Transparently valuable: The McCandless bottle collection goes up for sale

The lifetime, single-owner bottle and flask collection of Tom McCandless - a dedicated collector whose recent passing left a void in the bottle and glass collecting field - will be sold in three sessions by Norman C. Heckler & Company.

Session I (83 lots) will go online Wednesday, September 28 and conclude with a live auction on Saturday, October 8. Session II (123 lots) will go online October 5 and conclude October 19.

Mr McCandless's collection is indeed impressive. Over the course of 40 years, he accumulated the very best of flasks, bitters, whiskeys, medicines, milks, sodas, fruit jars, pickles and more. These were kept at his home in Hopewell, N.J., where he lived with his wife, Marion.

"The quality and the breathtaking range of beautiful colours that exist in Tom's collection are immediately obvious," said Norman Heckler, Sr., of Norman C. Heckler & Co.

Washington portrait flask by Albany Glass Works
Washington portrait flask by Albany Glass Works

"He was one of the first collectors to focus on colour diversity. This is accepted by collectors today as perhaps the most important characteristic of an important glass collection, but Tom was one of the first."

The McCandless collection is hitting the market at a time when antique bottles and glass are particularly hot.

"They're on a definite upswing, both in interest and prices realized," Mr. Heckler remarked. "The demand for flasks and bitters, especially, is insatiable, especially at the high end. The market may be flat for some collectibles, but not so for antique bottles and glass."

One bottle being offered is expected to bring $20,000-$30,000, and it was one of Mr. McCandless's personal favorites. It is an Albany Glass Works (N.Y.) Washington portrait flask, made circa 1848-1850. It is an exceptional half-pint flask in every way, with strong embossing and rare and beautiful colouration (light golden yellow with a deeper golden colour neck and base).

Watch this space for more news of this unique auction.


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