The “Blue-Green” Drakes Mystery

T H E   “B L U E – G R E E N”  D R A K E S

Updated 01 July 2013

A good marketing or advertising piece should catch your eye whether it is mailed,  displayed or used in any media. Most of us know that a large majority of information that is sent or projected at us is discarded or completely ignored. And junk-mail is certainly something most of us distinctly dislike.

I have rather strong filters on my e-mail system that remove 99% of the junk e-mails and spam that I receive. Fortunately, I do not even see it. If it is suspect, my e-mail filters place it in quarantine and deliver me a report each evening at 9:00 pm sharp. I have to peruse this list of fifty to one hundred e-mails and usually find that one or two are real and important. Most of the others are outright junk or they are from mass e-mailings. This includes auction house news, organization news and other messages where the system detects a potential problem because the e-mail did not come from a singular person or business. This is just the way it is in the world I live in. Oh, I also have 3 or 4 e-mail addresses which make e-mail management a must. Maybe the next time that I hear that a person does not have a computer or do e-mails, I will think twice before feeling sorry for them. Maybe they are having the last laugh.

Anyway, I find this e-mail from Jim Hagenbuch and Glass Works Auctions within my quarantine report last night. No surprise as it was mass mailed. I forward it to my inbox for reading this morning. Probably something announcing his next auction.

Well, not an auction announcement date per say, only Jim trolling for consignments for his January 2013 “Cabin Fever” Auction. Nothing earth shattering until I look at the one and only accompanying picture and I see a ‘blue-green” Drake’s Plantation Bitters. Leaping lizards and ‘whoa Nellie’ here folks. There are only four known “blue-green” Drakes (at least with the crowd I run with) and I know Jim Hagenbuch has one of the four. Actually, the Hagenbuch example is the only one I have not seen in person. Is this example pictured the Hagenbuch example? Is this a new example unbeknownst to me and my figural Bitters buddies? Of course and as expected, Jeff Burkhardt received this e-mail from Jim and Glass Works Auctions too and he is wondering the same.

Update #1: This is a ‘new’ find. Probably the new Drake’s super figural collector Bill Taylor heard about.

Update #2: Includes new example auctioned off by American Bottle Auctions on 30 June 2013.

“I look at the one and only accompanying picture and I see a ‘blue-green” Drake’s Plantation Bitters. Leaping lizards and ‘whoa Nellie’ here folks. There are only four known “blue-green” Drakes (at least with the crowd I run with)…”

This might be a good time to look at these “blue-green” Drakes that sometimes are called the ” teal-green” Drakes. They have NEVER been grouped together for study and comparison. They are simply legends in the figural bottle world that receive a lot of conjecture about color, embossing and character. The pictures I use below have been taken at different times, by different persons and methods using different light sources. This is all I have for now. This only adds more intrigue to the discussion because every picture is different!

It is also inevitable to hear someone say “which one is the best”. This is impossible to say unless they are judged together such as at the FOHBC Reno Expo shootout. Read more: FOHBC Reno Expo Shoot-Out Pictures

For clarity of discussion and for identifying pictures, I have numbered and described the four known “blue-green” Drakes.

Burkhardt Specimen #1Possible containing more blue than the other three. Provenance: Ex: Frank Kurzewski

Fuss Specimen #2 (aka travelin’ Drake’s)Provenance: Ex: Mike Henness. Rumored sale to Bill Taylor.

Meyer Specimen #3Provenance: Ex: John Feldmann. Winner of the FOHBC Reno Expo Shootout (note: other three, at the time, “blue-green” Drakes were not there)

Hagenbuch Specimen #4Rumored. Obtained privately from Oregon thru California intermediary. Not pictured. Held privately by Jim Hagenbuch.

New Specimen #5 Connecticut find cosigned to Glass Works Auctions

New Specimen #6  Sold by Jeff Wichmann with American Bottle Auctions on 30 June 2013. $33,000 not including auction house premium.

Jeff Burkhardt – Specimen #1

Burkhardt Specimen #1 (far left) – DRAKE’S PLANTATION BITTERS in a blue ‘blue-green”. Killer color run display at the Burkhardt home

Burkhardt Specimen #1 (I am pointing to the bottle) – DRAKE’S PLANTATION BITTERS in a blue ‘blue-green”. – Jeff Burkhardt home

Sandor Fuss – Specimen #2

Fuss Specimen #2 – DRAKE’S PLANTATION BITTERS in ‘blue-green”. Ex Mike Henness. Picture taken at the 2012 Morro Bay Show prior to Fuss purchase. Rumored sale to Bill Taylor.

