Sometimes life repeats itself..
In this post I would like to explore the commonalities between the beautiful coloration and faceting of blue Sapphire gems, the S.S. SMITH JR & CO. figural, rectangular semi-cabin (that probably contained a whiskey or rye) from Cincinnati, Ohio and Bombay Sapphire Gin (my preferred Gin). The chamfered bottle design of the S.S. Smith certainly reminds me of the gem we are familiar with and the Bombay Gin bottle. Sapphire is a color that responds well to light and can refract lighter and darker tones that are gorgeous. Who wouldn’t want to pick this bottle off the shelf of a merchant in 1875 or so. I know I can usually spot this color and brand in a field of many behind a bartender now.
Sapphire is the official birthstone for the month of September as adopted by the American National Association of Jewelers in 1912. It is also one of the birth stones for the Zodiac signs of Pisces, Taurus, Virgo and Sagittarius. Sapphire is given as a gem for the 5th, 23rd and 45th wedding anniversaries while a star sapphire is given on the 65th wedding anniversary.
Sapphire is the non-red variety of corundum (the red variety of corundum is ruby). A 9.0 on the Mohs scale of hardness, sapphire is the second hardest natural mineral.
Blue is by far the most popular color for sapphires, but they can be almost any color, including yellow, green, white, colorless, pink, orange, brown, and purple. Padparadscha is the name for a rare orange-pink variety of sapphire and has a higher value than blue sapphires.
In the Glass Works Auction 94 this past March 2012 (Ides of March Auction) (see picture below) one of these S.S. Smith gems showed up. An example has not made an appearance for years. These are really tough to come by. I purchased my example in 2006 (see pictures below) in a private transaction from an East Coast dealer and auctioneer. I wish I had more information on the bottle such as a label or advertising but alas, I can not find a thing. I have heard rumors of an amber example. Hopefully this post will ferret out some more information from my collector friends.
[In from Steven Anderson from Rhode Island] S.S. Smith, Jr. Liquors No. 34 E. 2nd St., Listed in the city directory 1869 S.S. Smith Jr. & Co. Dealers in fine Bourbon and Rye Whiskeys 58 W. 2nd St., 1871 directory, partners were Edwin Smith and Benj. Ehrmen
This information from an article in the January 1995 edition of Antique Bottle and Glass Collector magazine. The article also mentions that the Booth family part of an acting group did visit the Smith family in 1848 on an acting tour. John Wilkes Booth, then ten years old, was there, as well as the 10 year old S.S. smith Jr. I kept the magazine for posterities sake, as I once owned the bottle. Best Regards, Steve Anderson (original article by Gary Beatty)
Glass Works Auction 94 “The Ides of March” Auction. Closed 19 March 2012.
This example sold for $4,312.50 including auction house premium. Most examples have sold historically (I have seen two or three including my own) for around $6,500 meaning someone really got a deal.
148. “S.S. SMITH. JR & CO / CINCINNATI. O.”, (Denzin-SMI-21), Ohio, ca. 1870 – 1880, medium cobalt blue semi-cabin, 9 5/8”h, smooth base, applied tapered collar mouth, perfect condition. For those of you who collect these popular semi-cabin bottles, this is a hard one to find, and gives you a chance to add some nice color to the collection!