Caveat Emptor ("Let the buyer beware!")

November 18, 2014

Deja Vu All Over Again!

Regular readers likely remember the nuked Jacksonville, Florida Hutchinson we featured in June, 2013.  It was advertised as an authentic, original, amber Hutchinson, but when the auction winner received it in the mail, he instantly recognized it had actually been irradiated and he was very fortunate to obtain a refund. 

The seller has apparently decided the fallout from last year's ill-fated sale has cleared and THIS FAKE IS LISTED ON GREEDYBAY AGAIN!  Unfortunately, the next buyer may not be as lucky as the previous one.  The new listing is #151219846882, and states:

RARE !! c1890 AMBER HUTCH SODA embossed on the front " KORNAHRENS & WEDDING  JACKSONVILLE,FLA. " and on the back " THIS BOTTLE NOT TO BE SOLD ".The Bottle has hand finished lip with minor wear and there is a small chip about 1/4 in. on the bottom edge.No other chips or cracks, 6 5/8 in. tall.

This bottle is number FL0074 in the HutchBook database.  It is known only in aqua and it is Common, not Rare.  Once again the seller's listing doesn't reveal that this bottle has been irradiated, turning it a sickly brownish color he is advertising as "amber."  It isn't difficult to understand why this seller continues to nuke bottles, given the fact people continue to throw ridiculous amounts of money at them.  What baffles me is that buyers are not posting negative feedback, given the quantity of nuked bottles and jars he is routinely peddling.  How can NONE of the buyers not realize they have been defrauded?  $118.50 for a "citron" Dr. Kilmer's?  $55.55 for a "citron" Mason's 1858 jar?  This nuked Hutchinson has been re-listed for just over 24 hours and it already has twelve bids from four bidders.  No doubt there will be lots more money thrown at it.  Wake up people!

Updated February 6, 2014: The auction for this fake drew 22 bids from five bidders and closed at $72.00 + $9.00 P&H.  Inspired by how much loot this fraudulent offering brought, another seller (apparently the same one using a different GreedyBay ID) listed a "citron" (also nuked) example of FL0086 as GreedyBay 251443280273 that sold for $59.99 + $9.00 P&H via Buy-It-Now.  This seller has numerous other irradiated bottles listed, including a "lite citron" (also nuked) Jacksonville Steam Hutchinson that currently has no bids, but 10 "watchers."  It is just a matter of time until it too ends up going to an unsuspecting buyer. 

Updated February 18, 2014: Sure enough, the nuked Jacksonville Steam Hutchinson we mentioned above (GreedyBay 251443266581) sold.  The seller cut his Buy-It-Now price to $37.49 + $9.00 P&H, and someone just couldn't resist throwing money at this fake.  No feedback has been posted thus far.  Given the huge quantity of irradiated bottles this seller is peddling, it is amazing the only negative posted came from a buyer who stated "Seller has many irradiated bottles/no mention of color alteration in description" after paying $49.99 for a supposedly amber (nuked) Codd bottle.

April 6, 2011

"It's The Real Thing!"  NOT!

Two more siphons with faked labels caught my eyes during the past week.  Both situations turned my stomach and left me not knowing whether to cry or throw up.

GreedyBay #260760182435 was described as a "RARE VINTAGE COCA COLA GREEN SELTZER BOTTLE SODA."  Alas, I opened the item to discover it was yet another of the foreign siphons with a fake "Coca-Cola" etching.  This listing was different, however, as the sellers didn't appear to be the usual con artists peddling these, masking bidder IDs, etc.  The sellers indicated the bottle was "found at an auction in Sussex County VA...Please EMail any info you might have, as I have no idea what all the numbers and letters stand for."  I decided to indeed help the sellers and sent them this message: 

Hi. You are clearly reputable sellers, so I thought it worthy of sending a heads-up that your siphon bottle has a fake Coca-Cola etching.  It is unfortunate you were victimized at the auction where you acquired the bottle, and perhaps they too were conned.  Rather than your passing the bottle on to an unsuspecting buyer, I suggest you check out these two reference sources. The first is an eBay Guide ( authored by Roger Peters, a noted authority on Wisconsin soda bottles.  The second is the 'Caveat Emptor' portion of one of my sites devoted to, amongst other things, siphon bottles with fake etchings (  Read the descriptions, view the photos, and you'll understand your bottle is foreign in origin and the etching is fake.  You are welcome to post this message.  Ron F., and

Here's the seller's response:

Thanks.  I'll check it out.

Pffft!  The sellers didn't pull the listing or post my message, and let the auction run until it closed with six bids at $41 + $15  P&H.  The winning bidder probably thinks he/she obtained a real treasure, yet they were knowingly defrauded.  Ridiculous!

The second siphon I'm watching is GreedyBay 280653083252.  This one is described as a "Vintage Coca Cola Green Seltzer Bottle w/Sprite Boy."  The description is partially correct - this is an older, plain siphon bottle to which someone has applied one of the Coca-Cola sprite decals typically produced for Coke vending machines.  With an opening price of $195 + $16 P&H, one would like to think no one would be foolish enough to spend $211 on this fantasy item, but then again, who knows.   

Time to close this up and go eat some saltine crackers to settle my churning stomach!

March 10, 2011

More "Too Good To Be True" Scams!

It has been awhile since I have bothered to post anything about the con artists who continue to fake acid-etching on siphons and other bottles, and then peddle them on GreedyBay to naive bidders who are apparently too busy to check the validity of items that are "too good to be true" (because they aren't!).  Just so these crooks don't think I've forgotten them, here are more examples of bottles that recently sold via GreedyBay.  The first is yet another foreign siphon with a faked etching: item # 280632318790 etched  Pepsi-Cola / BOTTLING CO. / RENO NEVADA.  It drew 14 bids and sold for $107.57 (+$15.95 P&H).  Item # 160549453525, was etched GREAT NORTHERN / (mountain goat image) / RAILWAY.  It attracted 12 bids and went for $157.50 (+$14.95 P&H).  The same crook who sold the faked Reno siphon also listed the illustrated WINCHESTER / GUN OIL, another bottle with a faked etching.  Item #280638061469 ended with 14 bids and closed at $139.16 (+$14.95 P&H). 

