American Bottles in the Charles B. Gardner Collection

The Lure of the Empty Bottle

As the Norman C. Heckler Auction 100 – The Warren C. Lane, Jr. Esquire Collection of Historical Flasks winds down and ends this Wednesday evening, 17 October 2012, I thought it might be appropriate to post some information about a book in my library.

This book is titled American Bottles in the Charles B. Gardner Collection’  by Norman C. Heckler. This is the second example of the book in my collection. This latest example was graciously provided by FOHBC Hall of Famer Bill Baab as a gift. It has the original loose picture of the Gardners tucked within plus a typed three-page letter with a story “The Lure of the Empty Bottle” by the Gardners. You can read the letter below or by clicking Read Story.

The inside book jacket reads:

“For the amateur and expert collector alike, the Charles B. Gardner bottle collection represents the finest and best-known personal collection of its type in the United States. The product of some 46 years of assembling by an expert with a deep knowledge of the art of glass-making, and an abiding love for man’s expression of beauty and utility in glass, it is a rare example of he great variety available to the bottle collector.

The Gardners have generously and graciously shared their home and time with interested collectors from throughout the country who have viewed the display of 3,200 bottles in an effort to study and appreciate for themselves the range and diversity of this remarkable personal collection. Never before, and perhaps never again in American bottle collecting, will such a variety of bottles be assembled and made available to the collector.”

One of my favorite passages from the Gardners: The Lure of the Empty Bottle”

“As an example of how bottles increase in value over the years I would cite a few instances. In 1931 I purchased a flask known as the Jared Spencer and marked Manchester, Conn. from Stephen Van Rensselaer for $75.00. A few years later a friend collector offered me a $500.00 G. E. electric refrigerator for this flask and right away the wife made up my mind to accept. About three years later the same friend obtained a duplicate of the flask and traded it back to me for three flasks that cost me a total of $45.00. In 1956 a duplicate of this flask sold for $570.00.”

About Ferdinand Meyer V

Ferdinand Meyer V, President, Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors, is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and has a BFA in Fine Art and Graphic Design from the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design. Ferdinand is the founding Principal of FMG Design, a nationally recognized design consultation firm. Ferdinand is a passionate collector of American historical glass specializing in bitters bottles, color runs and related classic figural bottles. Ferdinand is married to Elizabeth Jane Meyer and lives in Houston, Texas with their daughter and three wonderful grandchildren. The Meyers are also very involved in Quarter Horses, antiques and early United States postage stamps.
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5 Responses to American Bottles in the Charles B. Gardner Collection

  1. Warren Friedrich says:

    What a great letter! I never met the Gardners personally, only stories from some Eastern collectors. I’m sorry I didn’t attend the auction of his collection, although I have seen a few of his bottles in some current collections. They certainly were pioneers in the field of bottle collecting. Thanks for sharing this letter!

  2. avuono22 says:

    Hey Ferd,

    Great post on the Charles Gardner Collection. It’s fascinating to note how Gardner knew some of the pioneers of the hobby personally like Rhea Mansfield Knittle, Harry Hall White, and the McKearins. It always astounded me that no one can find a picture of Harry Hall White. Considering how important he was to the hobby, establishing confidence in attribution to many pieces through his excavation of glasshouses, it’s amazing that nobody knows what he looked like. Anybody out there know where a picture can be obtained of this important early pioneer of the hobby?

    Andrew

  3. jack says:

    Fabulous letter, Ferd. Thanks for posting. It brings back many fond memories. I was fortunate to attend both sessions of the auction where we even had fun in the parking lot of Skinners in those days. My catalog has several autographs from many who attended, including Bill Agee, Ed Blaske, Bob and Beka Mebane, and others. How many remember the banquet in honor of the Gardners in Glastonbury, Ct., at the country club, in Apr. 1973? Our Rochester club also hosted the Gardners back in those early days; I believe it was in the late 60s. One old time club member still owns a plastic encased “cigar butt ” smoked by Charlie. Great time; great days!
    Jack

  4. bob-figurals says:

    Ferd, I believe I mentioned that I personally knew the Gardeners. W e had corresponded for about ntwo years when Charlie told me that he was going to sell his bottle collection through Skinner’s Auction House in Bolton, Massachusetts. As soon as I heard this announcement, I made arrangements to attend the auctions. On arrival of the Skinner’s auction, I saw Charlie sitting in the first row so I walked up to him and introduced myself and he said to me “that I thought you had gone to hell in a hand basket”. We always battered back and forth since this was Charlie’s nature. As a result of these two auctions, I was able to add 8 of Charlie’s bottles to my collection, one being the previously unknown W. Wolf blue barrel. Recently a second example of this barrel surfaced at a flea market and will be sold at John Pastore’s next auction.
    Bob Ferraro

  5. Froggy says:

    It would be very interesting, but challenging, to develop a post on GARDNER-AUCTION BITTERS BOTTLES and where they reside today, with pics of course. I have one…

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