Part 1 of the Mel Hammer bottle collection – 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 – will be sold in online Auction #72 that begins on Friday, December 10th and ends on Sunday, December 19th at 8 pm Pacific time, by American Bottle Auctions.

The full catalog, showing all 137 lots, will be posted on kickoff day, December 10th, on the American Bottle Auctions website (, where people can also register and bid. The offerings will feature Mr. Hammer’s favorites, to include schnapps and gin bottles, bitters bottles and inkwells, many boasting 9.5 grades. Mr. Hammer died on Thanksgiving Day.

“Mel was a true collector of bottles,” said Jeff Wichmann of American Bottle Auctions. “I didn’t know him as well as I would have liked, but I did see him when he made the drive down from his home in Redding to our shop in 2019. He’d purchased one of the nicer bottles in Auction #69. No surprise, it was a square, red amber whittled Turner Brothers bottle, as nice as we’d seen.”

That very bottle is lot #124 in the auction. It boasts an applied top with graphite pontil and shows both Turner Brothers locations (Buffalo, New York and San Francisco). The bottle enjoys every attribute a bottle collector is looking for; the color, crudity, rarity and condition are all exemplar. Its one minor flaw – a small flake on the lip – gives it a grade of 9.2. It should realize $4,000.

Every other bottle in this report has a grade of 9.5, starting with lot #71: the Brown’s Celebrated Indian Herb figural bitters bottle (patented Feb. 11, 1868) with rolled lip. Every bottle collection needs to have an Indian Queen in it, and for Mel Hammer he chose this light amber example. He understood the beauty in the Eastern-made figural bitters like this one (estimate: $2,000-$3,000).

To learn more about American Bottle Auctions and Part 1 of the Mel Hammer collection (online December 10-19), visit