Check out these sellers' feedback and if you recognize any of the bidders' GreedyBay IDs, please let us know.  If we can identify the sellers names and locations, we can turn our attention to their states' attorney general office.  Clearly GreedyBay isn't going to take any action to stop these scams, but that doesn't mean we can't seek other ways to put them out of business!

Caveat emptor! 

August 15, 2010

To Paint Or Not To Paint...

My ongoing campaign to curtail the permanent alteration of glass colors via the process of irradiation generated some very interesting food-for-thought from Robert Wayne Fults, a long-time collector of Eastern Texas and Western Louisiana Hutchinsons, fellow HBCA member, and very supportive Hutchinson specialist.  R.W. writes:

Many Hutchinson collectors appreciate your efforts to discourage the permanent alteration of glass with irradiation.  Bottle painting also needs to be addressed.  What has been done is in the past and we need to stop this practice now.

Some collectors have been painting the embossing, and sometimes other features, on their Hutchinson bottles since before I started collecting.  Many of the people who paint their Hutchinsons are long-time collectors who got started before we had digital cameras, the Internet, and bottle cleaning machines.  Some of the largest and most desirable collections have been painted, and it does highlight markings and aid photography.  Today, however, many of us like to tumble clean our bottles and display them as closely as possible to the way they looked when in service.  If we acquire one of these “painted on” bottles we may find that damage is hidden under the paint or that the embossing has been permanently altered.

Some may say that this paint will come “off” the glass; maybe so, but it will not necessarily come “out” of the glass.  If there is any rubble, like where the embossing has been chipped or ground off, the paint can penetrate the bottle and can only be removed by picking it out of the glass.

I have had best results treating some of the affected bottles by soaking them in acetone, brushing with fine bristles while still moist, and picking the remains with a needle.  But, the “painted on” Hutchinson with rubble on the embossing may never be as it was when in service.

An Internet seller may use a Magic Marker type pen before taking pictures and that thin liquid really goes deep into scuffed embossing or any place the glass is not slick.  The seller may say that it can be removed, but that may not be so. 

R.W. and I are in complete agreement on painted embossings.  Although in some instances painting makes it easier to read embossed lettering, it isn't "natural," and therefore I have personally never liked it in the 49+ years I have been collecting bottles.  Several long-time collector friends paint their bottles' embossings and we've simply agreed to disagree on the advisability of this individual collecting preference.

August 8, 2010

"I" before "E" except after "C"...

No, your eyes are not deceiving you; that is the same FRED ROSHIRT / REGISTERED / SCHODACK CENTRE / RENSSELAER CO. / NEW YORK irradiated Hutchinson pictured in the 07-13-2010 "Caveat Emptor" entry posted below.  This is not a duplicate; it's the very bottle that sold for $9.98 (+P&H) 07-19-10 when the current seller was the sole bidder for it and the nuked COSMOPOLITAN BOTTLING CO. / 617 McCLELLAN ST. / PHILADELPHIA, PA. also pictured above.  The second seller labeled it "very rare," which is true, but there's no indication he/she/they are aware of the "SCHODACK" embossing error, so the rarity rating may have merely been a lucky guess.  Alas, the color was described as "nice" and there was no mention of the fact the bottle has been irradiated.  Sale #2 has closed with a new-to-GreedyBay bidder placing a second insurance bid to lock in an auction win for $15.00.  The "MINT CONDITION" (wrong!) Cosmopolitan was originally listed at $25, and the opening price dropped to $20 where it continues to draw no bids.  Will these "hot potatoes" be sold again soon?

I almost didn't know where to begin with the aqua bottle pictured above.  It took awhile to get past the spelling errors (note the user ID), and longer still to figure out the origin of this "Blob Top Beer Bottle Preprohabition."  The listing didn't detail any embossing, but a close examination of a photo revealed TRADE / CCBCo (monogram) / MARK / REGISTERED on one side.  This is one of 24 Hutchinson variants we have catalogued for the Chicago Consolidated Bottling Company and Common.  Mercifully, the auction closes this evening and I doubt there will be any bids.  My point here really isn't to pick on what are apparently inexperienced sellers who happen to have a Hutchinson soda bottle they hope to sell.  The Hutchinson Bottle Sales Guide is designed to provide considerable guidance to such folks.  The challenge is making it as easy as possible for people to find and such information.  What else can we do to advertise, explain, communicate, and promote Hutchinson bottles to the public?  Suggestions? 

The final bottle is being offered by yet another Florida GreedyBay seller who often lists irradiated Hutchinsons.  Unfortunately, he/they nuked a Rare DAVE MORNINGSTAR / SALEM / OHIO / REGISTERED, the sixth different Hutchinson we have catalogued for this bottler.  The color is described as "deep purple" with no mention of the word "irradiated."  Just an oversight?  Doubtful.  Check the sellers' "Completed listings" and note there is never a mention of selling irradiated bottles.  Isn't that "fraudulent?"  Oh, wait, it's a GreedyBay listing and they don't care.  Caveat emptor! 

July 13, 2010 (see July 22, 2010 update posted below)

How Not To Sell Hutchinsons...

The Hutchinson bottles pictured below are currently listed for sale at an on-line auction service.  Individual item numbers have been intentionally omitted because we see no reason to promote sales by someone who continually demonstrates such blatant disregard for historical artifacts.  The auction service proprietors continue to turn deaf ears to our on-going efforts to have this sellers' auctions banned.   

Here's the sales methodology this dealer uses for peddling his wares:

Please help by refusing to buy bottles from this seller, particularly Hutchinsons!

(July 22, 2010 update: The J. Esposito drew bids from three people and sold for $20.50.  The Shodack [paired with a nuked Cosmopolitan from Philadelphia] drew only one bid and sold at the opening price of $9.98.  Two bidders chased the Palatka up to a ridiculous $46.99 closing price.  P. T. Barnum was certainly right.)   

Why are GreedyBay executives condoning fraud?

