Not everything shot-glass related that comes my way is via eBay, although it sometimes seems that way. I’m always interested to see other people’s collections, especially when they’re in a display case.
Most of you will have at least one glass in your collection that was purchased from Paul Van Vactor, better known as stilz on eBay. Paul is something of a legend in the collecting world. In the pre-internet days, he was one of the few reliable sources of pre-pro shot glasses and the latest version of his snail-mail sales lists were eagerly awaited by all. He was one of the collectors that contributed to Barbara Edmonson’s Historic Shot Glasses and Old Advertising Spirits Glasses, the Old and New testaments of the pre-pro shot glass Bible.
Paul shifted his sales activities to eBay after the internet became a force to be reckoned with. The sales database has logged over 41,000 auctions since 2001, roughly 1,300 of which are attributable to stilz.
Paul is based in Lousiville, KY. His collecting interests focus primarily on KY bottles and glasses (he has a lot to choose from!), although his shot glass collection includes some rare examples from other States. His eBay wares include bottle, glasses, and souvenir china pieces from all over the US, picked up during his travels around the country.
I had a chance to catalog Paul’s glass collection as it was over a decade ago now: You can click through the listing pages here. However, Paul was kind enough to recently send me a couple of pics of his new display cases that I’m excited to share with you here:
I have to say, those squat enameled back-bar bottles make for an impressive display. If I weren’t already overrun with shot glasses, I might be tempted to start yet another collection….
It listed with a $49 opening bid with a $129 buy-it-now, which is a hefty price to ask of a new collector who may be unsure of the background or authenticity, so it ran without attracting a bidder for almost a week.
We don’t actually know much about the origins of this glass. It was given away by Henry E Dowd, of Toledo, OH., about whom we know next to nothing. We know that he applied for a patent covering his name and his face (we can safely assume that it’s Henry’s face that appears on the glass) back in 1981, the patent listing as a “Medicinal Beverage.” Beyond that, I have no idea.
The glass shown above is clearly old. It’s a heavier glass and the label is acid-etched and, although unsigned, clearly the work of George Truog of the Maryland Glass Etching Works of Cumberland, MD. I’ve seen this glass twice now, so it’s a rare one and most likely early 1890’s. There’s a sister glass that’s equally rare. Both are in the database, but perhaps there’s another variant out there that we don’t know about (Toledo collectors please get in touch if you can provide more information).
The auction finally closed on December 8th with a buy-it-now at the asking price, which is a bargain if you’re interested in the older pre-pro glasses.
While I was noodling around on the internet, I happened to notice that an “identical” glass was still listed on a Russian scammer site at 50% off — with 11 still in stock! Yay! Caveat emptor…
This was one of the more interesting offerings on eBay over the past few weeks and an easy one to miss if one were not familiar with the heavier, pressed and embossed/debossed pre-pro glasses.
In addition to a handful of more common thin-walled shots, Stulz Brothers of Kansas City, MO. produced several unconventional glasses, ranging from tall wine glasses to squat shots with their name embossed in the base. One such glass looks like a dose or bitters glass with a short stem, with the Stulz Bros. name appearing as debossed text in the base.
This glass is notable for the reversed “Z” in “Stulz.” It’s a relatively uncommon glass that shows up for sale every 4 or 5 years, with a couple of them selling in the $100 range.
So I was interested to see a set of six of them show up on eBay for an opening bid of $50, offered for sale by carnival96. What made this grouping notable is that the glasses have been decorated with a colorful flower design:
This was the glass that achieved the highest sales price during the past couple of weeks and it’s a rare old beauty:
It was listed for sale by miketaylor100 with a start price of $29.99. It was soon bid up to around $49, but then sat there for a week with no further bidding activity. The auction finally closed with a volley of sniper shots that drove it up to a final sale price of $259.55.
What made this a $260 glass? The Mette & Kanne Distilling Co. were based St. Louis, MO. They listed in city directories from around 1893, and I would guess that this glass dates back to somewhere around there given that it’s acid etched and the design was a creation of George Truog of the Maryland Glass Etching Works of Cumberland, MD. We know this because the glass is signed by the Master himself: see the tiny transparent “GT” signature to the right of the crown.
I’ve seen the glass once before – it was one of those that made up Ken Schwartz’ collection. There is a sister glass that advertises Carmen Kentucky Bourbon, which I first logged into the database as a part of Paul Van Vactor’s collection. It’s also signed by Truog and is almost as rare.
Congratulations to the collector that snagged the Crown Jewels!
