Dr. Renz's Herb Bitters Bottle Brings A Record $24,150 in Part 1
of The Mel Hammer Collection Sold Online December 10-19
The online auction was held by American Bottle Auctions, headquartered in Sacramento.
Offerings included schnapps and gin bottles, bitters bottles and inkwells, most with 9.5 grades.
Sacramento, CA, USA, December 29, 2021 -- A Dr. Renz’s Herb Bitters bottle (San Francisco, circa
1868-1881), 9 ¾ inches tall, with a uniquely styled applied tapered top (one of maybe four known), light
lime green in color, sold for $24,150 in the online-only sale #72 of Part 1 of the Mel Hammer bottle
collection, which began December 10th and ended December 19th, by American Bottle Auctions.
The Mel Hammer collection is an incredible hoard gathered over a 50-year span by a man who
dedicated much of his adult life to the acquisition and study of antique glass. Part 1 featured many of
Mr. Hammer’s favorites, such as schnapps and gin bottles, bitters bottles and inkwells, many boasting
9.5 grades. Part 2 will be held in March. Mr. Hammer died on Thanksgiving Day.
The Dr. Renz’s Herb Bitters was easily the top achiever in the 137-bottle auction and the price was a
new auction record. A winner at the 1869 California State Fair, the bottle is one of just a handful known
with the unique style tapered top. It was undoubtedly the first embossed bottle made for this bitters. All
known examples have a green hue, with crudity consistent with the era.
“The bitters stole the show, but there were some very respectful bids in all categories,” said Jeff
Wichmann, the owner of American Bottle Auctions. “We were amazed at some of the prices of the
squares and inkwells. For instance, out of the sixty or so early squares – including gins, schnapps and
sarsaparillas – fifteen did a thousand dollars or more. One gin sold for $10,925.”
That was lot #64, a bright medium green Wister’s Clubhouse gin bottle having an applied top with the
earlier sticky ball type pontil. These bottles are very popular with collectors, as th