May 14, 2009

Peddling foreign siphon bottles with faked etchings featuring national brand names is apparently so lucrative the crooks have branched out into faking Applied Color Labels too.  It doesn't get much more pathetic than GreedyBay 200340986777.  Wake up GreedyBay; there are no authentic etched or ACL Coon Chicken Inn siphon bottles!  This listing has drawn five (private, of course) bids and the item is at $69.23 with three days to go before the auction closes.  Sadly, this item will likely draw still more bids from naive, uninformed, DEFRAUDED bidders.  Look at all of the phony, reproduction junk this seller has listed on GreedyBay!

Once the congressional investigating committees finish grilling the bankers, auto manufacturing executives, and steroid-using sports stars, they need to subpoena the GreedyBay executives and watch them squirm while trying to explain why they are aiding and abetting the defrauding of the public. Ask your senators and congressional representatives why GreedyBay is being allowed to bank fraudulently obtained listing, final value, and PayPal fees!  Caveat emptor!

The Golden Goose Is Still Cooking!

March 31, 2008

I'm no longer holding my breath waiting for the new GreedyBay CEO to respond to my February 6, 2008 letter.  It's obvious the golden goose roasters are preoccupied with the mountain of negative press generated by their latest exorbitant fee hikes, the ridiculous masking of all bidder IDs, and the unfathonable elimination of the ability for sellers to post negative feedback for deadbeat bidders.  A GreedyBay sellers' strike is planned for May.

The "cobalt blue" (nuked) LOS ANGELES / TRADE (star) MARK / SODA WORKS Hutchinson attracted six bidders and $168.50 the second time around, far less than the $710 the first time this fraud was perpetrated.  The seller and buyer posted positive feedback for each other, but not before the seller filed a non-pay notice.  That fits right in with the buyer's 58 negative feedback postings!

No news on the Hutchinson bottle theft reported last month.  Please review the list of stolen bottles (still posted below) and watch for them.


February 28, 2008

I attended an antique bottle show in Henderson, Nevada on Feb. 15-16, 2008.  After the show several bottles were packaged in individual containers and double boxed for shipment to me in Tampa.  When the box was delivered it was empty with the exception of internal packing material.  The Hutchinson bottles included:

2. C. W. ARNOLD / SOUTH BEND, IND. (cobalt blue);
3. C. F. RILEY (Eureka, CA.) (cobalt blue);
4. DISTILLED / SODA WATER CO. / OF / ALASKA (aqua); and a
5. Codd bottle from South Africa.

I will pay a reward for any information leading to the arrest of the thief and return of these bottles.  Please contact me via telephone at 813-286-9686 or 813-888-7007 or EMail to  Thank you, R. J. Brown

Hey, eBay: the silence is deafening!

February 28, 2008

Last week's strike by eBay sellers was quite entertaining to watch.  The blogs were absolutely alive with accusations detailing eBay's apparent attempts to downplay and mask the full impact of the strike.  The eBay powers-that-be have likely heaved a collective sigh of relief and are busy calculating how many extra millions they'll bank due to the higher final value fees.  Meanwhile, thousands of totally fed up collectors are forsaking eBay and moving to and other on-line auction services that recognize and value their important collector customers.

As expected, I have received no response whatsoever to my February 6, 2008 letter to eBay's new CEO.  There's a bit of sad irony in the fact that I wrote to him about eBay's notoriously terrible communication and the deafening silence of no response only serves to further underscore my point.  It is sad to watch the eBay greed-mongers drive the company into the ground.  I'll waste no more time trying to communicate directly with them and am turning my effort to eBay stock analysts and the media instead (thanks to readers for lining these up).

If you didn't track the close of the eBay auction for the supposed "cobalt blue" (irradiated) LOS ANGELES / TRADE (star) MARK / SODA WORKS Hutchinson, two bidders ran it up to an incredible $710 closing price.  It has been 18 days since the auction closed and the (un)lucky winning bidder and seller haven't posted feedback for each other yet, so maybe there's hope the buyer won't be defrauded after all.  I said "maybe."  If eBay had a backbone they'd suspend the seller, instead of banking their exorbitant final value fees.

A letter to eBay...

February 6, 2008                                                                                       PERSONAL

Mr. John Donohoe, President and CEO-Elect
eBay Inc.
2145 Hamilton Avenue
San Jose, California 95125

Dear Mr. Donohoe:

Congratulations on your appointment as CEO of eBay.  You are obviously facing many major challenges.  The fee structure, seller incentives and standards, and feedback program changes you announced at the January 29, 2008 eBay eCommerce Forum suggest you embrace change, and that is why I am writing directly to you so early in your tenure as CEO.  While the announced policy changes may well be the end result of considerable investigation and analysis on the part of you and your staff, it appears these revisions primarily focus on improving eBay’s bottom line results, not on “improving the overall experience for eBay customers.”  Rather than changing fees, seller standards, and the feedback program, it is quite disappointing that your first public announcement as CEO failed to address eBay’s most serious shortcomings – notoriously poor communication, and on-going failure to adequately protect customers from fraudulent activities.


I can’t immediately think of any organization receiving more negative criticism for poor communication than eBay.  It is virtually impossible to contact anyone at eBay via telephone.  EMail messages generate auto-responder replies and apparently end up in electronic Never-Neverland.  I marked this letter “Personal” but have little confidence it will actually be delivered, so I am also posting a copy on my web site.  If you are kind enough to respond, I will likely post your reply.


I am the founder of the Hutchinson Bottle Collectors’ Association (HBCA).  Our members are spread across the continent and share a common interest in the collecting of antique Hutchinson soda bottles that were used in North America between 1879 and World War I. Antique bottle collecting is an enormously popular hobby enjoyed by tens of thousands of eBay customers.  

For many years, the antique bottle and Early American Pattern Glass collecting hobbies have been plagued with con artists artificially treating glass via the process of irradiation. Doing so often changes the original glass color from clear to purple, or from aqua to various shades of brown/blue.  Once the glass has been irradiated, the color of a historic artifact has been permanently altered.  Many HBCA members have filed fraud reports on eBay sellers listing irradiated glass.  We have repeatedly asked that all irradiated glass be totally banned from eBay in an effort to help stop the permanent alteration of historic
artifacts.  The collective response from eBay has been total silence.  

