Saturday, March 5, 2016

Heckler & Co. Auction 133, Spring 2016

Large New England Pitkin-type flask, 36 rib broken swirl pattern, 7 inches tall.
 Heckler's is starting the 2016 season with one of their Premier auctions, which includes some spectacular Connecticut glassware. Especially notable in this auction is an abundance of very high-end Coventry Glass Works bottles, many of them from the Gary and Arlette Johnson collection.

Closeup of the label on the Pitkin flask.
Included in the sale are a number of Pitkin-type flasks, the most interesting of which is the unusually large, pint-sized specimen, of New England and likely Connecticut origin, pictured here. It has an early label, reading "Bourbon Whiskey / sold by Frank R. Hadley / Druggist & Chemist / New Bedford, Mass." with the monogram FRH on a fan. The label possibly isn't quite as old as the flask. Antique flasks that retain labels frequently seem to have been sold by druggists, and to have contained hard liquor or medicinal concoctions that were also mostly made of liquor. 

Free blown salt, likely Coventry Glass Works.
This pontiled, free blown New England salt was probably a Coventry Glass Works product. The color and form are consistent with known Coventry tableware, but the strongest evidence of origin in this case is that the salt was recovered by a picker from an old Coventry house.

"Dr H. W. Jackson / Druggist / Vegetable / Howe Syrup," a very rare, likely Coventry, pontiled medicine bottle.
Coventry "La Fayette / De Witt Clinton" flasks, GI-80 and GI-81
Coventry "La Fayette / De Witt Clinton" flask, GI-82
The trio of Lafayette - De Witt Clinton flasks is a desirable group of Coventry Glass Works bottles. The GI-82 half pint is a rare bottle in a nice, light, olive-yellow amber color, but this particular specimen has a wing of extra glass at the mold seam in the neck and such a mushy impression that most of the lettering is illegible verging on indiscernible. It's charming in its way, but must have bordered on being a factory defect to be tossed into the cullet basket.

Moon, star and hourglass masonic flask, GIV-29
This auction preview was probably about as close as I'm ever going to get to two masonic flasks, probably Coventry items but rare enough that the attribution is apparently equivocal, that are not quite at the top of the price scale of antique American bottles, but are still likely to sell for more than the cost of sensible new car. The hourglass GIV-29 is extremely rare, and probably unique in this medium, nearly pure green color, according to Norm C. Heckler. The other known examples have a more olive hue. The shape of this flask is interesting, with its oval outline but finely corrugated sides, which seem like they could be a design intermediate between the earliest Connecticut sunburst and Masonic flasks with angular shoulders and bold corrugations, and later flasks like the Coventry railroad and cornucopia flasks with simpler designs that lack the horizontal ribbing.

Square and compass with backwards "G" / star and keys masonic flask, GIV-30. Reverse and obverse of the same specimen.
The Coventry GIV-30 masonic flask is thought to be slightly less rare than the GIV-29, but is likely to bring a higher price at auction. An example in a similar light color, but severely cracked, sold for more than $4000 in a recent Heckler auction.