North Star Historical Bottle Club Meetings Notes & News

October 2017 North Star Meeting

Photos of the October, 2017, show and tell.

September, 2018 North Star Meeting

A few images from our September, 2018 Show and Tell.

May, 2018, North Star Meeting at the Pottery Museum

Here are few of the many great entries in this year's Best Bought Contrest, held at the Pottery Museum of Red Wing on May 20, 2018.  We enjoyd pizza, a fun contest, and a tour of the museum.  William Radam, proprietor of Radam's Microbe Killer, made a surprise appearance in front of the museum's country store display.   Much of the country store display material was on loan to the musuem through the generoisty of North Star member Jeff Vick.

Rare local bitters.

Rare Winona flask!

Red Wing advertising jug!

Minnesota Club Whiskey pre-pro tray!

Bottom signed Red Wing jug!

Cobalt OP scent.

Californina "megaphone" whiskey!


Winner of the Best Overall entry:  Black Glass George Benz Appetine Bitters!


This last image shows the door prize won by member Linda Sandell: a labeled Electric Bitters!

Jeff Vick among a few of his country store items.

Willima Radam promoting his Microbe Killer in front of the Pottery Museum of Red Wing Mittelstaedt Country Store Display.  The various Red Wing potteries made three different versions of the Microbe Killer jugs.

March 2017 North Star Meeting

A few show and tell items from the March, 2017 North Star meeting.  The program included an awesome 20-minute video on the bottles of H. H. Warner.

Janurary, 2017 North Star Meeting

Here are a few of the great show-and-tell items shared at the January 15, 2017, North Star meeting.



Rare etched St. Paul beer glass.

Yes, a lucky member found this White Rose jug in a shop in northern Minnesota, and that is the price tag.  There is handle damage, but the price was more than right!

Nice local items.

Red Wing bean pots are always a favorite.

A couple of radium water jugs, far from home.

Nice Alma, Wisconsin, ( a Mississippi River town) seltzer bottle.

Operation Holiday Basket

The members of North Star Historical Bottle Association voted again in 2016 to contribute to Operation Holiday Basket, a joint venture of Minneapolis Roosevelt High School and the YMCA (North Star has met at the Hiawatha YMCA, across the street from Roosevelt, since the club began in 1971).  Shown here are the many participants, including Minneapolis police and fire, Roosevelt students past and present, and Roosevelt staff.  North Star is proud to be a part of the annual event which brings baskets of fodd to neighbors in need during the holidays.  Photo courtesy of Bryan Barnes.

North Star 2016 Best Dug contest

A few photos from the North Star Historical Bottle Association Best Dug Contest, held November 20, 2016.  Lots of fun entries this year!

October 2016 North Star Historical Bottle Club Meeting

No show and tell photos yet, but here are the 2017 bottle show raffle bottles, selected by North Star members at the October, 2016 meeting.


September 2016 Show and Tell

North Star 2016 Best Bought Contest









2016 Minnesota Antique Bottle, Advertising, and Stoneware Show And Sale



March 2016 Meeting

The March, 2016 North Star meeting included a presentation on American Hisotrical and Pictorial Flasks.

January 2016 North Star Meeting

Though the weatherwas bitter cold, 16 hearty souls attended the January, 2016 North Star meeting and enjoyed two mini programs.  Dennis Nygaard spoke about post card collectig, and Steve Ketcham presented his collection of early advertising combs.  Some nice show-and-tell items were also shared.

Some of the true beleivers who showed up for the January North Star meeting on a sub-zero Sunday night.  A couple more arrived after this photo was taken.

Philadelphia branch Pabst bottle.

Rare Zumbrota crown-top soda.

Dug in the Red Wing dump!

Nice advertising envelope!

November 2015 North Star Meeting

The Annual Best Dug Contest took place at the November, 2015 meeting of the North Star Historical Bottle Association.  There numerous many fine offerings in the many categories, and members enjoyed viewing and voting for their favorites.  A complete list of winning bottles and their owners will be found in the December  or January North Star News.  Meanwhile, here are some photos from the event.

This amber mini beer, entered by Dave Vollmar and Charlie Farley, is about 4 inches tall and bears an applied collar.  It  is embossed Stamm & Meyer / Milwaukee, Wis.  It took first place overall in the 2015 North Star Best Dug Contest.

Many nice beers showed up to compete this year.

An impressive line up of dug bitters.  Mark Youngblood entered the  George Benz Appetine Bitters, front center in this photo.  It was voted second best overall entry in the contest. 

A very nice light chocolate amber colored Hostetter's Bitters was entered by Dave Vollmar and Charlie Farley.

An impressive array of dug porcelain advertising signs.

A the forefront of this gathering of North Star members, Dave Vollmar and Jeff Springer discuss the merits of the various beers on the contest table as Ron Hall listens in. 

