A rare and historical portrait flask showing strong busts of George Washington and Henry Clay, made circa 1840-1860 by Bridgeton Glass Works (NJ), soared to $52,650 in the Internet and catalog auction of Session III of the Thomas McCandless lifetime bottle collection. The auction went online Jan. 18 and accepted its final bid on Feb. 1.
The portrait flask was the top lot in a session that grossed around $440,000. Combined, all three sessions (the first two were held this past fall) grossed a little over $1 million. “For a single bottle collection to top the $1 million mark is truly extraordinary,” said Norman Heckler, Sr., of Norman C. Heckler & Company, the Woodstock-based firm that conducted the auctions.
“McCandless’s lifetime collection represented one of the most diverse and colorful groupings of American bottles and glass to recently come to market,” Heckler remarked. “The rare and unique historical flasks exceeded pre-sale estimates, as well as our expectations. Early American and European black glass was another category that did unbelievably well.”
The Washington-Clay historical flask was the auction’s star lot, and for good reason. A common bottle in mold design, in an unlisted and extremely rare vibrant light yellowish color with a topaz tone, the flask’s bold portrait busts beautifully complemented its crisp lettering and perfect condition. The blown quart bottle with strong embossing was an exceptional example.
“The bottle and glass market remains very strong within the context of a broader antique market that has softened over the past several years,” Norman Heckler, Jr., observed. “Glass as an antique collecting category has drawn interest from collectors who recognize the historical significance and beauty of antique bottles and glass. Many also feel, too, that it is a greatly undervalued category.”