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Double Eagle Historical Flask Tops Glass Auction

Susan Emerson Nutter | November 4th, 2013


Double Eagle historical flask, pint, GII-144, probably Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks, Keene, New Hampshire, 1815-30; of ovoid form with vertical ribbing on the entire flask except for the eagle and medallion on both sides, in bright light green, tooled round collared mouth - pontil scar; Warren “Bud” Lane collection; $26,910 (est. $25,000/50,000). Only two known examples are recorded; the other is at the Corning Museum of Glass, in Corning, New York.


“E.G. Booz’s / Old Cabin / Whiskey” figural bottle, GVII-3, Whitney Glass Works, Glassboro, New Jersey, 1860-80; of rectangular modified cabin form, in medium yellow-amber, applied sloping collared mouth, smooth base,
7 5/8" high; $5850 (est. $2000/4000).


“J.R. & Son” scroll flask, half-pint, GIX-42, John Robinson and Son Manufacturers, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1830-34; in deep amethyst, tooled mouth, pontil scar, 1" crack at the ½" x ¾" area of mouth with an epoxy repair; $24,570 (est. $3000/6000).


Blown three-mold whimsy, GII-18, probably Boston and Sandwich Glass Works, Sandwich, Massachusetts, 1820-40; of cylindrical hat form, in medium cobalt blue, tooled brim, pontil scar, 2¼" high, 2½" brim diameter; purchased from Ruth Webb Lee, Dr. Paul S. Andreson collection; $3510 (est. $400/800).


Blown three-mold whimsy, GII-16, probably Boston and Sandwich Glass Works, Sandwich, Massachusetts, 1820-40; of cylindrical hat form, in deep cobalt blue, tooled brim, pontil scar, 1¾" high, 2" brim diameter; Dr. Paul Andreson collection; $7020 (est. $750/1500).

“Phelps / Arcanum / Worcester / Mass.” medicine bottle, the product of a Stoddard, New Hampshire, glasshouse, 1846-60, of cylindrical shape with eight indented panels. Made in brilliant light to medium yellow-olive glass, it had an applied sloping collared mouth with a ring, was 8¾" high, and realized $7020 (est. $2000/4000).


“John Q. Adams” and Bust - “J.T. & Co” and Eagle portrait flask, pint, GI-62, probably John Taylor and Company Manufacturers, Brownsville, Pennsylvania, 1820-40; in aquamarine, crudely sheared mouth, pontil scar; ex-Dr. Charles Osgood collection, ex-Charles B. Gardner collection, ex-Warren “Bud” Lane collection; $11,700 (est. $15,000/30,000). Only four or five examples are known.

Norman C. Heckler & Company, Woodstock Valley, Connecticut

Photos courtesy Norman C. Heckler & Company

Having skills is not just a Napoleon Dynamite thing.

Gaffers and artisans who work with molten glass were often called upon to “show their stuff,” especially after work when excess glass from production was available for creative endeavors. Auction 106, Norman C. Heckler & Company’s absentee auction of early glass, bottles, flasks, and more, held November 4-13, 2013, featured several pieces of glass that were probably the result of some posturing and chest-puffing at the end of the day.

“We call these ‘hat whimsies’ in the catalog, but hats were actually made by glass artisans to be used as salts or toothpick holders,” Norm Heckler, Sr. pointed out. “But they were also made as a way for glass blowers to practice certain techniques. Such pieces were free-blown, meaning a mold was not involved, so they really do show off a glassblower’s talents,” he added.

Offering one-of-a-kind examples of free-blown glass (that until recently have been living in private, albeit well-known, collections) to advanced glass enthusiasts looking to add something unique to their extensive acquisitions can almost guarantee strong bidding. And it did.

A blown three-mold hat whimsy thought to be from the Boston and Sandwich Glass Works, Sandwich, Massachusetts, 1820-40, was not only in an extremely beautiful cobalt blue and in fine condition, it had been purchased from Ruth Webb Lee and was from the collection of Dr. Paul S. Andreson; both had been gurus to the glass collecting community. The 2¼" tall whimsy, estimated at $400/800, was taken to $3510 (including buyer’s premium).

Dr. Andreson’s collection contained another Boston and Sandwich Glass Works blown three-mold hat whimsy in cobalt blue, but this one was a bit shorter at 1¾" tall. It sold for $7020 (est. $750/1500).

