Bottles, Advertising, and Color
I thought I’d better get to work since I haven’t written an update since July. Since the last blog, I’ve been too three bottle shows (Picked up some nice bottles of course), a wedding, took a vacation, and squeezed in two fishing trips. Now it’s time to catch upon on some bottle stuff.
As I’ve written before in my previous blogs, I’ve always thought there are three things that keep fueling the growth and interest in the hobby of bottle collecting; Bottle clubs and their members, Monthly bottle shows sponsored by the clubs, and Variety of items made available for the collectors at these shows. The three bottle shows that I recently attended are great examples, and tie into my “Bottles, Advertising, and Color” theme for this blog; The San Diego Bottle Club Show in June, The FOHBC Sacramento National Antique Bottle Convention & Expo in August, and the Los Angeles Historical Bottle Club Show in September.
The one thing in common at all three of these shows wasn’t necessarily the selection of bottles, or the array of advertising such as posters, artwork, advertising cards, beer trays, and labels and placards, but how all the colors of these items jumped out at me when displayed together. Every bottle collector has heard the term, “Color is King”, along with Condition, but it’s also the same way with advertising.. It’s almost like looking at the 20 outstanding displays that were featured at the FOHBC Expo in August (To quote Ferdinand Myers, President of the FOHBC, “You could rely on every person who visited the displays to say an extra “Wow” to all displays). As a note, I’ve been to many shows during my 45+ years of collecting, and the Sacramento EXPO set the bar high for all future FOHBC EXPO”s. It was absolutely amazing!
To further highlight the allure of antique advertising and color, below in italics are excerpts from an article written on August 6, 2016 for The Journal of Antique and Collectibles, “Antique Advertising at Auction: When Color Became King:, by Mike Eckles, Co-owner with wife Lori, of Showtime Auctions located in Woodhaven, MI. I’ve provided the following link if you would like to read the entire article. http://journalofantiques.com/2016/features/antique-advertising-auction-color-became-king/. For further information for Showtime Auctions, you can visit their website at www.showtimeauctions.com, or email at email@example.com.
In the last ten years, antique advertising has become a very popular lot in auction arenas around the country. The category is made up mostly of posters and signs but also includes calendars, banners, chargers and trays. Printed advertising as we know it has been around for hundreds of years, starting with simple signs denoting the trade practiced at a particular shop, to lengthy advertisements in newspapers and printed magazines. It is however, examples produced from 1880 to 1925, when color lithography began and quickly gained in popularity, that are considered the most sought after and desirable among advanced collectors. Some of the specialized printing during that period included ink containing gold in the red and silver in the blue, producing some of the most colorful and vibrant images for advertising. And from then forward came colorful graphics printed on almost every surface available.
During the key segment of advertising history in the late 18th and early 20th centuries, all a company needed to get their name on the walls of general stores, cigar stores, saloons, drug stores, soda fountains, hardware stores, etc. was to hire an artist to portray their product in a colorful image, create the poster, and get the store owner to hang it on their walls.
As early as 1975, the extraordinary beauty of these pieces caught the eye of people who wanted something aesthetically beautiful to grace the walls of their home and business. It wasn’t until 1989 when Peter Sidlow of Los Angeles, California sold his advertising collection at Noel Barrett’s auction house in New Hope, PA, that people started taking notice. Signs that were then selling for several hundred dollars sold for several thousand dollars at this auction.
The next significant auction that created a big stir was the George Cross collection offered in 2008 by Showtime Auction Services in Ann Arbor, Michigan. One example of a growing interest was realized by the sale of a Buffalo Brewing Tin Charger that had typically fetched $10,000 in the past but sold at this auction for $57,750.00 (including buyer’s premium). The amount of collectors seems to be doubling and tripling nearly every year. This increase in demand has kept the prices up and they are continuing to rise. The extraordinary color and graphics displayed in advertising signs creates a compelling esthetic value.
Much of the most beautiful examples of the artwork involved are for alcohol, tobacco and firearms. These companies were the most successful at that time. Therefore, it was easier for them to afford the best artists and the finest printers in the U.S. Some of the original paintings from these artists are fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction houses today. As you can imagine, subject matter plays an important part of the value of advertising signs. It is not a surprise that nude women rank at the top of list. These mostly appeared in signs advertising Whiskey or Tobacco and were found hanging on the walls of establishments catering to men such as saloons. Cowboys, cowgirls, Indians and pretty women are favorites for collectors living our West. Animals, children and everyday people doing everyday things are popular with collectors in the East.
The signs, posters and calendars put out by makers of farm implements, wagons and equipment were spectacular. Some of the best color is found on paper or tin advertising a steam engine or thrasher. Some other categories that are popular among collectors are drugs, soda, grocery, hardware, millinery, tools, cleansers, soap, shaving, furniture, seed, insurance, candy, stoves, railroad, cutlery, transportation, and clocks.
For anyone just now starting to get the collecting bug, I would suggest taking a serious look at the advertising category. Donna and Bruce Weir of Indiana are promoters of a wonderful Antique Advertising Show in Indianapolis twice a year with a large assortment of signs, trays, calendars, tins and much more. Visit their website at www.indyadshow.com for more information. The Antique Advertising Association of America, better known as Quad A, offers great information. For more about this organization, visit www.pastimes.org. They publish 4 newsletters a year and have a convention for the members each summer.
There’s probably a great Bottle Show, Antique Sale, Flea Market, or an Auction close to home that will also have great examples of Advertising, and probably a few bottles. Keep Having Fun with the Hobby of Bottle Collecting……..Mike