Not quite a lump of coal, but I’m sure some may view it that way. Mini-mugs are shot-glass size, standing about 2-1/4″ tall, and they date to the same pre-Prohibition era. Mini-mugs are collectible in their own right and there are hundreds, if not thousands of variants to chase after, but mini-mugs advertising a whiskey brand or a distiller are exceptionally rare. Offhand, I can only think of one, and that advertises Bellwood Rye Whiskey from McCarthy & Co. of Haverhill, MA.
Mini-mugs don’t get much respect from purist glass collectors, but they do make for an interesting and colorful addition to the display case. The Bellwood mug is actually quite rare, showing up for sale about once every 4 or 5 years on average.
whatilove00listed one for sale mid-December with an initial bid price of $49.99. Unfortunately it had a significant chunk missing from the rim and the auction closed a week later without a buyer. In good condition, this mug can sell for in the region of $125, so the asking price was not unreasonable.
If you’re interested, the mug relisted at the same asking price and the auction was still running as of writing, no bidders.
Believe it or not, “trotting”, aka “harness racing” is actually a thing. Wikipedia helpfully explains that “harness racing is a form of horse racing in which the horses race at a specific gait (a trot or a pace). They usually pull a two-wheeled cart called a sulky, or spider, or chariot occupied by a driver.”
Harness racing or “Trotting”
Quite how Samuel P Haller Co. of Pittsburgh, PA. was connected to trotting, we may never know, but his business did leave us with two nice picture glasses featuring a trotting horse and sulky to advertise their Trotter whiskey brand. Both are relatively rare, showing up for sale roughly once every 5-7 years or so.
The database contains a rare variant of one of the two that lists the company as “Samuel P Haller Co.“; the more common version of this glass omits the “Co.” The other glass in the database is the “Sole Owner” variant, and it was one of these that listed for sale on eBay in the past couple of weeks.
The seller, milksrme1960, wanted $100 for it and the auction closed on Dec. 17 without a bidder. I would have bid on it if I didn’t already have one in the display case, but I understand why there were no takers.
Luckily, the seller relisted for $65 and, as of typing, there’s only one interested party. I wouldn’t be surprised if a bidding war pushed it over $100 this go-around. Happy eBaying!
Legal disclaimer – it’s a dove, but it’s not a turtle dove, and there’s only one, but we live in an age where reality is routinely redefined by group thinking and the interwebs, so free to use your imagination on this one.
A turtle dove. Really.
Despres was a Chicago firm notable for two glasses with an inscription that incorporated blue in the design. The first, an example of which is featured here, shows up for sale once every 5 years or so. A white-etched dove is enclosed within a blue circle outline that spells out the wholesaler’s name. I’ve seen the second only once, and that was in Bob Mraz’ collection. The dove appears on a black circle within the blue circle outline with black etching. I had a chance to visit Bob and photograph his collection while out West for an FOHBC national. Bob is no longer with us and I’m not certain where the glass ended up, but it’s a rare one for sure.
Glasses with blue/white labels are very uncommon. Offhand, I can only think of the Blue Bell from Barth & Co. in WI, the Old Ironsides from Magullion in MA, and the TPA from Kayser & Hegner Co. in OH. They make for an interesting addition to the display case.
Technically the first day of Christmas is still a week away, but I thought there’s be a better chance of making it through 12 postings on time if I started early.
It’s been an interesting year, pre-pro wise. Relatively few glasses of note have been offered for sale on eBay and even fewer of those have been selling. There’s been a flurry of activity in the past couple of weeks, but most of the glasses that have sold have been run-of-the-mill, low-end glasses (O! So Goods and Hayners) that have been circling the eBay drain for months before finally finding a home. I suspect that most of these are going to end up being gift wrapped and stuffed into stockings.
In the past 4 weeks, 163 glasses listed for sale, 60 auctions closed without a buyer, and the average price of glasses that did sell was $35.13, which is down by a couple of $$ from the typical average sales price for pre-pro glasses. Again, this reflects a lot of low-end sales ahead of the holiday. Average sales price for the year is $38.73.
On to the floozy. This is one of my favorite glasses, one I’ve seen only once before, and that was back in 2002. Back then I got into a bidding war with Bill Armstrong (junkmoney for those of you who were active when bidder id’s were visible) and the glass ended up costing me $150. This latest one looks to be a tad beaten up or maybe it just needs a good wash, but the etching is obviously clean. It sold for $215.50.
So what is a “Grass Widow”. The term dates back to the 1500’s. Although the original meaning remains speculative, a grass widow is said to to be a woman who is separated, divorced, or lives apart from her spouse, or whose spouse is away from home frequently or for a long time, or even a discarded mistress.