Another challenging problem is the rash of glass bottles and jars, and stoneware showing up on eBay with faked, acid-etched labels.  Most of these items are being offered by eBay power sellers purportedly located in the “Ozarks/Missouri” and specializing in all sorts of reproduction items.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why these sellers are masking bidder IDs, and posting very carefully worded, vague descriptions. Although there’s a well-written “eBay Guide” explaining, illustrating, and warning eBay customers about siphon bottles with fake etchings, apparently your staff members responsible for monitoring fraud reports don’t think eBay has any legal responsibility to help protect customers from known fraudulent items; I disagree!  Once again filed eBay fraud reports have generated absolutely no response.  The lack of communication leaves us believing eBay is totally focused on not losing a percentage of such sales, rather than considering the potentially enormous public relations benefits of taking a stance on behalf of protecting customers.  To review numerous specific eBay fraud examples, please visit the “Caveat Emptor” page at  

To review a current example of an irradiated Hutchinson soda bottle, check out eBay 330209543863.  The listed bottle is only found in aqua (light green) glass, yet the seller has described it as “cobalt blue,” and denied an inquiry asking if the bottle has been irradiated.  A simple review of the seller’s many other listed items indicates that most everything he sells has been irradiated.  Many advanced Hutchinson collectors have reviewed this particular listing and we are unanimously in agreement that this bottle has been irradiated, the color is not original, and therefore the listing is fraudulent.  As of this writing, two people have placed bids of $300 or more on a bottle worth at the most $25.


Mr. Donohoe, please take a hard look at eBay’s communication policies and seeming indifference to fraudulent activities.  Although eBay monopolizes the on-line marketplace today, that could change in a heartbeat.  Other potential vendors likely view millions of collectors as a very desirable group of target customers.  Please remember that eBay needs us; we do not need eBay!  Thousands of eBay customers are looking forward to your taking action to correct these shortcomings.


Ron Fowler

$top The In$anity!

January 8, 2008

Web hosting statistics indicate lots of folks are reading these increasingly frequent "buyer beware" comments.  The quantity of EMail we're receiving concerning faked etchings, irradiated glass, undisclosed "marriages" of newer paper labels with older bottles, etc., has picked up markedly.  These are positive trends, but in addition to increased communication we need more collectors, clubs, and other organizations taking action!  The con artists aren't going to stop their fraudulent activities unless we turn up the heat and drive them out of our hobby.  Please spread the word via the collecting organization(s)
to which you belong.  If they have newsletters, have the editors broadcast warnings to all members.  At a minimum, point others to this page!

The irradiation of antique glass has plagued our hobby for many years.  On-line auctions have given unscrupulous sellers like the two oft-mentioned Miami-area bottle dealers a new avenue for peddling their altered wares to unsuspecting customers.  A good starting point is to follow the lead of several Florida clubs and ban the sale of irradiated glass at bottle shows.  If your club doesn't ban irradiated glass, raise the issue and suggest a new policy be established.  These ignorant (their term, not mine) sellers will stop irradiating glass if it doesn't sell.

The problem of faked etchings is spreading like wildfire, and if we don't step up and counterattack now, the market for etched items is going to be severely impacted.  In addition to siphon bottles with faked etchings, we're now seeing faked syrup bottles and whiskey flasks.  And if you think you've seen everything, you haven't.  Here are three more current examples:

The first item is eBay 250202998001, yet another foreign siphon bottle etched to read COCA COLA BOTTLING / COMPANY / MONROE LOUISIANA.  The seller is the same one who foisted the XXX ROOT BEER / ISSAQUAH, WA siphon off on an unsuspecting buyer.  As usual, the bidder IDs are masked, etc.  The good news, at least as of this writing, is this bottle has NO bids!  No doubt it will see bidding activity before the auction closes but for now, at least, we can dream that people are actually catching on and recognizing obvious fakes.

The one gallon Coca-Cola / BOTTLING CO / SANTA MARIA / FOUNTAIN / SYRUP jug has red etching (see eBay 180200256395) and someone just paid $135.83 (plus P&H) for it.  Besides the fact I've never seen an etched Coca-Cola jug, the vague description, hidden bidder IDs, and sellers' Missouri location caused me to wonder about the validity of this item.  Digging into the seller's feedback doesn't usually reveal much because of the hidden user IDs and masked item numbers, but the eBay system threw this seller a curve ball...

Check out the one gallon GREEN / RIVER / THE / WHISKEY / WITHOUT / A / HEADACHE jug.  Pretty cool etching, eh?  I found this item while reviewing the feedback for the seller of the aforementioned Coca-Cola jug.  Apparently the buyer of the Green River jug (see eBay 180163421903) recognized the etching was faked when the jug was received and posted negative feedback.  It then appears the buyer withdrew the negative feedback (I assume the $208.50 selling price was refunded) and when that happened, the eBay system removed the hidden user ID and changed the item listing from "Private," allowing users to learn the item in question was this Green River jug.  Meanwhile, eBay allows the seller to maintain a "100% rating?"  Bah!  As the seller's Green River listing
states, "there are more jugs that I will be putting up for sale in the near future."  No kidding; hence the Coca-Cola jug.  I can hardly wait to see more listings from this seller (as soon as the new etchings are finished, of course).  Caveat emptor!

The sound of distant drums...

December 29, 2007

Listen carefully eBay; that rumble you're hearing is the sound of distant drums, and they're growing louder by the minute!  This week's EMail brought a year-end edition of Kovel's Komments, the excellent on-line newsletter published by well-known antiques experts Ralph and Terry Kovel (for subscription information, visit This issue's thought provoking comments included: "Will eBay and Tiffany settle their lawsuit about who is responsible for fakes on the eBay site.  Will eBay executives finally notice the buying public is furious about the way they avoid the problem of fakes?  Are eBay's fees - some say they are up 500% - chasing sellers to and other sites.  And we wonder why it is almost impossible to call a live person to talk about an eBay review the comments I've been posting here on behalf of all antique bottle and Early American Pattern Glass collectors.  If enough of us pound on our drums, maybe eBay will actually wake up and get with the program.  Then again, maybe their competitors will analyze the situation and decide we collectors look like a large and very attractive group of potential customers.

