S.F. Gaslight Ammonia now Greer’s Washing Ammonia?
23 April 2011
On my visit to see the Robert Frank Collection late last year in Lompoc, California I was drawn to this beautiful, light canary yellow bottle in one of his display cases that had more bubbles than I had ever seen on a bottle. Upon inspection, I could see lightly embossed and engulfed in character, “AMMONIA”… I recall being told it was also embossed S.F. GASLIGHT CO“.
When I say bubbles, I mean tiny and sparkly bubbles on the outside, inside and middle. There were even bubbles on bubbles! This is a wonderful bottle folks.
I can not find much information on this bottle. Maybe someone out west will chime in. Here is what I found. 1890 vintage, about 7 5/8″ high. San Francisco Gaslight Co. was formed April 1, 1873 by the merger of three companies. It morphed into San Francisco Gas and Electric Co. prior to 1906, when the company’s main gas plant at the foot of Laguna was destroyed by the quake.
Ammonia-saturated water is a byproduct of coal gas manufacture. Perhaps it was bottled at the “gashouse cove” plant, where gas was manufactured beginning in the early 1880s, or at one of the smaller, older works that were supplanted by “North Beach Station” (sic), alleged to be the finest gas works west of Chicago. Perhaps Pacific Ammonia and Chemical Co., located near the gas works at the intersection of Webster and Francisco, an intersection that no longer exists, bottled the ammonia under contract.
***Important new information***….See Ham and Mlasko responses below. Stay tuned…
Actually a well written history on these bottles has been done by Bill Ham. Several years ago Bill amassed an incredible collection of the quart sized bottles in an array of colors, his story on these bottles, their variants and colors is written in a thorough 5 page article.
From Bill Ham via email:
Ken Stokes, I couldn’t remember his last name when I sent the note. There were two blue ones (they are about an inch taller than the other colored ones) a yellow olive, a teal, pink, clear, amber, yellow amber, apricot, light green, bright grass green. I never had a picture of them.m The Hill’s had about 6.
This particular example of a quart ammonia is simply spectacular! Upon closer inspection, however, I noticed an embossed circle around the embossing(?). The S.F. gaslight Co. bottles do not have this. Then, a faint “signature” is visible at the bottom of the embossing pattern…also not a characteristic of a S.F. Gaslight bottle. I have determined that while a stunning piece of glass, this is a “Greer’s Washing Ammonia”. I have seen some with this character, but never in this yellow coloration. Amazing!
I think that Dale is correct, this is a Greer’s
The S. F. Gaslight Ammonia bottles are discussed in an article in the March 1994 Antique Bottle and Glass Collector magazine.
From Bill Ham email:
I had collected S.F.Glass Light Ammonia bottles in the 1980s and early 1990s. At one time I had about 30 colored examples. At an early Mother Lode Bottle Show in Downieville, we displayed them in the cabinet that you see as you climb the staris into Rick And Cheery Simi’s house. I sold the grouping to Ken in Fort Bragg. He later also bougth Shelly and Aaron Hill’s grouping. I believe that he still has all of them. I posted where the article on Gass light bottles is
Dale and all:
Thanks for helping re-identify the bottle posted. Any more info and/or pictures of the two (2) Ammonia’s in question? Sounds like these are killer brands. I trust the Greer’s is Western? Be great to see runs of each.