“The Big Fish that Got Away”
Updated 13 August 2012 with Greg Price email
We all know about, and have probably experienced, “The Little Fish that Got Away” syndrome. Well, how about “The Big Fish that Got Away”. Also, how often do you get to own a great American bottle that is pictured on a United States postage stamp! Not often! How often should you lose it!
As primarily a Bitters collector, I once had the opportunity to purchase the great Callahan’s Old Cabin Whiskey figural cabin (see picture below) in the Norman Heckler Auction 76 in 2005. This exact bottle was used for the 33 cent American Glass postage stamp (pictured above) developed by Richard Sheaf about a decade ago. This same bottle has also been on exhibit at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York and and was once owned by Norman Heckler Sr.
Talk about provenance and a story!
[from Norman Heckler Auction 76 in 2005]
CALLAHAN’S OLD CABIN WHISKEY, yellow amber, near perfect, Circa 1865-1880, rectangular, modified cabin form. This exact bottle was used for the 33 cent American Glass postage stamp designed by Richard Sheaf a few years ago. This bottle has been on exhibit at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. ex: Norman Heckler Sr. collection. Tall cabin form with cathedral arched windows and doors, applied sloping collared mouth – smooth base, ht 9 inches. Norman Heckler Auction 76, Lot #25, November 2005.
At the Baltimore Antique Bottle Show in March 2009, I brought my CALLAHAN’s and had it sitting on my table for visual interest. Prior to the show, at a local hotel, I had made some purchases of some major, new rare Bitters and was “in the hole” as far as cash. Well along comes Ed Gray at my table saying “I have this client that may be interested in your bottle. I thought it was odd that Ed was using the term “client”. Typically it was “I have someone interested”.
Long story short, I sold the bottle to Ed for his “client”. As it turns out, this was my first experience, albeit indirect, with Sandor Fuss (Denver, Colorado). Sandor, up until this time, had been flying under the radar picking up some great bottles.
Well this is my “
Little Big Fish that Got Away“ story. I was again reminded of how great this bottle is, when a second ‘great’ example showed up in the current Glass Works Auctions 95. I have pictured that example below along with the Fuss (ex Meyer) example which is, in my opinion, a greater example because of the color and story.
[from Glass Works Auctions 95]
“CALLAHAN’S / OLD CABIN / WHISKEY” (on front and back panels) – “PATENTED / 1865 / PITTSBURGH, PA.” (on both side panels). (Denzin CAL-11), Pennsylvania, ca. 1865 – 1870, medium amber cabin, 9”h, smooth base, applied mouth, pristine perfect condition and with nice glass whittle. According to Don Denzin, author of ‘Antique Eastern Whiskey Bottles’. “This is the most sought after of all antique whiskey bottles”! We originally auctioned this bottle on August 17th, 1993 at the Federation of Historical Bottles Collectors auction in Richmond, Virginia. It was lot 77 selling for $8,000.00! Since that time it has been in the collections of Roger Long, Eric Schmetterling and most recently Chris Hartz. Of the known examples, and there aren’t many, it is considered to be the finest of its kind.
Hi Ferdinand ,
Nice website and great bottle content! Just thought I would pass along a little info on the Callahan’s Whiskey bottle that just sold for $20,000.00 in Glass Works Auction. I bought that bottle from a PA. collector around about Jan of 1993. I being a “Bitters Only” collector put it in with my Bitters Collection, for after all it looked just like an American Life Bitters. But after a short time decided to sell it. I contacted Jim Hagenbuch about putting it in one of his up coming auctions, but Jim made me an offer that included part cash and trade. I was pleased with the offer and the deal was made. A short time later the bottle sold for $8,000 being lot 77 in Glass Works Auction and where it made it’s start into the Bottle Collecting World. Now if I could just take it back and do it all over again!! Sincerely, Greg Price