More contest entries.

This white milk glass Klondike flask was a winner in the Figural category.

October 2015 North Star Meeting

Some of the great show and tell items shared by North Star members at the October, 2015 meeting.

A very nice Minneapolis stoneware beer.  J. Astadt produced soda and lemon beer from 1875 to 1884 in north Minneapolis.

This little wide mouth pitcher is embossed with a star on its base, a good indication that it was produced by the North Star Stoneware Company of Red Wing, Minnesota.

A beautiful amber druggist bottle from Faribault, Minnesota. 

May 2015 Meeting Held at Pottery Museum of Red Wing

May Minutes

The North Star Historical Bottle Association held its final meeting (until September) at the Pottery Museum of Red Wing in Red Wing, Minnesota, on Sunday, May 17.  Nineteen members were in attendance.  A brief business meeting was held, with the primary topic being the approval of a $1000 donation to the Pottery Museum of Red Wing.  The museum is holding a drive to pay off its mortgage, and North Star members enthusiastically approved the donation.  

We also enjoyed hearing from Museum Manager Robin Whipperling, and Museum Project Director Larry Peterson, both of whom shared great stories about the museum.  Did you know that the museum had visitors from 14 countries last year?   This summer the riverboat American Queen will again bring hundreds of visitors to Red Wing, and the museum has a contract with the American Queen to provide tours to all of its passengers.  

Following the business meeting, lunch was served and show and tell was held.  After that, everyone spent the afternoon enjoying the wonders of the museum and taking in the 6000 pieces of pottery on display.  

Once the meeting was over, it is rumored a few intrepid diggers headed for the pottery dump despite the weather forecast calling for heavy storms.

North Star will resume its regular meetings on Sunday, September 20, at the Hiawatha YMCA, 4100 28th Ave. South in Minneapolis.   

Steve Ketcham (filling in for Ron Hall)

  Many Red Wing bottles were seen on the May show and tell table.

Everyone enjoyed the pizza lunch.

Our newsletter editor, Susy Olsen, seated at the summer kitchen display at the Pottery Museum of Red Wing.

Nancy Stokke, Jim Carlson, Dennis Nygaard, and Ausitn Fejerstad enjoying the zinc glaze pottery portion of the 6000 piece musuem. 

North Star diggers swapping stories of the underground.

The nineteen North Star members in attendance at the May meeting posed in front of the salt glaze diorama.

April 2015 North Star Meeting Photos

Below are photos of a few of the great pieces our members shared at the April, 2015 North Star meeting.


Raffle Prizes Selected for March, 2015, Minnesota Antique Bottle, Advertising, and Stoneware Show and Sale

The two bottles shown below will be raffled off at the 2015 Minnesota Antique Bottle, Advertising, and Stoneware Show and Sale on March 22.

Amber Radam's Microbe Killer

Aqua Gii-141 quart flask depicting Indian Shooting Bow / Eagle.

2015 Minnesota Antique bottle, Advertising, and Stoneware Show and Sale

A few scenes from the 2015 Minnesota Show.

March 2015 North Star Meeting

Here is a look at some of the great insulators North Star members enjoyed viewing at the March, 2015 meeting.  Guest speaker Jim Egge presented an informative and entertaining program.  Thanks, Jim!


February 2015 Best Bought \"Silver Pick\" Contest

On February 15, North Star members dusted off their best purchases from the last year and entered them in the 2015 Silver Pick Contest.  A few of the winning entries are shown below.

Best Soda and Best Overall Bottle


Best Beer


Best Whiskey

Best Flask


Best Bitters


Best Advertising

January 2015 Meeting Photos

January 2015 Meeting Show and Tell Items

Copenhagen Snuff birchbark container

Pre-Prohibition beer mug from salon keeper Billy O'Hern, Cedar Ave, Minneapolis.

Rare Emmert Brewing co. blob-top beer.


Rare Red Wing crock made forOlmsted county Co-Operative, Rochester.

Nice old embossed tin sign from Walling's Drug Store, Park Rapids.

January Program:  Fred Wolter Delivers Talk on Brick collecting

Fred with a couple of bricks from his collection. Below are photos of other examples from Freds brick collection.  Thanks, Fred, for an informative program!


Below are club secretary Ron Hall's notes on Fred's program.

Fred Wolter came to do a program on bricks.  He particularly appreciates brick collecting because you can always find things to do with them.  It’s also a low cost hobby.  There are stories behind the bricks just as there are behind bottles.

 To make a brick you need three things: water, lots of fuel, and shale (which is ancient dried clay).  Towns with access to cheap fuel tended to be centers of brickmaking, because bricks have to be “burned” for quite a while.

 Shale is preferable to wet clay for two reasons.  It is more plentiful than clay, because the water that helps make clay form comes and goes.  It is also more consistent in nature, giving the brick maker more control over the process than “fresh” deposits of clay, which are much more varied in consistency.

