Question: I have a collection of H.J. Heinz bottles and wondered who I could talk to about their history and value.--T.C.
Answer: I knew if I saved your inquiry long enough (well, it was just a few months!), I'd find an answer.
Actually, it was easy and came in the form of a newsletter from the South Bay Antique Bottles and Collectibles Club (which meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at Arlington Elementary School, 178th Street and Van Ness Avenue in Torrance), which can probably answer most of your questions.
Says the report:
"Most Heinz bottles are very common, but there are challenging bottles like the Heinz and Noble bottles (remember they are 1869 to 1875), early Heinz numbers, Heinz store pickle canisters, which come in five styles, the embossed blue slip crocks and many other fantastic advertising media. . . .
"Heinz is fun to collect because it is truly an American company."
The reference to Noble bottles is to a friend of Heinz' with whom he formed a food company in 1869--only to see it go bankrupt a few years later. But out of that relationship came a collector's bonanza of horseradish, celery sauce and pickle bottles embossed with the names "Heinz and Noble."
In 1876, Henry Heinz combined with some relatives to form a company that produced a new product called Ketchup--and the rest is food history.
The above reference to numbers is to the fact that the catsup bottles were numbered on the bottom, according to the club, a big plus for collectors.
If you're a button collector, then you should dig deep for the hefty $45 price tag and buy Ted Hake's latest collector's masterpiece, "Collectible Pin-Back Buttons, 1896-1986" (Hake's Americana & Collectibles Press, P.O. Box 1444, York, Pa. 17405, 324 pp, indexed).
More than 5,000 buttons are pictured in color and black-and-white photos in this coffeetable book. Accompanying the illustrations is information on age, color and value.
Hake undoubtedly is the button collector's guru, but this book should also interest historians, sociologists and others chronicling American life during the past 100 years. And it should fit comfortably next to Hake's three-volume "Encyclopedia of Political Buttons, 1896-1972," another major publishing event for button collectors.
The book's subjects range from animals to world's fairs to entertainment, famous people, the military and sports. Written along with button collector Russ King, Hake says the book's buttons were "selected for their historic or graphic significance."
"Interest in this particular collectible continues to grow," Hake says in the foreword to this ambitious volume.
Collectors getting serious about acquiring antique phonographs should tap into the reservoir of knowledge of the members of the California Antique Phonograph Society, P.O. Box 67, Duarte, Calif. 91010.
With some 300 members, the group is believed to be the largest phonograph society on the West Coast. It meets at 2 p.m. on the third Sunday of every month at Mercury Savings & Loan, 235 N. Citrus Ave., West Covina. The $10 membership fee includes a bimonthly newsletter.
For further information, write P.O. Box 6773, Huntington Beach, Calif. 92615.