Speaking of fake items on eBay, the foreign siphon bottle with the faked XXX ROOT BEER / ISSAQUAH, WA. etching drew 11 bids (from an unknown number of bidders whose user IDs were, of course, hidden) and closed for $76.00 plus $14.75 shipping.  Those bidders who didn't win owe a major debt of gratitude to the poor soul who wasted over $90 on this fraudulent piece of junk.

Less than a minute later, a seller listing his/her location as Kalispell, Montana sold yet another foreign siphon with a faked Property of / Pepsi-Cola / BOTTLING CO. / FOUNTAIN / SERVICE etching, claiming it came "from an estate sale in Missouri."  This fake item brought 7 bids and closed at $152.50.  As usual, the bidder IDs were hidden and once again there's a Missouri connection.  See eBay 180198995258 for the details.

Ah, but it gets better!  The same Montana seller has an incredible whiskey flask listed. Check out eBay 180199480472 and feast your eyes on a "Coffin Flask 1st Texas Cavalry CSA."  Say, what?  A circa 1890s coffin flask with a Confederate States of America, Civil War era etching?  Wrong!  How about it's a blank bottle with a faked etching?  Sure enough, two bidders are after it.  Hey, maybe the seller will feel guilty and offer to etch the lucky winning bidder's name on the reverse side, and then irradiate it and turn the glass
"brilliant purple."  Hmmmmm...maybe not.  Caveat emptor!

Fake Root Beer Siphon!

December 21, 2007

Here's yet another perfect opportunity for eBay to do something more than just publicly state their intention of focusing on rooting out unethical sellers!  Check out eBay 25019966379, a listing for a "XXX ROOT BEER ISSAQUAH WA. GLASS SELTZER SODA BOTTLE!"  The XXX is a very well-known, long-time hamburger stand southeast of Seattle where many collector car shows are held.  This fake, foreign siphon bottle has absolutely nothing to do with the XXX.  Once again this seller has posted a siphon bottle with a faked etching, a carefully worded and vague description, hidden bidder IDs, etc. The very well-written "Fake seltzer bottles-Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr.Pepper, railroad" guide authored by 2stripes and posted on (of all places!) eBay clearly points out why this siphon etching is fake.  While waiting for eBay to take action (hint: I'm not holding my
breath!), I'm asking any/all concerned collectors with media connections to please send me media contact information.  If eBay won't help us (and it certainly appears they aren't going to), it is (past) time to initiate stronger action to rid our hobby of these bottles with faked etchings.

Wake up eBay; the "Spin" is making us dizzy!

December 12, 2007

The faked "circa 1830-40" White Pine Balsam (see 12-02-07 comments below) drew four bids and sold for $28.  Hopefully the buyer will figure out he has been defrauded and take appropriate action (not that he can expect eBay to be of any assistance, of course)...

A new Associated Press report released this afternoon discusses eBay's plans for 2008. Technology writer Rachael Konrad reports that eBay "will focus on improving the 'user experience' in 2008 in hopes of making the world's largest online auction more satisfying for its millions of users...they'll focus on rooting out sellers with unethical or questionable business strategies — particularly vendors who charge exorbitant fees...Many sellers lure shoppers with extremely low fixed prices or auctions that start at a penny — then charge disproportionate fees to mail the item to the buyer."  Pffft!  For an instant I had a vision of
eBay taking time away from counting their millions to focus on protecting honest buyers and sellers.  Instead, their 2008 plan sounds like nothing but still more public relations spin.  They're planning to go after sellers who peddle items at low prices (to which eBay's final value fees apply) and make up for it by charging high shipping fees (to which eBay's final value fees do
not apply).  That sounds to me like eBay focusing on putting still more $$$$ into their own bulging coffers.  Wake up eBay and focus on protecting your honest customers; without us you're nothing, and we'll abandon you in a heartbeat when Microsoft or Google (or anyone!) introduces a customer-focused on-line auction service!

Speaking of dissatisfied eBay customers, here's a web site to check out:  Warning: this site isn't for the faint of heart!

As Sgt. Joe Friday said, "Just the facts, ma'am."

December 2, 2007

A new listing by an eBay seller who routinely sells irradiated Hutchinsons just caught my eye.  Check out eBay 330194981559, a bottle the seller describes as a "SUPER NICE, CIRCA 1830-40 PATENT MEDICINE THAT IS 'MINT.'  EVEN THE LABEL IS IN GREAT CONDITION...WHITE PINE BALSAM NEWTON DRUG CO. SEATTLE, WASHINGTON."

Unfortunately, someone will likely waste money on this phony item that all but screams "CAVEAT EMPTOR!"  The only people out here in the 1830s-1840s were the Native Americans; the first white settlers didn't arrive in Seattle until 1852.  Newton Drug Company was in business from 1915 until 1942 when the Japanese owners were forced to close their business and interned for the remainder of WWII.  I'm no longer bothering to report such misrepresented listings to eBay; they've proven they're not interested in taking action to protect honest collectors.  Come on Google or Microsoft, set your sights on eBay!

Speaking of big and powerful, have you seen the commemorative "Circa 1899 Limited Edition" bottles Coca-Cola has issued?  They've designed a 9.3 ounce bottle to look somewhat like a slender Hutchinson with a short neck and crown closure.  The front is embossed PROPERTY OF / Cola-Cola / BOTTLING CO.  I could ignore these as yet another holiday marketing ploy, but the carton states "The first bottle to be embossed with our trademark, it had a spring-like stopper that made a fun popping sound when it opened.  That's where the name 'soda pop' came from."  WRONG!  They're also perpetuating this same tired old myth on their web site.  I have written their archivist, but he refuses to admit they're wrong (is the Coca-Cola Company ever wrong?).  Use of the term "soda pop" pre-dates invention of Hutchinson's Patent Spring Stopper by 65+ years and the introduction of Coca Cola by 70+ years.  I'm already seeing these bottles for sale on eBay. By the way, the Classic Coke tastes terrible.  Caveat emptor!

You can lead 'em to water, but you can't make 'em drink!