 The shale is ground, water is added, and this is poured into molds. At this point the lettering is applied, either debossed or embossed. These “green” bricks are put outside to dry.  The bricks could then be moved into a kiln, but sometimes it’s simpler to build a kiln of sorts over the bricks as they sit. Makers of bricks do not say they are “fired”, but rather say they are “burned”.  Bricks are burned not for hours, but rather for days, and the harder you want them the more days they are burned.

 The indentation in some bricks is to make it harder for the brick to fall out of the wall as the structure ages.  Even if the brick cracks, that indentation will continue to hold it in place as well as if the brick was whole.

 Fire bricks are heavy, dense and were made with a shale mix known to be especially heat resistant, including some iron content. These are used to line ovens, fireplaces and so on.  Dennis had brought a Evans & Howard fire brick, and another WW & Co (Austin Fjerstad said this was a William Winkelman (sp?) Company brick).

 Paving brick is fired to a much higher degree, or “vitrified” to an almost glasslike state.  This makes it sufficiently impervious to water so it can be fitted together in the ground and not have to be replaced as often as regular brick, which will not last if used in or on the ground.  One of the pavers on display was a Culver Block made by Wabash.  Fred also had an 1893 World’s Fair paver, which was the largest he had; there are about 5 different variations of these.

 The Flint brick on display had beveled edges and more than one member present speculated that these were set a bit on edge, to make a rough surface that helped horses climb hills.  An example was a particular street in South Saint Paul where wagons would get up onto the bluffs from the river.

 Just as there are territorial bottles, there are territorial bricks as well, embossed with the name of a territory.

 Thinner bricks with a pattern on the side were used for sidewalks and railroad platforms.  The pattern would help with traction.  This is also taken even further with fancier designs that are also intended to be particularly decorative.  Some patterns are especially deep, to allow smaller amounts of water to recede, leaving a drier walking surface.

 Used bricks can be found dumped in places that are out of the way that didn’t require any more hauling than necessary. These would be along railroad tracks, river banks, road embankments, and a favorite was close to bridges.  Try also looking on Craigslist, because people do advertise used brick for sale or to be hauled away.

 There’s a brick club.  It periodically holds a “brick swap” in a parking lot.  Everyone brings their extra bricks to share, and these bricks are free to all.   It is good etiquette to bring bricks to give away if you plan on taking any.

 The Story of One Brick Factory

 Coon Creek (now Coon Rapids) had an especially good deposit of shale next to the river and also right on the rail line.  A brick plant was started there by J.J. Smart and F.D. Kendrick.  Kendrick was a homeopathic physician by trade, but was always up for dabbling in all sorts of enterprises, becoming quite successful.  This venture was the Minnesota Ceramic Company, which manufactured building, paving and vitrified brick. 

 With the railroad “right there”, they were especially keen on making brick for railroad platforms.  By 1905 business had picked up very much, and in an attempt to expand production Mr. Kendrick approached the Great Northern Railway for a loan. The brick plant was already in debt, and there was some evidence it was not being run very professionally.  The rail company offered a $10,000 loan, but insisted on the right to approve new management and sales staff.   Problems continued anyway.  Bricks were being sent to the wrong locations.  Orders for one type or color of brick were being filled with other types that were not requested.  There were also some cracking problems, finger prints, sharp edges, poorly formed bricks and actual stones in the mix (causing weak spots in the brick). Adding to these problems, coal needed to be hauled in by rail from Iowa or further, and was an added expense many of their better situated competitors did not have.  A bill came in 1906 that brought their fuel debt to over $2,000 and the company was in trouble.  Kendrick sold out his interest, and the company continued a few more years before going out of business.

November 2014 North Star Meeting

Best Dug Contest!

A total of 34 members were in attendance for the annual North Star Best Dug Contest.  See images below for more information.

North Star members casting their votes for the best digging finds from the last year.

More Best Dug Contest voting action in front of the beers, sodas, and medicines.

The winner in the drugstore bottle category. 

The winning bitters bottle.

Jim Lewanski and his North Star Bottling Company, St.Paul, aqua blob-top beer.   This bottle was voted the best overall find for the last year.

Mark Youngblood's William McMurray Soda Fountain Supplies jug took second place in the best overall category in the 2014 Best Dug Contest.

October 2014 North Star Meeting

Below are photos taken at the October 2014 North Star Meeting.  The drug store bottles were shared by Mark Youngblood during his program on Minnesota and Wisconsin small town drug store bottles.  The remaining photos were taken from the show and tell tables.

Bottles pictured below were shared during show and tell at the October 2014 North Star meeting.


