Searching High and Low

After some recent genealogical research, I discovered my 4th great grandfather was the owner of a bottling company in Philadelphia. The bottles are antiques, but still turn up at shops and auctions from time to time. I am determined to score one, so we’ve been searching antique markets and shops in the area.

His business seems to have been at its peak before the Civil War. My 3rd great grandfather served in the 71st Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry, and was wounded at Antietam. He died in a veterans hospital some years later of septicemia in Hampton, Virginia, and was buried there. Fortunately for my father, and myself, he lived long enough after the war to have my 2nd great grandfather. I’m not certain my 4th great grandfather’s bottling company survived the war.

That’s not to say I haven’t found some cool stuff looking around these shops and markets. Today we went to a market in Columbus, New Jersey, and while we didn’t find one of his bottles, we found several other bottles from Philadelphia that were from the same era. Close, but no cigar. But the search has been interesting. There might still be some gun culture left in the Garden State:


Actually, this part of New Jersey is pretty red, so it’s not too surprising. But walking around the shops, I saw things I remembered from both my house growing up, and my grandparents houses. This is just one thing I found which I remember from my house, which I think may have come from one of my grandparents originally:


One of these adorned the mantle over my fireplace as a kid. I have no idea where it came from, or what’s happened to it since, but apparently it’s hand painted and worth more than I would have ever imagined. It’s a match holder for those really long stick matches. There’s a striker on the bottom to light them. I may have to talk to my sister and father to make sure they know it’s not some worthless piece of junk.

Of course, I’m also finding cheap, but interesting beer steins. This one spoke to me so I bought it.

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As best I can find, this is a Gerz stein from the 20th century, possibly from the 1960s, but I’m not certain. Either way, it was less than 25 bucks, and it is made in Germany. The words say “Ein guter Trank macht Alte jung” translates as “A good drink makes the old young.” I cleaned it up a bit and decided to fill it with some Paulaner “Original Munich” Lager tonight. The original owner pretty clearly had used it for its intended purpose, and I plan to continue in that tradition.

15 thoughts on “Searching High and Low”

  1. I was really surprised at just how much gun-related gear we found given that it was New Jersey. We found an adorably cheesy lamp for a little boy’s room with two toy revolvers on it. We saw a collection of toy guns that were quite old, and most pre-dated the orange cap requirement. (A couple looked like they pre-dated me.) We also saw several booths with powder horns. I loved that these things were featured prominently in many cases.

  2. The steins are not the real thing unless they have a nekkid (Or at least partially dressed) lady embossed in the bottom.

    Supposedly to remind the drinker to go home to his wife when he drains the stein.

  3. I have quite a few old bottles my father dug up in south Jersey, some of which come from Philadelphia. If you don’t mind saying what you’re looking for, I’d be happy to take a look.

  4. Wow — It’s not like I think we’re anywhere close to being on the same psychic wavelength or anything, but Saturday night I had a very weird dream about antique bottles — and I’m not an antique bottle person. (Though I appreciate all that stuff, when it turns up.)

    Your stein looks very similar to one that I brought home from Germany in ’67 — something I bought from a Kamerade dealing from a card table down the street from our base. I knew I was going home in a few days and figured I better score some chiche’d souvenirs for everyone who would be expecting to hear chocolate-and-nylons stories. I’m not sure where mine is now. I may have chucked it. (That’s not intended to badmouth yours; just saying some memories lose their charm when you know their whole story.)

  5. Wow, haven’t seen an NRA counter mat since somewhere around “97, no clue where mine went after the tornado, how much that once free mat go for?

    1. As Sebastian said, we didn’t ask about a price. However, given the location of it (front and center of the booth entry), it’s not completely out of the question that it was also there as someone who is actually a recruiter. One of the most successful recruiters in the country is based out of Jersey, so it’s not impossible to imagine. We just assumed it was for sale, but maybe it was an advertisement.

  6. The match holder/striker is adorable!

    Not surprised it is worth “real” money. Especially to a collector. I watch both the UK and newer (less than thirty years) US “Antiques Roadshow” and just what is “collectible” can sometimes seem strange. Or amusing in a way – a watch featured on the UK show about a month ago had, for me, the added interest of having originally been sold by a jewelry store in Providence Rhode Island, not far from where I live.

    Point of interest, antique (over a century old) Pennsylvania furniture is often appraised at large sums.

  7. I was going to mention the boobies in Steins. My father has some from the 60s where he was stationed waiting for Russian yanks to roll west.

    (I mean tanks obviously but my phone won’t let me change focus in the edit box)

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