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A big, beautiful and colorful portrait flask showing George Washington and a classical bust (possibly that of the noted 19th century American orator Henry Clay) soared to $60,840 to take top honors in an Internet and catalog auction held by Norman C. Heckler & Company. The sale opened on January 27 and closed February 6, 2013.

The quart flask boasted a rare “screaming” yellow color, with a sheared mouth and pontil scar. It was made circa 1840-1860 by the Baltimore Glass Works (Baltimore, Md.) and was the top lot of the 162 lots of vintage bottles that came up for bid. The auction attracted just over 1,000 bidders, mostly from the U.S. but also Canada, England and Australia.

“This was a very strong, successful sale, and I attribute that to the tremendous diversity we had, both in terms of categories and colors,” said Norm Heckler of Norman C. Heckler & Company.  “What impressed me was the fact that 90-95 percent of the bottles in this auction were in color; very little was clear. The variety of offerings appealed to a wide range of buyers.”

Heckler pointed to the numerous consignors as another contributing factor. Sold were bottles, historical flasks, medicines, early glass, wine bottles, pattern molded and free-blown glass and more from the collections of Gary Hatstat, Dr. Gary and Arlette Johnson, Kristopher Kernozicky, Valerie Mikalonis, Hiram Norcross, Robert W. Skinner, Jr., Bernie Roberts and others.

By the time the final gavel came down, more than $375,000 had been tabulated. The majority of the action came over the Internet, with 1,015 registered bidders posting more than 42,000 views, but some phone and absentee bids were also recorded. “It was actually a stronger sale than I even expected,” Heckler said. “Was it timing? The economy? The diversity? Probably all three.”

Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 17 percent buyer’s premium.

A pair of portrait flasks showing George Washington and Zachary Taylor, both made by the Dyottville Glass Works (Philadelphia) performed well. One was made circa 1840-1860 and was colored a rare yellow with olive tint. The half-pint flask made $14,040. The other was a Prussian blue quart flask, made circa 1860-1870, with a nice strong mold impression ($10,530).

One other Washington flask also deserves mention. It was a beautiful sapphire blue quart, with a sailing frigate portrait, made by Albany Glass Works (Albany, N.Y.). It was made circa 1847-1850 and finished at $18,720. Also, a Pitkin type flask, colored a brilliant clear medium lavender amethyst, made circa 1822-1829, gaveled for $19,890.

Two other lots topped the $10,000 mark. One was a Type 1 free-blown lily pad compote on a solid standard with applied circular base, aquamarine, possibly made by Redford Glass Works (Redford, N.Y.), circa 1840 ($11,115). The other was a medium cobalt blue scroll flask, probably made by the Louisville Glass Works (Louisville, Ky.), circa 1845-1860 ($10,350).

An Art Glass pitcher, made circa 1888-1895 in a Royal Flemish fish design with multi-color decoration by the Mt. Washington Glass Company (New Bedford, Mass.), 8 ½ inches tall, changed hands for $9,360; and a deep yellow-olive, cylindrical medicine bottle (“Prepared by William Coe, Worcester, Mass.”), made by a Stoddard glasshouse (N.H.), commanded $8,775.

A sealed English wine bottle (“Robt. Fulton, 1775”), cylindrical in shape and colored a deep yellow-olive, 9 ½ inches tall, in excellent shape with fine original surface, rose to $7,605; and a rectangular-shaped bitters bottle (“Dr. Stephen Jewett’s / Celebrated Health / Restoring Bitters,” Rindge, N.H.), brilliant light-to-medium yellow-olive, with beveled corners, hit $5,265.

An early drinking vessel from Europe (circa 1750-1850), conical in form and colored a brilliant sapphire blue  with white fern-like loopings, 2 ¾ inches tall, in fine condition, climbed to $3,510; and an American “Highland Bitters and Scotch Tonic” figural bitters bottle, barrel-form, made circa 1850-1870, medium amber in color, 9 ¾ inches tall, hammered for $3,218.

Rounding out the top lots, a shield form early scent bottle, probably made around 1820-1830 by Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks (Keene, N.H.), colored a brilliant medium amethyst, 3 ¼ inches tall, breezed to $2,808; and a cylindrical, bright blue-green half-pint soda bottle (“John Cable / 1848”) with applied sloping collared mouth and iron pontil mark, brought $2,223.

Norman C. Heckler & Company’s next big Internet sale is being billed as a diverse Opportunity Auction. Bidding begins Monday, Mar. 18, and closes on Mar. 27. Previews will be held through Mar. 26 at the firm’s show room. Featured will be early glass, flasks, bitters, sodas, pressed glass, blown glass, medicines, utilities, black glass, whiskeys, inks, scents and more.

Following the March sale, Opportunity Auctions will be held in May and September, with a major catalog auction slated for October (check the website for firm dates and times, at www.hecklerauction.com). The firm will conduct six live monthly auctions from April through October that will feature 100 or more lots each.

Norman C. Heckler & Company was founded in 1987 as a full-service auction and appraisal firm. Today it is the foremost auction house in the U.S. for antique glass. In Oct. 2010, the firm set a record for an antique glass bottle at auction when a General Jackson eagle portrait flask went for $176,670. In addition to glass, the firm also offers early American antique items.

Norman C. Heckler & Company is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To inquire about consigning a single piece or an entire collection, you may call them at (860) 974-1634; or you can e-mail them at info@hecklerauction.com. To learn more about the company’s calendar of upcoming auction events for 2013, visit www.hecklerauction.com.