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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Remember that urge to dig you had as a child? Are 19th century artifacts still buried in your backyard?
Article by Antique Trader Staff

Remember that urge to dig you had as a child? Some people never grow out of it. I don't blame them because there's treasure buried under the dirt and ash that fill 17th and 18th century privy and cistern holes.

Back in 2009 I had a chance to talk in depth with privy digger Rick Weiner of Allentown, Pa.

He gave me all the ins and outs of digging and shared some of the phenomenal finds he's uncovered.

Today I opened my email to get an exciting update.

Rick was digging an old 1870s cistern and uncovered some great items. He says he usually stays away from cisterns (underground storage tanks for rainwater): "Digging cisterns are a gamble, but this one payed off for us."

Rick sent these photos of the items he found in the 1870s cistern: (Note they are in perfect, undamaged condition.) A salt-glazed jug, a very old beer mug, and a stoneware beer bottle ... all supporting evidence: the cistern belonged to a tavern. Another exciting find he shares is from a privy: a trio of carved pipe heads.

Here part of the story of Rick Weiner:

Rick Weiner is a digger. He started digging bottles at the age of 15, when his grandmother got him hooked by having him help her dig for store stock in a 1920s milk bottle dump. She was co-owner of the Barn Store, an antique store in the Pocono Mountains.
His primary choice of digging sites has changed since the early digs with his grandmother. Now, he prefers to excavate old outhouse pits that were in use from the 1850s to the turn of the 20th century. Anything after 1900 is “too new” for his collecting interest. In his opinion, the coolest bottles are from before 1903, which was when the automatic bottle machine came into service and pushed hand-made bottles out of production.

It’s finding these old 19th century bottles that makes his collecting world go round; he says, “The more good stuff you find, the more you want to dig and find better stuff.”

When he’s lining up digs, he finds houses that were built from the 1850s-1870s and asks the homeowners’ permission to dig. After getting permission, he checks the property lines and starts to look for the privy sites. It may be as simple as looking for a depression where the ground has settled unevenly, or it may take careful and patient probing to find the sites. He says sometimes when you’re probing and can’t find the pit perimeter, you just have to rest, clear your mind, and try again.

Patience pays off. On one digging occasion, they found 14 privies in three yards, which kept them busy digging for two years.

In his digs, he has found everything from 1850s druggist bottles to the quack medicine bottles so popular in the 1800s to poison and eight-sided soda bottles. Of course he’s found items other than bottles as well. After all, anything that was carried along on the trip to the outhouse was potential privy fodder.

Rick has had several articles published in Antique Bottle & Glass Collector magazine. He has also recorded his most memorable digs and posted many of his most memorable finds on his Web site,

Also watch this utube video of him at work and some finds.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Antique Glass Salt & Sugar Shaker Club

One of the more specialized glass-collecting clubs in the nation is The Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club. Though highly specialized, the AGSSSC will be taking part in the Mega Glass Convention, which will be held July 7-9, 2011.

The Club was founded by the late Dottie and Bill Avery in 1983 with the mission to encourage, promote and support the collection and study of late 19th and early 20th century glass salt and sugar shakers. The AGSSSC also aims to stimulate interest and education of members and the general public about antique shakers by providing written documentation, research, news articles and opportunities for meetings and discussions on specific related topics, such as coil-top salt shakers, early carnival shakers and Vaseline shakers. The Club is also highly active and an instrumental resource in identifying and valuing antique shakers.

AGSSSC members are entitled to attend the annual convention as well as receive the Club newsletter, “The Pioneer,” which is published several times each year. The cost of membership is only $25 per year per family. Susan Ryan, president of the Club, says the greatest benefit is sharing knowledge and forming new friendships. She says, “It’s great to be able to share your passion with another individual who appreciates your enthusiasm for shakers without saying, ‘You collect what?!’”

With 165 current members, the organization is large enough to move about the country for their national conventions but small enough, and tight-knit enough to hold “mini-conventions” – events where a member will host a get-together for sharing collecting experiences and the displays in their homes.

The AGSSSC’s annual conventions began in 1986, and have been held throughout the United States. What the convention locations have in common is they are usually held near a museum with a large glass exhibit. The 2009 convention was held in Corning, N.Y., and club took a tour of The Corning Museum of Glass.

Ryan said the most popular activity at the national convention is “room hopping.” It is a time for members to renew old friendships and also allows a member to see and maybe buy a hard-to-find shaker or two, either directly from another member, or at the shaker auction. Also popular are the competitive displays; different categories are represented and voted on by the attendees.

This year, from July 7-9, the Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club will be taking part in the Mega Glass Convention in Overland Park (Kansas City), Kans. Some of the other participants in the Mega Glass Convention include the National Toothpick Holders Collectors Society, the Early American Pattern Glass Society, and the National American Glass Club, just to name a few. The Mega Convention will take place at the Marriott Overland Park Hotel.

Learn more about the AGSSSC or v contact membership chairman Jan Eldridge at 413-783-4629.

AGSSSC’s Identification Project among valuable club benefits

The Identification Project has been a key activity of the AGSSS club. Many members have beautiful shakers that have not been pictured in literature. In order to give those shakers a “pedigree,” the club took on the challenge of establishing an “Identification Project.” AGSSSC members submit an “unknown” shaker to the identification committee for review.

The committee then researches the shaker to see if it can be found in any published literature, including old catalogs. All information found on the shaker is then published in “The Pioneer” for review and for further research by members. To date, the club has successfully reviewed more than 1,000 shakers and assigned names to a majority of them. This is an exclusive Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club benefit.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Mom always fussed--look with your eyes not your hands. Well according to this study Mom was/is wrong.

According to an MIT study touching an object influences your judgement about what to buy!!

The study found that shoppers had more confident impressions when they touched something. Most collectors already know this but some whom have grown up in the computer age only shop online, they are then sometimes disappointed in their choices.

So if you are one who frequents shows,shops,flea markets, etc, where you can feel collectibles instead of buying online you are being smart according to the study. TOUCH always helps us to make better decisions. Also some reproductions such as iron objects can't be detected unless touched. Many reproduction iron pieces are rough textured to the touch, where as old iron is much smoother to the touch. Another good example is buying chairs, without touch you do not know if it sits hard or soft and if sturdy or rickety.

If you are in my shop and I ask if I can open a case and let you see something better or up close and you hesitate, I then may remark-- I won't make you buy it, just letting you see better.

I really am giving you the chance to make a better decision.