November 22, 2007

The previous comments were no sooner posted than I spotted an eBay listing for another of the green, foreign siphon bottles with faked Pepsi-Cola etching.  The bidders' ID list wasn't masked, the bottle's description was more detailed than usual, and the seller had a solid eBay sales history from dealing in other types of collectibles, so I surmised he wasn't one of the usual con artists and sent him a tactfully worded EMail message suggesting he probably wasn't aware the bottle's etching was fake.  Sure enough, he knew nothing about the bottle, having picked up several of them for re-sale.  He thanked me for the heads up, but did NOT pull the item and proceeded to sell it for $200+.  So much for honesty; that loud sound you just heard was the money talking.  I recognized a
local collector's ID as one of his bidders and EMailed him to warn him the etching had been faked.  His reaction was to throw yet another bid at it!  Obviously, you can lead 'em to water, but you can't make 'em drink!

Fake siphon etchings are generating revenue, so now the con artists are branching out. Here's a 13.25" x 5.5" supposed "PROPERTY OF / NEHI / BOTTLING CO. / FOUNTAIN / SYRUP bottle that recently drew 11 bids and sold for $51.41 on eBay.  The same seller seems to specialize in reproduction and fantasy items, and also peddles siphons with faked etchings.  What's next, fake etchings on 1940s Clorox bottles?  Caveat emptor!

The Same Old Runaround...

September 30, 2007

In case you aren't regularly checking this page for updates, don't miss the item below about the recovery of Dennis Smith's stolen Celery Cola syrup bottle!

Still more fraud reports have been filed concerning irradiated Hutchinson bottles with misleading listings.  In spite of repeated pleas that the auction service step up and support collectors of antique bottles and Early American Plate Glass, to be defrauded? The sellers of siphons with faked etchings are intentionally hiding bidders' user IDs to make it more difficult to contact and warn them.  The ignorant (their term, not mine) sellers of irradiated Hutchinsons, however, haven't (yet) seen a need to hide bidders' IDs. Rather than pleading with the auction service to take action, if you recognize the user ID of someone bidding on an irradiated Hutchinson that isn't accurately described, contact and warn them!  Pictured is 230174808550, an extremely common McCARTHY BROS. & MARTIN / RIVERSIDE / N.Y. / REGISTERED Hutchinson (the photos have been taken down on eBay).  The seller specified the bottle was irradiated, but had the nerve to describe it as mint.  How can it be "mint" after being nuked to change the glass color from clear to purple?  Three bidders had at it and, in my opinion, one of them wasted $38.50 on this one. Caveat emptor!   


September 8, 2007

Great news: Dennis Smith's stolen Celery Cola label-under-glass fountain syrup bottle has been recovered at an Atlanta flea market!  According to Dennis, "the guy who had the bottle at his booth 'had no idea how it ended up in his box.'  I appreciate all of the concern from friends and fellow collectors.  The response I've received...reconfirms what I've always believed: the greatest thing about the bottle collecting hobby is the friends I've collected over the years."

Sleight of hand(s)...

August 15, 2007

If "ignorance is bliss," the Miami, FL seller of this rare, irradiated E. K. HOERNER / EKH (monogram) / LEBANON, PA. variant must be drooling all over himself.  It drew but three bids and sold for $22.00 (see 170136793557).  One can only wonder how much it might have brought if the original clear glass had not been permanently altered a "neat color" of purple.  Pffft!

This isn't "CSI" or "History Detectives," but it certainly appears to this observer that the hands and background grass in the photos of these two siphon bottles are one and the same.  That's no big deal, except they were listed by two different sellers, one "in the Ozarks," and another coincidentally (?) in the "SW Missouri Ozarks."  Yeah, right.  The Dr Pepper (see 140140455613) drew nine bids and sold for $41.55. The Mt Shasta Coca-Cola (see 270149445594) also drew nine bids and went for $129.49.  Ouch!


The Celery Cola label-under-glass fountain syrup bottle pictured on the home page was stolen from Dennis Smith's table at last weekend's Atlanta bottle show.  It is approximately 12" tall with a blue label that reads: DRINK / CELERY COLA / REG. U.S. PAT. OFF / YOU'LL LIKE IT.

If anyone tries to sell the bottle to you please notify Dennis immediately.  If you know of another bottle like this one please let him know so he doesn't cause problems for someone who legitimately owns another example.  Dennis has owned this bottle for 25 years and it is the only one in existence as far as he knows.

Contact Dennis toll free at 1-866-840-9355, via snail mail to Dennis Smith, PO Box 1913, Buffalo, NY 14225, or via EMail to  


June 1, 2007

Right after posting my previous "Caveat Emptor" comments, this listing appeared at an on-line auction: "NICE SQUAT PURPLE HINER HUTCH - WELLSVILLE" (see item #170115741739 for the ugly details).  Increasingly fed up with the indiscriminate irradiating of Hutchinsons, I sent the seller this EMail message:

"It appears you don't have the slightest clue as to this bottle's rarity or where it is from.  If you knew, you wouldn't have nuked it and cut its value by 90%.  Stop irradiating bottles and go ruin some other hobby!"

With under two days to go, two bidders have pushed the price of this rare Ohio Hutchinson to $22.57.  This evening the seller sent me the following EMail reply:


He didn't attach our EMail messages to the item listing, so I'm posting them here for others to better understand the "ignorance" we're dealing with, and the importance of helping our hobby by avoiding his auctions.  Caveat emptor!

They're still at it...

May 23, 2007

The "they" I'm referring to, of course, are the two Florida on-line auction sellers who continue to irradiate and peddle nuked Hutchinsons.  People are still buying their bottles, but it looks like spreading the word about them is hurting their sales; their listings seem to be drawing fewer and lower bids.  One of their recent offerings is 230128474489. The description for this "VIBRANT...PHENOMINAL (sic) IRRADIATED PURPLE" S. GROSSMANN / SODA MINERAL WATER / PHILA. Hutchinson states "THE ONLY THING KEEPING IT FROM 'MINT' IS SOME LIGHT EXTERIOR SURFACE SCRATCHING AND SPOTTY HAZE."  Really?  It seems to me that permanently altering the original clear glass eliminated the possibility of accurately describing the bottle as "mint!"  We have catalogued five other GROSSMAN Hutchinsons.  The embossing on this variant, however, is GROSSMANN (with an extra N) and it is rare.  Four different bidders vied for it and the auction closed for $32.99.  One is left wondering what this rare bottle might have brought if it hadn't been nuked?  Help our hobby by adding this seller to your list of dealers to avoid.