May, 2014 North Star Meeting

The May meeting of the North Star Historical Bottle Association took place on Sunday night, May 18, at the Hiawatha YMCA.  It was the last meeting until September as the club takes its summer break.  Shown here are photos of a few of the May show and tell items as well as images of the branch beer bottles shared as part of the  May program.  See you all on September 21!


Tip tray seen on the May meeting show and tell table.

Wonderful salt glaze jug seen on the May show and tell table.

A broken Robacks Bitters, a recent digging find with a missing base, also broke some hearts!

Just in time for the Minnesota summer, a mosquito bite cure was shared at show and tell.

An I.S. Ketcham stoneware cider bottle from Jericho, Long Island, circa 1860.

A few branch beers displayed as part of the May program presented by Vern Dotseth and Jim Carlson.

More branch beers.  Over two dozen different branch beer bottles were shown durng the program.

2014 Minnesota Antique Bottle, Advertising, and Stoneware Show and Sale

The 2014 Minnesota Antique bottle, Advertising, and Stoneware Show and Sale was a great success.  Attendance was strong and the buying/selling was brisk.  Our new venue, the Knights of Columbus building at 1114 American Blvd. West in Bloomington recieved very positive reviews from our dealers and the public.  The 2015 show has already been scheduled for March 22, 2015, at the same location.  Watch this site for more details as plans develop.

Below are a few photos from the 2014 show.  Thanks to Iowa's Mark Wiseman for the majority of the photos we are sharing here.  Enjoy!

March, 2014, North Star Meeting

Steve Showers shares his show and tell item with some of the March attendees.

Mark Youngblood's great old Massolt Bottling advertising tray was a stand out piece at the March North Star meeting.

Two early Sandwidh Glass colognes were seen on the March show and tell table.

North Star Presidnet Dennis Nygaard brought these stoneware canning jars for the March show and tell.  He will present a program on this topic at the April 13 meeting (One week early due to Easter falling on the third Sunday).

A Dr. Guysott's Sarsaparilla was a part of the March show and tell. 

2014 North Star Historical Bottle Club Annual Best Bought Contest

Below are images of just a few of the many great items entered in the 2014 North Star HBA Best Bought Contest.

November, 2013, North Star Best Dug Contest

The photos below are just a sampling of the many great items submitted to this year's North Star Best Dug contest.  Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to all who participated. 

Charlie Farley and Dave Vollmar with their overall winner: a cobalt pint clasped hands / cannon flask.  Wow!

Father - Son team Brandon and Jim Lewanski with their second-place overall winning Red Wing soda.

A close-up shot of that winning flask.

One of the entries in the medicine category. 

A rare, deep green lightning rod insulator.

An amazing Reid fruit jar, complete with lid, was entered in the jar category.

Igloo ink with embossed windows around the side.

Black glass Hostetter's Bitters.

A great Red Wing jug made for a Stockholm, Michigan, liquor dealer.

Another Red Wing jug made for a St. Paul grocer.

A jaw-dropping, large amber druggist bottle from Mankato, Minnesota.

A view of three of the flasks entered in this year's Best Dug Contest.

Door Prizes Selected for 2013-2014 Club Season!


During the October North Star meeting, members selected the two bottles shown here as the door prize bottles for the coming year.  This means that the club president will select two meetings at random during the next year and at each of those meetings a drawing will take place.  At each meeting, one lucky club member will be selected to win one of the two bottles shown.  You must be present to win!

At left is a cobalt blue Sanford's Radical Cure.  At right is a cobalt blue, blob-top John Ryan soda from Savanah, Georgia.  The more meetings you attend, the better your chances of winning one of these two botttles!

October, 2013, North Star Meeting

Below are a few photos taken at the October, 2013, North Star Meeting.

Halloween show and tell bottles, left to right:  coffin-shaped amber poison, Schafer-Vater porcelain skeleton nipper and shot glasses on tray,

Devil-Angel figural whiskey nipper.

More show and tell:  Buffalo Lithia Water.

October raffle offerings.

A unique show and tell item:  an antique foot-pedaled device for powering a dentist drill.  Open wide!

A few of the North Star crew in attendance at the October meeting.  Hope to see you in November!

March, 2012 - Best Bought or Silver Pick Contest

Below are photos from the March, 2012, Best Bought or Silver Pick contest. Like the Best Dug contest, members enter their best finds from the last year and compete in roughly 20 categories.

September 2015 North Star Meeting

A great line up of summer finds covers three tabels at the September, 2015 North Star Meeting.  Here, member Jerry B. shares his summer swag!

Member Brian M. shares a great Red Wing jug with a stamp of Lakeville, Minnesota merchant advertising.

Club President Dennis N. displays his Thirst Joy shipping crate from the Reichert Bottling Works of Red Wing.

Among Jim N's summer finds was this stoneware barrel.


More summer finds.

A few more summer 2015 finds proudly displayed by North Star members.