survived the 100 or so years since. The old lady pictured above may seem a little frayed around the edges and she’s definitely past her prime, but she’s still a rare find and $198 seems like a bargain given that she would have sold for $400+ not so very long ago.

Fab or Fake?

Now there’s a question.

Very occasionally, someone gets an idea into their head to create a “fantasy glass” and put it on eBay to make a buck or two. eBay’s motto is “Caveat Emptor” after all, and there’s many a gullible punter trawling the web eager to be fleeced. Mercifully, the fakes have been easy to spot so far and the collecting community is small (= low financial incentive), so we’ve been blessed with knowledge that if a glass is billed as being pre-pro and it looks pre-pro, we can be fairly confident that it is indeed the genuine article.

Those of you new to the hobby may not realize that the thin-walled glasses that were so commonly used as vehicles for advertising in pre-pro years are extremely difficult to make in modern times. The glass-blowing machines used to produce these glasses by the gross and that were so prevalent back in the early 1900’s no longer exist. The corporate owners of the Jack Daniel brand tried to reproduce them to create a commemorative glass back in the late 60’s and, in so doing, proved just how difficult it is to make convincing thin-walled whiskey tasters in bulk.

So, if you’re an enterprising faker, what do you do? If you’ve been out trawling antique malls and hunting pre-pro shots in the wild, you’ll know that there are many thin-walled blanks available and just  waiting to be picked up for $2-$3. These are the genuine article and they are just crying out for a fake label to be applied.

All of which brings me to the topic of this latest post.

This “Raleigh / For Men of Brains” glass was listed on July 29, 2019 by diggerdaveb for an opening bid of $29. Digger Dave describes it as follows:

“This is a rare deep wheel cut Raleigh Whiskey advertising shot glass from the pre prohibition era of the early 1900s. From Einstein Bros of Cincinnati, Ohio who registered the Raleigh Whiskey brand in 1905….This awesome glass has a picture of Sir Walter Raleigh cut into the glass!

RALEIGH FOR MEN OF BRAINS with Sir Walter Raleigh all wheel cut engraved into the glass on front….thin wall shot glass….2 3/8″tall….Sparkling near mint condition with only one teeny tiny nick on the top inside edge of rim. You can hardly even see it and can barely feel it with your fingernail. No other nicks or damage. Shiny clean. About the finest possible example of this very scarce pre pro picture glass! I have never seen or heard of another one like it…Raleigh Whiskey was registered in 1905 by Einstein Bros of Cincinnati, Ohio. It is interesting to note the Einstein name and “Men of Brains” motto connection…”

diggerdaveb usually lists glasses as a buy-it-now, so seeing it list as a regular auction was unusual for him, which is interesting in itself, but what the heck is it? As he notes, “I have never seen or heard of another one like it… “. Me neither. I’ve seen and/or owned tens of thousands of pre-pro glasses over the years and I’ve never seen one like it either, so what the heck is it?

It’s difficult to tell for sure from listing photos, but I would very much doubt that it’s a wheel-etched glass. The design is too intricate – wheel etching was typically used to create souvenir glasses to order, such as the “Don’t Drown The Hog” glasses. The most intricate design I’ve seen is on a “Free Trade” glass, as shown below, but it’s still pretty crude by comparison with the Raleigh above.

One possibility is that it’s a laser-etched glass, and since I’m pretty sure that there were no lasers around in the early 1900’s, that raises the possibility of it being a fake.

diggerdaveb comments that “It is interesting to note the Einstein name and “Men of Brains” motto connection…”

Albert Einstein was a young man working in Switzerland during the pre-pro years. Although he developed his theories of relativity during this period and received a Nobel prize in 1921 for discoveries relating to photoelectric effects, it seems doubtful that he was a household name yet. Would your average whiskey-buying punter link the Raleigh glass with Einstein? Probably not, but maybe a faker thought it was a clever poke at collectors. Or maybe it’s just coincidence.