Ferdinand Meyer V – Specimen #3

Meyer Specimen #3 – DRAKE’S PLANTATION BITTERS in ‘blue-green”. Ex John Feldmann. Picture taken at John Feldmann’s famous bottle room.

Meyer Specimen #3 – DRAKE’S PLANTATION BITTERS in ‘blue-green”. Ex John Feldmann. Picture taken at the 2012 Houston Bottle Show (Meyer table display)

Meyer Specimen #3 – DRAKE’S PLANTATION BITTERS in ‘blue-green”. Ex John Feldmann. Picture taken at the 2012 Reno Expo Shootout (bottle top center). Winner of Drake’s Shootout.

New Find –  Specimen #5 (GW)

Hagenbuch New Specimen #5 – Rare, circa 1862 – 1870, blue-green ‘Drake’s Plantation Bitters’ Estimate: $30,000-40,000 – picture and caption featured on a Glass Works Auctions e-mail “Cabin Fever” marketing piece to get cosigned bottles – November 2012


ST / DRAKE’S / 1860 / PLANTATION / X / BITTERS – PATENTED / 1862”, (D-105), New York, ca. 1862 – 1875, medium cotton candy blue green, 6-log cabin, 10”h, smooth base, applied tapered collar mouth. A less than pinhead size flake is off the underside of a roof peak that we mention only for accuracy. This recently discovered bottle is in as found attic condition, never washed it does retain some slight inside dried contents that a little soap and water will remove. You are bidding on what is considered by the Drake’s collecting fraternity to be the most sought after color of any Drake’s Plantation Bitters. It’s been 22 years since we’ve auctioned one close to this color. (Cris Batdorff Collection 1990). We have been made aware that a Drake’s Plantation in an almost identical color was sold privately within the past six months for in excess of $55,000! – Glass Works Auction #96 The “Cabin Fever” Auction” (January 2013)

New Find – Specimen #6 (ABA)

See Video


ST DRAKE’S 1860 PLANTATION X BITTERS. Applied top 10”. 1862-72. D-105. In a recent article on the Peachridge Glass website ( Ferdinand Meyer talked about this elusive bottle in regard to its blue green color. Here’s one that could simply be described as turquoise, and is a bottle that surpasses our expectations on almost every front. Condition is beautiful with the word Drake’s being very weak and there is some light wear on a roof edge corner, along with what could be described as a microscopic open bubble near the edge of the roof (see pictures and video). We believe the light strike on the word Drake’s is due to the bottle possibly being removed from the mold too quickly, or rather before the glass had a chance to settle into the upper part of the mold. As you can see, the entire upper portion of the bottle is slightly twisted. In Ring/Ham they talk about the inconsistencies of the embossing on these bottles, some even having dates that look a few years off. Here is one that rarely shows up and if you collect Drake’s, bitters, or just bottles for that matter, this is one you might not want to miss. Grade is 9.7 even with slight imperfections. Please look at this bottle; you’ll know what we mean. We’ve gone to great lengths to make sure the color is consistent with the bottle. As always, the still photos are the most reliable. Winning Bid: $ 33,000 – ST DRAKE’S 1860 PLANTATION X BITTERS. Applied top detail – American Bottle Auctions – Auction 58


ST DRAKE’S 1860 PLANTATION X BITTERS Top detail. – American Bottle Auctions – Auction 58

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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7 Responses to The “Blue-Green” Drakes Mystery

  1. Warren Friedrich says:

    Out of the ‘fantastic four’ grouping I would say that the Meyer, Fuss and Hagenbuch examples are a bluish-green color, but I think the Burkhardt example is blue. My favorite of the ‘fantastic four’.

  2. Froggy says:

    Thanks Guys! I must admit however that it’s all relative. Next to a pure teal-blue JOHN ROOTS I just acquired, my Drakes shows a bit more green.

  3. Jeff Wichmann says:

    Just picked one up very similar. Ironic your article came out the day I got it. Of course nothing surprises me anymore. It’s a gorgeous example, never in the ground. Came from a longtime collector, he had it for over 50 years.

  4. Froggy says:

    Jeff Wichmann- Let’s see a pic!

  5. BittersCollector says:

    I am curious about something . Are all the known examples
    the same mold variant ? Not enough close up pics for me to tell.

  6. Froggy says:

    Ferdinand- Excellent & valuable re-cap of blue-green Drakes extant to date! Last “new” info I heard was that there is/was one in a Missouri collection. Could this example just sold by ABA could be that bottle??

    Repeating FB comment, wouldn’t it be fab to bring all 6 together in the ULTIMATE DRAKES SHOWDOWN!

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