Barrel Series – I. Nelson’s Old Bourbon


Isaac Nelson

26 July 2012 (Updated 23 August 2013) (R•091516)

I. NELSON’S OLD BOURBON in found condition – Antique Whiskey Bottle Hall of Fame

Apple-Touch-IconAIn my determination to leave “no stone uncovered” in the Figural Barrel Series (see far below), I now write on the I. NELSON’S OLD BOURBON figural barrel. This bottle came out of left field when Brad Seigler stated the following: “The Maysville, Kentucky bottle is also in the same mold” in response to my STILLMAN & BREEN figural barrel post.

I quickly did an online search and was lead to the Reggie Lynch groundbreaking, and Internet forerunner, Antique Bottle Collector’s Haven web site. Apparently Reggie had come across this bottle previously and it was sold privately to the Mason County Museum and Research Library in Maysville, Kentucky. I really do not have any more information about this bottle other than what I post here. According to Brad, there are at least two examples that have been previously spotted. Both are pictured below.

Updated 26 August 2013 with the advertisement below:

Morning Call Bitters - The Dollar Weekly Bulletin - Maysville KY - Sept 4 1862

Isaac NelsonThe Dollar Weekly Bulletin – Maysville KY – Aug 7 1862

I again find it extraordinary that the I. NELSON’S is so similar to the W. WOLF PITTSBURGH and the STILLMAN & BREEN MEMPHIS figural barrels (see below).

* 28 July: New picture added of example seen at FOHBC 2012 Reno expo.

I. NELSON’S OLD BOURBON / MAYSVILLE. K.Y – Blown in Mold, 7 1/4″ figural barrel shaped whiskey in olive amber coloration. Sold on consignment by Reggie Lynch to the Mason County Museum in Maysville, Kentucky – Antique Whiskey Bottle Hall of Fame

I. NELSON’S OLD BOURBON / MAYSVILLE. K.Y – Blown in Mold, 7 1/4″ figural barrel shaped whiskey in olive amber coloration. Sold on consignment by Reggie Lynch to the Mason County Museum in Maysville, Kentucky – Antique Whiskey Bottle Hall of Fame

The I. NELSON’S OLD BOURBON example now resides at The Museum Center, aka the Mason County County Museum and Research Library, was chartered as the Maysville and Mason County Library, Historical, and Scientific Association in 1878 and is said to be the oldest state historical organization in continuous existence. In 1975 the association changed focus and continued as the Mason County Museum. In 2003, with plans for change and expansion, the name was changed to Museum Center.

A second example. Description from eBay: This barrel shaped whiskey I have had for nearly 30 years in the collection. The color is a medium olive amber. There is green to the color and hardly any amber at all. Just enough to shade the olive green. This color is just like the U.S.A.  hospital bottles. It stands 7 3/8 inch high, by 3 1/4 inch wide at the base. It is nearly 4 inches wide at the center and is 3 1/2 inches wide at the shoulder. The lip is 1 1/2 inches wide and there is no damage at all. There is a narrow light streak of interior stain on the front half of the barrel, below the words I. NELSON’S. The base interior has a light stain, probably from the original contents. The light stain does not go to the sides, it is mostly in the center area. Half of the original cork is in the neck yet. I never tried to remove it. The glass has nice crudity to it, with lines and bubbles and some stretch marks. This is one fantastic whiskey. I have seen an amber version of this whiskey before, but never an olive amber one. I could not find any that have been on eBay either. It would be a long time until you find another one. PRG: Thanks to Brad Seigler on finding this historical eBay post. This bottle sold for $4,650 in June 2012 by nev.bott

MAYSVILLE, K.Y. embossing on eBay example pictured above

This picture just taken at the FOHBC 2012 Reno Expo Gazebo display. I. NELSON’S OLD BOURBON in a greenish amber.


I. NELSON OLD BOURBON figural barrel consigned to American Bottle Auctions (December 2012). I believe it is the same bottle pictured above. Read: Bring out the (Antique Bottle) Barrels

To me, it is astounding that the STILLMAN & BREEN MEMPHIS, the W. WOLF PITTSBURGH  and the I. NELSON’S OLD BOURBON are so similar. Look closely at the serifed typography! Extraordinarily similar for such early bottles.


Purchased at the 47th Annual Golden Gate Historical Bottle Society’s Antique Bottle and Collectibles Show and Sale on 13 April 2013. – Jerry Forbes


“I. NELSON’S / OLD BOURBON / MAYSVILLE, KY.”, (Denzin, NEL-21), Kentucky, ca. 1865 – 1875, golden yellow amber barrel, 7 1/4”h, smooth base, applied mouth. A pinhead in size flake is off the outer edge of the lip. A rare bottle and in the desirable barrel form! Purchased from Paul Van Vactor, in 1976. – Glass Works Auctions #112 – Bob Ferraro Collection – Session 1

Read More on Figural Barrels

Barrel Series – W.C. Bitters

Barrel Series – W. Wolf found at Thrift Shop for $1.00

Barrel Series – Ben Franklin Bitters

Barrel Series – Highland Bitters and Scotch Tonic

Barrel Series – Smith’s Druid Bitters

Barrel Series – Roback’s Stomach Bitters (the smaller ones)

Barrel Series – Roback’s Stomach Bitters (the big boys)

Barrel Series – Dr. Chandler’s Jamaica Ginger Root Bitters

Barrel Series – Favorite Bitters & Peoples Favorite Bitters

Barrel Series – Wormser Bros San Francisco

Barrel Series – Mist of the Morning

Barrel Series – Old Sachem Bitters and Wigwam Tonic

Barrel Series – Turner Brothers New York & San Francisco

Barrel Series – The Mysterious Blue Barrel

Barrel Series – Original Pocahontas Bitters

Figural Barrel Series – Hall’s Bitters

Greeley’s Bourbon Whiskey Bitters – aka Vertical Greeley’s

Peach colored Bourbon Whiskey Bitters added to Color Run

Greeley’s Bourbon Bitters – A Great Boston Bitters Barrel

About Ferdinand Meyer V

Ferdinand Meyer V 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. He 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. Ferdinand is the past 6-year President of the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors and is one of the founding members of the FOHBC Virtual Museum.
This entry was posted in Bottle Shows, Bourbon, Digging and Finding, eBay, Figural Bottles, Museums, Spirits, Whiskey and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Barrel Series – I. Nelson’s Old Bourbon

  1. Warren Friedrich says:

    Nice to see another example show up, hopefully I’ll get a chance to see one with examples now in Kentucky, Nevada and California.

  2. Updated post with 1862 advertisement for Isaac Nelson. Provided by James Viguerie.

Leave a Reply