ANOTHER "GREAT BOTTLE DIGGING STORY" FROM THE PAGES OF
ANTIQUE BOTTLE AND GLASS COLLECTOR MAGAZINE
THE MAGAZINE OF THE ANTIQUE BOTTLE COLLECTING HOBBY
by Peter B. Samuelson
Here in New Hampshire, the summer of 2002 brought on many days
of excessive heat and humidity. During these times my posture
changed dramatically. When the weather is damp my body knows it.
For much of the bottle-digging season I was bent over at an
extreme angle and I walked with a distinct limp. Being bent over
really isnt that bad; it has its benefits. Its much
easier for me to see objects on the ground, especially when my
eyeglasses are all fogged-up from the humidity. The limp has yet
to be of much value.
For more than 25 years, I have been dealing with various forms of back ailments, a lot of which are of my own doing. Hauling heavy loads of old bottles, artifacts and crystals has certainly taken its toll. With all the disadvantages of less than ideal weather conditions and a rickety body, I had poor luck digging vintage bottles during the first part of the summer.
About the middle of August, in the neighboring state of Maine, I located what I though was an undisturbed 1800s cellar hole. After close evaluation it became obvious that the site had been partially excavated in the 1960s. An old soda can in the dirt gave evidence of that date. The area had been hastily dug and any unbroken bottles had been hauled off.
Weather-wise, it was hot and sticky with a temperature of about 90 degrees. My arthritis was giving me a hard time, so I really wasnt in the mood to make a major production out of my first visit there. After an hour or so of probing around the back of the house foundation, I finally came upon several whole, common-type bottles, bits of metal and some broken 1850s pontiled medicines. It was too hot to continue, so I called it quits for the day.
Peter B. Samuelson, "Old Limpy."
Early the next morning, when the air was cool and fresh, I returned to the cellar hole. Instead of probing, it seemed like a good idea to search for the main dump. However, this proved to be a waste of time and after several hours of following stone walls and investigating gullies, I gave up.
Returning to the area where the building once stood, I began to probe the ground around the granite walls of the old barn. Under some pieces of broken window glass I found the remains of a Bakers Flavoring Extracts Jug. Much to my surprise, while digging this out, I retrieved a cute little unembossed open-pontil bottle, several smooth-base medicines and a few rusty ox shoes. This cache of goodies didnt last long; as it soon ended near a large side panel of an old cast-iron wood stove.
At one of the corners of the barn foundation was a scythe blade protruding from the earth. Also there appeared to be a slight depression near the wall. Pulling away the scythe blade and a few leaves, I came upon two unbroken Warners Safe Kidney and Liver Cure bottles. Years ago they had been neatly tucked in next to the wall and covered up. There was no damage on either bottle.
|The barn foundation and farm impements.||The house foundation|
By this time the temperature was above 90 degrees with the humidity rising. The two Warners bottles had given me enough incentive to go on for a while, even though I was starting to overheat.
Away from the back of the barn foundation, was a small heap of broken bricks and a scattering of demolished dishes. Apparently this stuff had been heaved out the back door or windows of the barn.
The humidity was getting to me. Needing rest and fluids, I sat down in the shade of a large tree. Having my probe in one hand it felt natural to poke at the pile of bricks and dishes.
Within a few feet of the tree, my probe emitted a familiar thinking sound. By chance, I had probed a bottle dead center. With little ambition left, I got down on my knees like an old goat and commenced to dig for my reward.
|The Baker's Jug.||Crude pill bottle.||Dr. S.A. Weaver's Canker &
Salt Rheum Syrup
|Telssier - Provost A Paris|
The bottle was quite large, aqua colored and with the top half and neck being under a large root. Next to the neck and lip was a brick. This certainly was not an encouraging situation. After cutting away the root and gently removing the brick, I was able to get my hand under the bottle. Up it came! After turning it over and rinsing the front panel off with my drinking water, I could plainly see what I had found. The embossing read: Dr. SA Weavers Canker and Salt Rheum Syrup. It was in extra-fine condition with the exception of a small lip chip. It was the hinged-mold variant. This wasnt too bad, considering the amount of effort it took to find it. I should sit and loaf more often.
For the next several days, the heat and humidity was dreadful. My arthritis and muscle spasms were driving me batty. This was not the ideal time to go digging again. After a cold front passed through the valley, the temperature returned to a more comfortable level.
Goodies dug at the site.
