Welcome back, this is my 9th post, so I’ll slow things down with a leisurely bike ride. Oddly enough, that’s how I got my next unlisted soda bottle. I decided to bike down the South County Bike Path to Wakefield, RI and do some antiquing. I stumbled across a small antique store I’ve never been to, and found a few keepers. Among them was a Gladstone Spring’s Water Co. Narragansett Pier, RI. These bottles are around, but I noted this one was handmade, making it considerably scarcer. Mine was clear and had Spring’s instead of Spring, while the only listed one was aqua. I was afraid to bike back with it since it didn’t fit securely in my pack, so I left it nearby at my friend David Gate’s house who also has a great (ok, and better) collection of Gladstone bottles. His includes two seltzers, an unlisted small size, and a massive embossed demijohn. Someday…
Google searches for specific RI bottles are good for research, but not for when you want to find bottles for sale. But, every now and then, something will surface. I got a hit last year on a collector’s for sale website on a rare spring water bottle. It was embossed Green Valley Spring Water Pettaconsett, RI. Now Bill Rose had beaten me to finding one of these by a few months, which he sold to another collector. His however, was aqua while this one was clear. A little research showed that Pettaconsett was part of Cranston, and today the name only exists as a small side road. I paid a total of $39 to have it shipped to my door, which was not bad considering the gallon size and rarity.
I recently discovered the Stillwater Antique Center, and while it’s a little hike to get there, I can always find at least one bottle to make it worthwhile. I always liked how the center was situated in this old stone mill. Of course, that leads to the rather obvious conclusion that gee, there must be bottles behind this place! So, off I went, bushwhacking my way to the rear of the mill. Unfortunately, there was this large circa-1900 addition in the back that disturbed/covered the best place to look, and the shallow river was very rocky, making shards plentiful. I came across this nice rock shelf jutting out over the river, and suddenly spotted a bottle sticking out of the ground! It was an ACL Yacht Club Beverages soda bottle, and while the label was faded, I didn’t have one yet. Digging was very hard since there were more roots than dirt, but soon I had about 20 Coca-Cola bottles and three Yacht Clubs. I was excited to uncover an unfamiliar art deco soda, and to my delight, saw that it was a Yacht Club Bottling Wks. Centerdale, RI bottle! A visit to the Yacht Club Bottling Works (still in business) down the road helped confirm my hunch that this was probably the rarest Yacht Club bottle around. Even though it was damaged it’s a standout bottle in the RI art deco category.
A recent advertisement on Craigslist led me to the house of an East Providence digger. While not up to his neck in bottles, he had about 200 for me to pick through. I left with a box of RI bottles for $25, which mostly consisted of sodas. One of the more interesting trios in the lot was from J. Keron of Central Falls, RI. He sold a drink called Herbola, or Herbol depending on the bottle you come across. One BIM crown top with all the embossing in the slugplate (including Herbola) was unlisted, and another similarly embossed example lacking the Herbola part was also unlisted. I’m almost positive that Mr. Keron later went on to start the Central Falls Bottling Co. that put out the very successful Kerona soda, which one can easily dig up at your nearest 1940s dump.
Every now and then I will notice a trend on ebay. In particular, I noticed that as people retire and move to Florida, they take a lot of bottles with them, some of which are quite nice. I almost couldn’t believe it when I found a listing for an embossed City Drug Store Block Island, RI medicine bottle. Block Island bottles are some of the rarest and most sought after southern RI bottles around. I only knew of three at the time, two were milk bottles, and the other a Cundall & Ball’s Pharmacy. It was a very long week as I waited for the final day of the auction. I put in a high bid knowing I’d likely never see one of these again, and was happy to win it at the fairly low price of $41. I later found out that Cundall & Ball did indeed run the City Drug Store. Now to get over to Block Island to do some digging!