Meanwhile, the sellers peddling siphons with faked Dr Pepper, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi-Cola etchings are still leaking them out onto the on-line auction site one at a time so as not to flood the market and keep prices high.  Just when it looks like potential buyers are catching on and avoiding these scams, an emerald green bottle etched Property of / Pepsi:Cola / Bottling Co. / Fountain Service closed for an astounding $400.50.  Down the line the buyers of these bottles are going to figure out they were had and turn to the auction service for restitution.  The auction service has been alerted multiple times, taken no action, and won't be able to plead ignorance.  I'll gladly testify when an outraged buyer is ready to pursue legal action.  I am reminded of dangerous intersections that seemingly
don't qualify for traffic signals until a minimum number of pedestrians have been run down. Caveat emptor!

Money Talk$

April 16, 2007

As predicted, the on-line auction service wimped out.  Due to privacy concerns, they don't reveal the results of their investigations.  That's fine; we don't need a written report.  What we do need, however, is their support.  We need them to help us police our hobby by waking up and taking appropriate action!  We need them to ban those who are irradiating Hutchinson bottles and other historic glassware, and dealers who are peddling siphon bottles with fake etchings.  Totally eliminating the sale of these altered items would, of course, reduce the auction service's total sales and, in my opinion, that is exactly why
they aren't taking action.  As the HBCA matures, we'll be able to combine forces with the likes of the FOHBC and the collectors of Early American Pressed Glass and gain the auction service's attention. you suppose they would listen if we alerted the media to this situation?  Stay tuned.

We are reviewing each sales listing posted by the two Florida sellers who continue to irradiate and sell Hutchinsons and other bottles.  They are being more careful to mention irradiation in their listings, but unfortunately they haven't stopped treating bottles because people are buying them.  A "bottles wanted" listing in the most recent issue of AB&GC caught my eye, and an easy reverse telephone directory check confirmed it was one of these Florida dealers fishing for bottles to buy, treat, and sell.  We need to shut these guys down!

Likewise, the unscrupulous sellers faking siphon etchings are continuing to slowly leak them out one-at-a-time at the major on-line auction site.  Recent sales include a "DR PEPPER KING OF BEV FOUNTAIN SERVICE SELTZER BOTTLE" for $178.45, a "VINTAGE PRPSI:COLA (sic) SELTZER FOUNTAIN SERVICE BOTTLE" for $181.28, an "ANTIQUE PEPSI COLA SODA GLASS SELTZER FOUNTAIN BOTTLE" for $380, and a "VINTAGE COCA COLA COKE FOUNTAIN SERVICE SELTZER BOTTLE" for $112.50. Meanwhile, an unetched example of these bottles drew two bids, closing for $4.25.  It's easy to see why the etchings are being faked; the situation begs media attention!

One of our Hutchinson specialists recently blew the whistle on an on-line auction seller caught bidding up his own listings.  This candidate for "America's Dumbest Criminals" has three user IDs and was using two of them to place bids on his own items.  He bids up the price until exceeding the leading bidder's maximum, Alas, the auction service tracks and reveals these actions for all to see, and several fraud reports were quickly filed on the seller.  Obviously, this is a no-brainer, so you're guessing the auction service evaluated the situation and suspended him, right?  Wrong!  They suspended one of his user IDs, but the other two are still active.  Like I said, MONEY TALK$!

See No Evil, Hear No Evil...

March 7, 2007

It is disappointing to report I have heard nothing more from the on-line auction service about the irradiation fraud complaints filed February 4 & 5, 2007.  The only responses received were system-produced EMail messages confirming receipt of the filings.  These boilerplate messages expressed concern about fraudulent activity and assured me the reports would be reviewed "as soon as informed about the status of our investigation." Yeah, right.  The fact these auctions were not pulled clearly indicates the auction service looked the other way and took no action.  That's okay; in time we will get their attention!

My fraud filings detailed the significant problems caused by sellers who are irradiating glass, and suggested the auction service could score major points with the glass collecting community by stepping up to ban all irradiated glass objects from their auctions.  Given the negative press the auction service continues to receive for increasing listing fees (in spite of posting incredible 2006 profits), and the highly controversial masking of IDs when bids exceed $200, one might think the powers-that-be would opt to support honest customers, rather than seemingly looking the other way in favor of not putting a dent in their beloved final value fees.  One of these days the golden goose is
going to fly away.  

In the meantime, two of the major offenders who continue to irradiate Hutchinsons are apparently being more careful to mention irradiation when listing nuked bottles.  Spread the word: boycott their sales, keep the pressure on, and in time we'll run them off the auction services the same way they're being banned from bottle shows.  Our hobby simply does not need these people who are permanently altering historical Hutchinson artifacts.

Unfortunately, the highly suspicious, acid-etched, major brand-name siphon bottles continue to slowly dribble out across the land.  Almost every offering I see perfectly matches the listing criteria spelled out in my February 8, 2007 message posted below.  A blue aqua Property of / Pepsi:Cola / Bottling Co. / Fountain Service closed for $380 on March 1, 2007.  A light emerald green Property of / Coca-Cola / BOTTLING CO. / FOUNTAIN / SERVICE sold for $81 earlier this evening.  I find it interesting that I never saw any of these South American-style bottles during my first 45+ years of collecting and now they're appearing everywhere and many are etched with major brand-names.  Be very careful before you have anything to do with these bottles.