In reality, I think the Raleigh is a hot-needle etched glass or debossed glass, such as found on the steamship and Spokane silver grill shots shown below.

This is a very uncommon way of creating an glass inscription. Although it’s ideal for labeling glasses intended for routine daily use (the needle-etched labels do not fade or wash off over time, unlike the common white-frosted labels) the labels do not stand out well against a background. It takes some effort to be able to get a good photographic image of them for this reason, and they do not stand out well in display cases.

So, to return to the title of this post, is the Raleigh glass Fab or Fake? It’s probably neither. I doubt that it’s a fake, although I’d have to be able to examine it in person to judge. It’s an interesting inscription and it would have been a winner as white-frosted label, but it mainly has curiosity value as a needle-etched glass.

What a State of affairs

Here’s an interesting little tale that begins back in August, 2014, when the glass shown below first listed on eBay.

It’s an etched barrel glass in rather sad condition with abundant evidence of wear, including a badly scuffed and worn inscription. It’s hard to figure out what the glass is from the listing photo, but it reads: “I. Michelson / & Bros. / FINE LIQUORS”. It was offered for sale by seller id candles-01, with an opening bid of $19.99. Given the condition, it’s not surprising that the glass went unsold and it did not relist that year, at least not on my watch.

Just to give you a little history – I. Michelson & Bros. were located in Cincinnati, OH., with the company name dating the glass to between 1904 and 1916. The company produced several different glasses; I hadn’t seen this variant before, but that’s not unusual given how few pre-pro glasses are “listed” (i.e., featured in the old and new testament of Barb Edmonson’s shot-glass bible).

Fast forward to June 19, 2019 and the glass relists with a different photo under the seller id jp-tech. Note that the wear pattern is identical. Wear patterns may get worse over time but they do not reverse, so they are as unique as fingerprints.

This time around it listed with an opening bid of $65 and it was jumped on the next day by bidder id i***d. Six days later, it was sniped in one by c***k and sold for $87.78.

So what the heck happened in 5 years that turned a $5 glass (an estimate based on origins and condition) into a $87.78 glass?

The auction title pretty much sums it up “UNLISTED Shape PRE-PRO WHISKEY Shot GLASS – I. MICHELSON & BROS 1904-16 TEXAS !!”

What happened was that Jack Sullivan wrote a blog post about the Michelsons that posted in April 2015. In his post, he noted that Abraham Michelson exited the firm around 1894 and set up on his own as A. Michelson, Wholesale Liquor Dealer, in Austin TX, which is presumably where the TX connection comes from.

The seller notes that “This glass was found just outside of Round Top, Texas during the last Warrenton/Round top antique weekend event so thats why I’m saying this glass is probably from the Austin, Texas area.”, which is not exactly a reassuring provenance given that antique dealers travel the length and breadth of the country hopping from one show to the next during the course of the year.

Note that Abraham died from diabetes in 1903, which predates the “UNLISTED Shape PRE-PRO WHISKEY Shot GLASS – I. MICHELSON & BROS 1904-16 TEXAS !!” glass by a year.

Caveat Emptor.

Did I. Michelson & Bros. sell hooch in Austin in later years? Probably. Did The Hayner Distilling Co., and The Rieger Co., and The Schweyer Co., and hundreds of other national wholesalers sell hooch in TX? Probably. Are Hayner glasses TX glasses? I don’t think so.

I know others may have contrary opinions, but imho a glass tracks back to the home base of the distiller and wholesaler, not the vendor. A TX glass is, by definition, inscribed with the name of a TX town or city, or with a brand name that is owned and registered by a TX distiller, wholesaler/rectifier, or vendor.

Swings and roundabouts

Suddenly there’s a lot to talk about and time has a way of slipping by, so I’m switching to mini-post mode in the hopes of catching up in between a seemingly endless series of work deadlines.

