Session III of the Thomas McCandless collection; the three sessions combined hit $1 million.

(WOODSTOCK, Conn.) – A rare and historical portrait flask showing strong busts of George Washington and Henry Clay, made circa 1840-1860 by Bridgeton Glass Works (N.J.), soared to $52,650 in the Internet and catalog auction of Session III of the Thomas McCandless lifetime bottle collection. The auction went online Jan. 18 and accepted its final bid on Feb. 1.

The portrait flask was the top lot in a session that grossed around $440,000. Combined, all three sessions (the first two were held this past fall) grossed a little over $1 million. “For a single bottle collection to top the $1 million mark is truly extraordinary,” said Norman Heckler, Sr., of Norman C. Heckler & Company, the Woodstock-based firm that conducted the auctions.

“Mr. McCandless’s lifetime collection represented one of the most diverse and colorful groupings of American bottles and glass to recently come to market,” Mr. Heckler remarked. “The rare and unique historical flasks exceeded pre-sale estimates, as well as our expectations. Early American and European black glass was another category that did unbelievably well.”

The Washington-Clay historical flask was the auction’s star lot, and for good reason. A common bottle in mold design, in an unlisted and extremely rare vibrant light yellowish color with a topaz tone, the flask’s bold portrait busts beautifully complemented its crisp lettering and perfect condition. The blown quart bottle with strong embossing was an exceptional example.

Only two lots of the 123 offered went unsold in an auction that had about 600 registered online bidders (who participated directly through the Norman C. Heckler & Company website, at www.hecklerauction.com). Phone and absentee bidding was also brisk. About one-third of the lots sold exceeded their high estimates.

“The bottle and glass market remains very strong within the context of a broader antique market that has softened over the past several years,” Norman Heckler, Jr., observed. “Glass as an antique collecting category has drawn interest from collectors who recognize the historical significance and beauty of antique bottles and glass. Many also feel, too, that it is a greatly undervalued category.”

Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 17 percent buyer’s premium.
The aforementioned black glass was highlighted by a very early English shaft and globe wine bottle (circa 1630-1665) that fetched $12,870. “Like all the black glass, this bottle attracted strong attention from both American and international quarters,” Mr. Heckler said.

Two other black glass examples are worth noting. One was an early English wine bottle (1776), in the traditional form, a big bold bottle with a very large seal and in very fine condition. The “1776” date, which appeared on the bottle as well as in the seal, generated interest not only from American collectors but their English counterparts, too, owing to the historical significance.

The other black glass piece was another early English wine bottle in a cylindrical pancake form (circa 1680-1700), in wonderful condition. It changed hands for $6,435. The bottle boasted a dense yellow olive coloration with a bluish cast, a sheared mouth with strong rim and a pontil scar.

Stiegel bottles, always a hit with collectors, were also in the sale. These have long been desired for their beauty and because they date back to pre-Revolutionary War America. These items are beautiful and interesting, high-quality bottles (made by a Baron Von Stiegel, who brought to America an army of skilled German workers while the U.S. while still in its infancy).

One Stiegel bottle that wowed bidders was a relatively scarce, 225-year-old example in the Diamond Daisy pattern that soared to $16,380. The bottle had a marvelously strong mold impression, a pure and crisp amethystine color (that was more vibrant than most examples), and a near-perfect condition. The pattern molded pocket bottle was made circa 1774.

Returning to historical flasks (which dominated the top ten for prices realized), a pair of bottles posted identical selling prices of $30,420. The first was a Washington portrait flask, mde by the Albany Glass Works (N.Y.) circa 1848-1850. The half-pint flask had an extremely rare light golden yellow color, boldly embossed bust of Washington and lettering in great condition.

The other was a Washington-Taylor portrait flask made by the Dyottville Glss Works (Philadelphia, circa 1840-1860). It was a common bottle mold in a most uncommon and quite beautiful medium-to-deep claret color. “The market today is all about color,” Mr. Heckler said. “The condition and mold impression simply add to the attractiveness and desirability of an item.”

Rounding out the list of top lots is another Washington-Taylor portrait flask, made by the same glassworks company at around the same time as the above example. It realized $29,250. The quart flask was ginger ale-colored, with apricot striations. “The wild color striation on an otherwise common bottle became a much coveted lot for its obvious eye candy,” Heckler said.

Norman C. Heckler & Company’s next Internet and catalog auction is slated to go online March 7 and will conclude March 21. The sale will feature a rare and diverse grouping of early glass, bottles, flasks, pottery, antiques and select Americana. The next after that one, with bottles, flasks, pottery and Victorian Art Glass, will go online May 16 and end on May 30.

Norman C. Heckler & Company was founded in 1987 as a full-service auction and appraisal firm. Today it is the foremost auction house for antique glass. In October 2010, the firm set a record for an antique glass bottle at auction when a General Jackson eagle portrait flask sold for $176,670. In addition to glass Heckler’s also offers early American antique objects.

Norman C. Heckler & Company is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To inquire about consigning a single piece or an entire collection, you may call them at (860) 974-1634; or, you can e-mail them at [email protected] To learn more about the company’s upcoming calendar of auction events, please log on to www.hecklerauction.com

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