January 25, 2022

Antiques & Collecting: Suffolk pig bottle had medicinal use

Figural bottles were often used to package medicines as well as alcoholic beverages in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A cabin-shaped bottle with the embossed name “E.G. Booz Whiskey” led customers to use the word booze for drink, a term still in use. But how did a pig-shaped bottle become one of the most popular bottles to encourage buyers of medicine?

There are early 1800s pig-shaped bottles made of both glass and ceramics. The tail is the spout, and the bottle was displayed on its four short legs.

Suffolk Bitters, a medicine with a high percentage of alcohol, used the bottle about 1870. If you drank a lot, it made you happier and pain-free like any alcoholic beverage. Bitters were considered a medicinal drink, not alcohol.

The original amber Suffolk pig bottle had its name in raised letters on one side with “Philbrook & Tucker, Boston” on the other. There have been reproductions made in other colors and similar pigs with other names. At a Glass Works Auction online there were 14 bids before the new owner paid $1,170.

But why pigs for a product that doesn’t contain any parts of a pig? It is probably to encourage sales because there was a belief in the 1870-1890s that pigs bring prosperity and the drink in a pig bottle would bring wealth.

My mother says her bracelet is made of bake-a-lite. What is that?

Bakelite is a plastic developed in the early 1900s. It was used for jewelry by the 1930s by major designers. The art deco jewelry became very popular.

Bakelite was needed for the war in the 1940s, so the jewelry wasn’t made for about five years. About 1997, the deco jewelry was rediscovered by collectors, and books were published with information and color pictures that made prices skyrocket.

Bracelets with inset dots were selling for $300 to $1,000. Small pins were $75 to $300, and carved bracelets were about $500.

There is a good supply of plastic jewelry now that those who bought in the 1990s are older and “decluttering.” A recent Morphy’s auction sold about 600 pieces for a total of $43,000 — yes, I counted the pieces — with an average price of $70.

Current Prices

Movie, poster, Papillon, Steve McQueen & Dustin Hoffman portraits, The Greatest Adventure of Escape is Back, dated 1976, 41 x 27 inches, $85.

Cut glass, vase, Propeller pattern, Marshall Field, oval, step cut neck with horizontal ribs, double notched angular handles, 9 3/4 x 7 inches, $460.

Purse, handbag, Alma, Louis Vuitton, monogrammed coated canvas, tan Vachetta leather handles & base, gold tone hardware, 14 inches wide, $675.

Beatles, bicycle seat, Yellow Submarine, steel frame, vinyl covering with groovy submarine & waves image, Huffy, 1968, 9 x 9 inches, $1,500.

Tip: The best way to dust books is with a vacuum cleaner brush attachment, while running the vacuum.

Terry and Kim Kovel

For more collecting news, tips and resources, visit www.Kovels.com. © 2022 King Features Synd., Inc.