February 10, 2007

Yesterday I seized an opportunity to steal away and attend a local bottle show.  I didn't acquire any great bottles, but as usual it was fun to swap bottle stories with long-time friends and other collectors.  The sole display that had been set up by the time I left was an eye-catching assortment of sun-colored amethyst bottles, insulators, and other antique glass appropriately entitled "Purple Haze."  A well-written, educational handout accompanied the display briefly explaining the process by which flint glass turns various shades of amethyst when exposed to ultraviolet light because early glass manufacturers used manganese to change the glass from it's natural shade of aqua to clear.  The author also mentioned "A very dark amethyst color can be produced if the glass is processed by a hospital x-ray machine or a food irradiation machine.  Many bottle collectors feel this deep color is unnatural and hence shun it.  This glass is banned from many bottle shows or must be labeled as artificial. New collectors may be disappointed to find that their colorful prize is not desired by more advanced collectors.  It is interesting to note that while bottle collectors enjoy the light amethyst glass, the collectors of early American pressed glass consider it to be damage, just like a chip.  They consider many pieces 'ruined' because they were left too close to a window."  I didn't see any irradiated glass at the show; spread the word and let's see this happen at shows across the country!  I'm still waiting for responses to the fraud complaints I filed with an on-line auction service. Keep checking this page for updates; I plan to post their response(s).

Another item that caught my eye was one of the green, South American siphons with no etching and Spanish base embossing.  Even though the asking price was only $5.00 there were no takers.  

Stop The Purple Plague!

February 8 , 2007

2007 is my 46th year of enjoying the wonderful hobby of collecting antique bottles.  Early on I realized that an important aspect of my enjoying the hobby This mind set has led to many years of contributing countless hours to local and national organizations as newsletter editor, membership director, show chairman, and program coordinator, plus the publication of numerous magazine articles and several bottle books, working on the Hutchinson Bottle Directory initiative, etc.  responsibility for sharing information with others, particularly new collectors, to help them avoid the mistakes many of us have learned the hard way.

For quite some time I have been planning to author an in-depth e-newsletter article about irradiated bottles.  Long-time glass and bottle collectors are painfully familiar with the end results of the irradiation process.  Many of us do not support the altering of glass colors and believe the process is permanently damaging historical artifacts.  As I have become increasingly alarmed, I have been utilizing this web site to express my concerns.  This includes providing a link on the Advanced Bottle Collector Links page to other web sites that provide detailed information about the somewhat mysterious irradiation process and the negative impact it is having on glass collecting.  

The increased number of irradiated bottles being offered for sale lately suggests information needs to be shared more broadly.  It is past time to draw attention to those sellers who are permanently altering bottles in pursuit of the almighty dollar.  In my opinion, the quickest way to impact them is to hit their pocketbooks by refusing to buy their irradiated bottles.  If you agree, please alert others not to buy their bottles.  If you're a bottle club member, ask your newsletter editor to alert fellow club members.  If you help coordinate bottle shows, follow the lead of an increasing number of clubs who exclude irradiated glass from bottle shows and sales.  Help us rid our hobby of this purple plague!

Here are several examples, described from left to right:

This irradiated CONTENTS MFGD BY / SOUTH WOODLAND / BOTTLING WKS. / M. E. & / SON / CLEVELAND, O. / REGISTERED was originally flint (clear) glass.  It isn't selling, in spite of its rarity (less than 10 known), so apparently collectors aren't enthused about the permanently altered color.

The same seller is offering a "CORNFLOWER BLUE SAVANNAH CONSOLIDATED BIMAL HUTCH."  Actually, this isn't a Hutchinson, it is a blob top.  And it isn't "cornflower blue;" this bottle has been irradiated, a fact the seller failed to mention.  I'm left wondering if a potential buyer understands the bottle's color has been permanently altered?

Even though this B. FLAMMER / BETHLEHEM, PA. / REGISTERED is a common bottle, the seller describes it as a "magnificent irradiated purple" and labels it as being "mint."  In my opinion, "mint" means original flint glass, not permanently altered purple by being irradiated.

Before this "brilliant irradiated bronze/topaz" G. KRIEGER / BUFFALO / N.Y. bottle's color was permanently altered, it was a scarce aqua Hutchinson.  It sold for $10.29.  I wonder if the buyer knew what "irradiated" meant?  I have contacted the auction service coordinating the sales of these bottles and asked them to support collectors of antique glass by banning the sale of all irradiated glass.  Hopefully they will consider the positive public relations aspects of strongly supporting our hobby and the tens of thousands of glass collectors, rather than only evaluating possible negative cash flow impact.  Stay tuned.

As long as I'm sounding off, here are some personal opinions about several siphon bottles I've seen offered for sale lately.  Check these out:

No, these bottles haven't been irradiated.  I do, however, wonder if their acid etchings are original to the bottles.  During the past few years, auction sites and antiques stores across the continent have been flooded with imported, colored, foreign (mostly South American) siphon bottles.  Most have Spanish embossing and no etching.  They're so common I've seen them offered for as little as $ .99 and not selling.  Over the past few months I have noted the sudden appearance of rare, national brand, etched Coke, Pepsi, and Dr Pepper siphons, with many selling for several hundred dollars each.  There are some interesting commonalities between the listings: the bottles are colored; they're of foreign origin; they have celluloid siphon heads; the sellers provide only vague descriptions of their sales locations (most are Southern); and buyers' names are hidden. The three bottles pictured above were offered by three different sellers (supposedly) and follow the same listing pattern.  You be the judge.

The first Coca-Cola siphon is etched Joplin, Missouri.  It fits the commonalities cited above, including Spanish base embossing with what appears to be a 1965 age code.  Is it real or was the etching added later?  It sold for $77.  

Hmmm, another green etched Joplin MO Coca-Cola siphon offered by a different seller. Same comments as above with a 1952 age code.  It sold for $76.

The final photo shows a paneled Dr Pepper siphon.  The only variance from the aforementioned listing pattern is the bidders' IDs aren't masked.  This may indeed be a genuine, vintage Dr Pepper siphon, but I'll admit to becoming gun shy because of seeing other, questionable offerings.  I also find it quite interesting that the background wood shelving and paneling in the photo appears to be identical to that behind the Coca-Cola siphon pictured next to it, even though the sellers are different.  That sure seems like an incredible coincidence to me!

Bottom line: be VERY cautious when buying antique bottles, particularly when they're sight unseen and you're relying on descriptions and photographs provided by people you don't know.  Carefully evaluate sellers and their reputations.  Ask questions!  Strive to continually learn everything you possibly can about the items you collect.  Always remember: CAVEAT EMPTOR - LET THE BUYER BEWARE!

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