Yet another hat whimsy from Dr. Andreson’s stash was a blown three-mold example from the Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks, Keene, New Hampshire, 1820-40. This 2" high cylindrical hat form with a 3 1/8" diameter tooled brim and a pontil scar had a desirable medium yellow-olive color that was an attraction. It was presented with an impressive $5000/10,000 estimate, but that wasn’t even close. The whimsy commanded $24,570.

“The hats were probably fun to make, and they sure were fun to sell,” Heckler said. Apparently, they were also fun to find.

Heckler told how a woman had contacted him 35 years ago, asking that he come see her collection of hat whimsies, but he never got the chance. Earlier last year, the woman’s son contacted Heckler and began the conversation by stating, “You might have known my mother.” It turned out that his mother was Dr. Paul S. Andreson’s daughter, the same person who had asked for Heckler’s opinion over three decades ago.

This time around, Heckler did go to see the collection of hats—all 400 of them. “I’ve been doing this for more than fifty-five years and had thought I’d seen everything. This collection was over the top. I was really excited about it and honored to sell pieces from it.”

Despite a fantastic showing, a hat whimsy was not the auction’s top lot. That honor went to a Double Eagle historical flask, GII-144, thought to be from the Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks, Keene, New Hampshire. It came to the auction with a $25,000/50,000 estimate and sold for $26,910.

However, listening to Heckler describe the flask, one wouldn’t have thought that it stood a chance of garnering such attention. He described it by saying, “This flask was not that handsome in form, and the color, though clean and bright, was not that fantastic.”

So what was the attraction? “Its rarity won out over everything else,” according to Heckler. “This flask is one of only two examples known to exist, the other being at the Corning Museum of Glass.”

The flip side of this line of thought can be seen with the sale of the “J.R. & Son” scroll flask, GIX-42, by John Robinson and Son Manufacturers, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1830-34, made in a deep amethyst color and having an extremely rare form. The flask’s look was its appeal. Even though a ½" x ¾" area of the mouth had an epoxy repair and a 1" crack at the repair, it sold for $24,570 (est. $3000/6000).

There was an air of disappointment in Heckler’s voice when he spoke of the catalog cover lot: a Cornucopia - Pinwheel figured flask, GIII-1, in a deep blood red color. It sold at $23,400, below its $25,000 low estimate, and Heckler thought that its major selling point might have also been a deterrent.

“The deep red color of this half-pint flask was stunning, but it was also very dark,” Heckler explained “And though ‘color is king’ where bottle collecting is concerned, and this was a great color, the only way you could see the beauty of the red was if light was shone through it a certain way. The deep red looked black otherwise and would not display well in a normal setting.”

A lot whose color was an asset was a 6 5/8" tall free-blown pitcher, probably from the Willington Glass Works, West Willington, Connecticut, 1815-50. In a brilliant medium blue-green, this pitcher had a large, bulbous body that was another selling point, but its condition was probably its most important aspect. “Handled pieces like this pitcher usually have damage,” Heckler explained. “Not this one. It was in exceptional condition.” The pitcher made $17,550, within estimate.

Color also played a key role in the sale of a figural cologne bottle thought to be from the Boston and Sandwich Glass Works. While its square monument form was appealing, its brilliant medium grass green color was a huge attraction. Though estimated at $1200/2400, it brought $12,870.

“Two people wanted it,” Heckler stated, “and that’s understandable. Both bidders recognized it as being something special.” Heckler said the bottle was in a rare color, was in perfect condition, and had its matching colored stopper, which is very uncommon.

Rarity, color, and condition are the trifecta when it comes to collecting early glass, bottles, flasks, and, in the case of Auction 106, whimsies. Many of the 152 lots offered in this early glass auction had one or more of these attributes, resulting in a sale total of $493,465.

For more information, contact Norman Heckler at (860) 974-1634; Web site (www.hecklerauction.com).

Figural cologne bottle, probably made at the Boston and Sandwich Glass Works, Sandwich, Massachusetts, 1860-88; of square monument form, in brilliant medium grass green, tooled flared mouth with matching stopper, smooth base, 14½" high with stopper; Ralph Finch collection; $12,870 (est. $1200/2400).

Pattern-molded pocket bottle, 12 diamond pattern, Stiegel’s American Flint Glass Manufactory, Manheim, Pennsylvania, 1770-74; of plump pocket bottle form, in brilliant medium amethyst, sheared mouth, pontil scar, 5¼" high, strong mold impression; $8775 (est. $2500/5000).


Originally published in the February 2014 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2014 Maine Antique Digest

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