In the last SOTW, I was reflecting on the fact that there has been a seismic shift in shot-glass values, with traditionally high-end glasses selling for about half of their previous hammer prices, whereas the solid lower-end glasses have been steadily building value in recent months. I was using Russ Beem’s glasses as a case in point, and his latest (and seemingly his last?) set of glasses to appear on eBay further underscore this continuing trend.

The image of the Old Maid glass above is a little out of focus, but gives you a reasonably good sense of its appeal. This is a text-only glass, so that places its value in the $10-$30 range. It’s from the Orene Parker Co. of Covington, KY., a company that gave us one of the classic pre-pro glasses that every serious collector should own (they’re common and easy to come by – get one if you don’t already own one, and hold out for mint condition).

I’ve seen examples of the rarer glass above sell 10 times since 2001, with the price fetched averaging around $25, which would be consistent with a text-only glass valuation.

Russ picked this glass up for $23.19 back in April, 2013 and started this listing at $25, which was perfectly on target. It sold a week later for an eye-popping $127.50.

Yikes.

If you don’t have one of these glasses in the display case already, you need to find one, because it’s probably in the top 1% in terms of desirability. It’s a deceptive glass – it really doesn’t look like it’s worth bidding on when it pops up on eBay, but once you see one in vitro (so to speak), you’ll come to appreciate the boldness of the font and the way it captures the essence of pre-pro glass collecting.

Dr. Nowstone (SOTW, June 15, 2019)

Deciphering the old-timey fonts used on pre-pro glasses can occasionally prove to be a challenge, even to seasoned collectors, but I had to laugh at this eBay auction title. The well-known yellowstone shot glass was billed as a “Dr. Nowstone”. Wait, I don’t think I have a Dr. Nowstone in the collection – mental note to snipe that one….

For those of you interested in such things, eBay has lapsed into its traditional summer lull. A total of 135 glass auctions closed in the last month. Of these, 66 failed to attract a bid. The average price of glasses sold was $37.81.

Most glasses of interest in the past few weeks have been offered by water_works, a long-time collector better known to eBay regulars under his bidder id rwbeem. Russ has filled his showcase with many fine glasses over the years but is currently trimming his collection. Most notable among the recent offerings were a Red Top Rye highball and a “Standard of the World”.

Red Top Rye glasses are highly sought-after and the spinning top is etched in red, so it was a fair bet that the glass would sell in the three figures. rwbeem picked this off eBay for $271 back in January 2015; this time around it changed hands for a still-respectable $172.50.

The “Standard of the World” does not look like much, but it’s from Richmond, VA. VA is one of those states with a loyal collector following, and anything pre-pro from there can produce some “interesting” bidder action (think blood spatters and gore). This particular glass first shows up in my database in October 2016, when hottshots, who was selling off junkmoney’s collection, got an impressive $350.oo for it. This time around, it sold for $155.38. I’ve never seen another example of this glass – so far as we know, it’s a sole survivor from S G Atkins Co.

Yours truly picked up a couple of Russ’ offerings also. The Pelham Club below is from Boston, a city notable for producing some outstanding picture glasses (second only to San Francisco in that respect; by way of example, look at the Sphinx Rye or Owl Whiskey from Walsh & Co.) and also for being an East coast city that, along with New York and Philadelphia, few collectors find sufficiently interesting to compete for glasses from here.

The Pelham Club has an interesting eBay pedigree. glasspicker sold it to bluroc back in October, 2010 for $172.50, and bluroc passed it on to lakerdude33 for $175.00 in December, 2012. Lakerdude33 listed it at $150 in September 2014, and rwbeem picked it up as a Best price offer. Lakerdude33 tried to get it back again this time around, but oldwhiskey had the higher bid at $77.99.

As you’ll have gathered from these auctions, the price on the good glasses has dropped significantly in recent years as the field of pre-pro collectors has been whittled down by deaths and people cashing in their collections. Interestingly, the price on solid shots at the other end of the spectrum has about doubled and is rising steadily, which can only be a good sign since it shows a growing interest and appreciation in these old advertising glasses.