The next day, I loaded up on my pills and said, "To heck with the aches and pains," and drove to the digging site. This was a grand idea, but things didnt work out quite the way I had hoped.
When I got out of the car, I could barely walk. The pills hadnt taken hold. I felt miserable! It was an all-out effort just to get to the cellar hole. Limping along through the woods with my tools and huge backpack, I must have been a sight to behold. Being all humped over, I could easily have been mistaken for that pitiful fellow from Notre Dame Cathedral. All I needed was a rope and a large bell.
Cursing at my condition, and with some fast talk, I finally convinced my body that all of this foolishness was going to be of some benefit. Anyway, I eventually arrived at the cellar hole.
Lacking enterprise, it was obvious to me that any amount of digging activity was going to be quite limited. Standing up and trying to dig was simply out of the question.
In front of me was a large birch tree. It was directly in back of the house cellar hole, surrounded with bricks from a collapsed chimney. This looked like a fine place to take off my backpack and sit or should I say, collapse! Little did I know that within a few minutes I would forget all about my physical condition.
Groping under and around the roots of the birch tree, I suddenly saw glass. Here was a heap of broken bottles, mostly 1880s and 1890s stuff. Near the base of the tree was a whole bottle. It was a tiny, unembossed medicine. Getting down on my hands and knees, I peeked under large roots of the tree. This is when my aches and pains disappeared. I was about to receive a new lease on life.
Before me, was one of the most beautiful old bottles I had ever seen. There was one slight problem; it was in two pieces. After retrieving both halves of the bottle, I held it in my hands and spoke out loud: "Telssier Prevost A Paris. It has the embossed bell and a nice open pontil"!
The most striking aspect of the bottle was the color. It was not the usual emerald green, but instead it was a vibrant blue-green, or teal color. The break in the glass was clean, I could not see any pieces missing. With the help of a little epoxy, I would have a complete bottle. Other than the break, things looked fine. The old bottle had survived the years very well. It was in superb condition. The joy of finding the beautiful old bottle had worked as a panacea. For a moment in time, all my pain had disappeared.
The remainder of my visit to the cellar hole was spent relaxing by the birch tree talking to myself. Old "Limpy" had struck back. I had found one of my greatest treasures ever. The hike back to the car was easy.
Recent research has failed to uncover any information regarding the history of the Telssier Prevost A Paris bottle.
Does any reader know what this bottle contained? Was it a cosmetic or medicine? Also, where was the bottle made? Is it foreign or domestic? Any help with this matter will be greatly appreciated
Peter B. Samuelson
P.O. Box 281
Intervale, N.H. 03845-0281
OLD LIMPY STRIKES BACK FOR A
The remains of this nice specimen were found on April 18h. This was my first trip this season. The busted Telssier - Prevost was bad enough - now I have a busted U.S.A. Hosp. bottle from the same location. I dug it near the corner of the barn foundation. The photo of the farm implements and the grinding wheel is the area where i found the bottle. I guess it was thrown against the wall. What a shame! P.S. I wasnt limping on the 18th of April. It was a day free of aches and pains. HA!
About a week after I found the broken U.S.A. Hospital Dept. bottle. I returned to the site for one final probing session. It was late in the day and I hadnt planned to spend too much time looking for bottles. After all I had been over the area around the cellar-hole several times before. Soon after I began to probe around the foundation of the old house, I located a nice pharmacy bottle from Lewiston, Maine. This was quite a surprise considering the fact that I had probed this section before.
Instead of heading for home, I decided to sit for a moment and enjoy the late afternoon sun.
For some reason, I thought of a large, blocky bottle. perhaps a gin or large medicine. I was thinking of the color green. This thought didnt last more than a few seconds. It was time to leave.
Walking back to where I had placed my backpack, I stuck my probe into the ground near a large sugar maple tree. Just under a layer of leaves was a bottle. I had probed it head-on. Digging away the leaves with my hand I came apon a large, blocky bottle. The color was not green, but cobalt blue. I had found a N.Y. Pharmacal Association bottle. I looked like an early one, perhaps late 1870s or early 1880s. It was in one piece, but cracked along one of the side panels. Despite the damage, the bottle is a beauty!
I have had premonitions many times before regarding objects. Time and time again these psychic flasks as I call them, come true. This time I got it half right - I got the size but not the color.
Daydreams do come true. Old Limpy had struck back for the final time.
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