Barrel Series – Stillman & Breen


Brandies, Wines, Teas And Cigars

24 July 2012 • 28 July Update: See comment from Robert Cutchins below.

I guess this weeks figural barrel posts are about extremely rare bottles found in thrift shops. Why not? It happens all the time right?

Apple-Touch-IconARecently, it was the 2nd example of a W. WOLF PITTSBURGH barrel showing up in a Chicago area thrift shop (see: Barrel Series – W. Wolf found at Thrift Shop for $1.00). Today it is the extremely rare, STILLMAN & BREEN | MEMPHIS, TENN barrel which I believe is unique. This bottle was found in a Texas thrift shop in early 2010. This is unheard of folks, come on now, a Thrift Shop?

The STILLMAN & BREEN, by coincidence, or is there a link, is the same form and size, and looks like the same mold as the W. WOLF. Even the typography and bunghole is similar. Go figure!

Maybe a good place to look for unlisted, pontiled, figural barrels from the mid to late 1800’s.

I am trying to get in touch with the fellow who found the bottle in Texas. Apparently it is a contact or friend of Texas patent medicine collector, Brad Seigler. What we also know, is that Glass Works Auctions sold the bottle in December 2010 (see below). I am also trying to get these details. Why is this an incomplete post? Well, I am off to the Blue Bird Circle Shop and the Salvation Army to look for lamp shades, bean bag chairs and unlisted, pontiled figural barrels. Oh, and we are catching an early bird tomorrow to Reno for the FOHBC Expo!

Glass Works Auctions “Christmas Comes Early” Auction #90 closing 06 December 2010. You can see the short STILLMAN & BREEN barrel.

From Memphis Diggers Read: Unknown Memphis Whiskey Barrel Found] From the information that Memphis collectors have found, Stillman & Breen looks to have been in business from 1861 to 1862. Also the owner found a site on the net that had some canceled checks and letterheads of Stillman & Breen from 1861 – 1862. (see examples below pulled by PRG)

“Stillman & Breen looks to have been in business from 1861 to 1862”

[Memphis Daily Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee, April 20, 1862, p. 2, c. 7]
“Bottles, Bottles. Bring on your second-hand bottles. We will pay the highest cash price for bottles delivered at our store on Second street. Stillman & Breen”

STILLMAN & BREEN | MEMPHIS, TENN – photo Memphis Diggers

STILLMAN & BREEN | MEMPHIS, TENN – photo Memphis Diggers

W. WOLF PITTSBURGH – Ferraro Collection

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

Stillman & Breen, Memphis letterhead – image Fold3

Stillman & Breen, Memphis letterhead – image Fold3

Stillman & Breen, Memphis invoice – image Fold3

Stillman & Breen, Memphis invoice – image Fold3


Stillman & Breen barrel with Glass Works Auctions sticker – Faulkenberry Collection

Read More on Figural Barrels

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.
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3 Responses to Barrel Series – Stillman & Breen

  1. mikedickman says:

    Wow! Obviously, I need to get to the Salvation Army and Goodwill stores more often! See everyone in Reno!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Botldgr03 says:

    Brad told me about this article. I actually purchased this bottle at an antique shop in Waxahachie, Tx. The price tag was $25. At first, I wasn’t too sure it was the real deal. I must have turned this barrel every which way for about an hour. It almost seemed too good to be true. Being ankle deep into bottles for 24 years, this is one I had never seen or heard of. They let me have it for $20. I brought it home and posted it on, asking if anyone had seen or heard of it. That’s when the offers started, $500, then $1000, etc. I knew I had something good. I then contacted Ed Provine, a prominent Memphis collector, and Mike Cothern, a prominent Memphis digger, about this bottle. Neither had seen this barrel, let alone found a piece or shard of one. We came to the conclusion that it is the only one discovered so far. I shipped it off to Glassworks Auction, and it sold for $7,500. Unique is a tough word when it comes to bottles. I believe all bottles have a mate or two which haven’t been located. They could be in the attic, privy, under the house, on granny’s fireplace mantle, or in the thrift store, you just never know. I am willing to bet there are other barrels that used this same mold that have yet to be discovered. It is just amazing all the new discoveries in the past decade as far as unknown bottles and color variants. When it’s too hot to dig, check thrift & antique shops, flea markets, and estate & garage sales because this is where some of the best glass has been located lately. Robert Cutchins

  3. Added example of Stillman & Breen figural barrel from Memphis, Tennessee. Picture provided by Ellen Faulkenberry.

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