2015 Baltimore Bottle Experience
Snow, Cold Weather and a Warm Time
11 March 2015
Towards the middle of last week, Elizabeth and I started getting alerts from the airlines that our scheduled flight from Houston to Baltimore might be delayed. Well, I guess so, as there was a projected 100% chance of snow in Baltimore this past Thursday. Trying to outsmart the weatherman, we changed our flight to Friday morning, which was after the front. My bottle bud, Jerry Forbes elected to keep his Thursday flight from California and actually was on time during the storm. Go figure. He did say the pilot said, “OK, we are going to give it a try” when they were making an approach into Baltimore. Gee, that must have been comforting.
Usually we stay up in Towson, Maryland which isn’t but 15 minutes or so from the Baltimore Antique Bottle Show which is held at the Community College of Baltimore County – Essex. I like Towson, as this is where I spent my school years as a youth. As many of you know, I am a true Baltimorian in that I love crab cakes, the eastern shore, the Birds and the
Colts Ravens. This year we elected to stay at the Marriott Waterfront in downtown Baltimore, within walking distance of the pier areas and Little Italy. It seemed like a good idea….almost.
With $45 dollar valet parking a night, 15 degree temperatures, and a brisk wind off the harbor, it made for some interesting combinations of clothes to keep warm as we shuffled, like penguins, around. I did hear that San Francisco has $65 a night parking so I feel minutely better. Parking downtown is an issue and one that confronted us when we were looking at Baltimore for a future FOHBC National Convention. Anyway, Friday night was dining at Aldo’s in little Italy with Jim Bender, Linda Shepherd, Jim and Val Berry, my wife Elizabeth and Jerry Forbes. Great dinner including crab cakes and Pinot Noir with an Italian flair.
Because we arrived on Friday, we missed our typical tours of the B&O Train Museum, Geppi’s Toy Museum, Bromo Seltzer Tower (see image below) and the Washington Monument. You can read about these places from a previous post.
Saturday morning was the semi-annual FOHBC Board Meeting at La Quinta Hotel in Rosedale. It was tough for all present without Dick Watson there. I thought I would share with the readers a communication from this past Monday to the Board members which pretty much sums up my initial thoughts of our meeting.
Thank you for a very productive meeting. We should be very pleased that we covered the entire agenda and even finished early! That’s a first, at least for me.
I am especially pleased that we voted to approve the Tiered Membership including Life Membership and Digital Membership. With a membership vote in Chattanooga, we can finally put this to bed and move forward. A special shout-out to Jim Bender and Jim Berry for heading up this effort.
We also are very close to filling BOTH vacant board member positions. We may have this wrapped up next conference call where we can vote for approval.
The HALL OF FAME vote will be a silent vote and occur this week as approved by the Board. Elizabeth Meyer will be conducting the silent bid process. Look for an e-mail on each of the three candidates by Thursday or so with and option to vote YES, NO, Abstain and COMMENT. The results will be confidential.
We walked into the meeting with questions about the Northeast National Antique Bottle Convention in 2017. We left the room with a plan. Jim Bender and Bob Strickhart are acting Co-Chairs. We will vote to confirm this next board conference call. There was quite a buzz and excitement at Baltimore with this news.
Val Berry and Elizabeth, who staffed our great looking Federation Table, signed up 9 new members, 7 renewals and sold 23 magazines, two t-shirts and received one donation to the Virtual Museum. Thank you!!!!
This is just off the top of my head. Still in Baltimore at the hotel. Off to Greenville SC tomorrow morn. Complete meeting notes will be issued by Jim Berry.
The Board meeting lasted about 3 1/2 hours, so afterwards, Elizabeth and I headed up the hill to Dellis for crab cakes and good times with bottle friends. Saw tons of people like Jim Bender, Jim and Val Berry, Rick Ciralli, Louis Fifer, Michael George, Jim and Jodi Hall, Eddie and Diane Kuskie, Matt Lacy, Larry Marshall, Jeff and Holly Noordsy, David Olson, Linda Shepherd, Jack Sullivan, Mark and Andrew Vuono and John Wolff. I’m sure there were others but we really bombed this place with a hungry and thirsty bottle crowd.
Set-up at the Baltimore Antique Bottle Show typically starts on Saturday afternoon around 3:00 pm and from 5:00 to 8:00 pm you can put out your bottles on the table. This is also when we set up the Federation table. This used to be the wildest three hours in the bottle world but unfortunately, too many folks from afar are not coming as they can not get in. You see, there is no early admission. This has lead to a number of tables being vacant on Saturday and it has become just a typical set-up period. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to see friends and walk around but the excitement has been gone for the past three or so years. No fear though, because all that excitement does arrive in full force the next morning. All table were full to capacity by then!
My take-away bottle memory from Saturday was seeing the last of Jim Hagenbuch’s great bitters that he laid out for sale (see case above). There were Drakes Plantation Bitters in moss green, blue-green, olive green and yellow-green and believe me, they were jaw droppers, and so were the prices. Makes sense to me as these were the best of the best. Jim even had the bulbous, expanded Drakes for sale which is pictured above. This bottle is nicer than I thought and could be viewed as a work of art rather than a freak. I believe the price was $85k. Quite something. This made my evening. There was also a Plantation Bitters, Carey’s Grecian Bend and a National Tonic Bitters. Wow o’ wow.
Later Saturday evening, Jerry, Elizabeth and I headed back downtown for steaks at Flemings. This was good as it was next to our hotel. I didn’t mention this before, but Elizabeth and I had been carrying around this nagging cough and head cold all week and we had been taking care of each other. It felt like we were pulling an anchor half the time. Oh well. At least we kept moving albeit a bit slower and we were off to bed a bit earlier.
With the sleep we needed, we awoke early on Sunday morning and were promptly at the show by 6:30 am or so. We again set up the Federation table and headed out on the floor. This is when all the tables are decked out and you can see some really great bottles before the public comes in at 8:00 am.
I am sometimes asked what bottle was the star of the show? The Scroll Flask above was recently obtained by John Pastor for his next American Glass Gallery auction. Embossed “J R & Son” for John Robinson & Son, Pittsburgh, 1830 – 1834. This flask, hands down, was the best of the show, best of the year and maybe more. Look at the coloration. Usually darker at the bottlem, this flask is darker at the top with striations. It came from an estate in Nebraska if you can believe that! The color is off-the-chart great!
So what were the great bitters besides the Hagenbuch grouping mentioned above? Look at this cool Wheeler’s Berlin Bitters stoneware bar jug above and this Uncle Sams Wild Cherry Bitters from Bob Watson that walked in the door. Heh! I thought I owned the ONLY example!
G A L L E R Y
Here are some pictures I took at the show. I have tried to caption them the best I can. Another great year in Baltimore, my home town. The cold air didn’t bother me at all!