Rarities & Observations

A few rarities have popped up recently but they haven’t stayed in my possession for very long.


By far the rarest item I’ve had, went almost immediately to a cream pot collector. 


A rare one from Edenderry, Co Offaly, even more so this far up north. Fantastic looking thing, gone straight to another collector.



Here’s the repaired blue top from the previous post, looks 100 times better and staying with me because of it.


A great looking pair added to the growing Derry/Londonderry Collection. The Grand Central Bar still exists today with the original Felix Mulhern signage still above the door.


An auction win, I don’t find much value at auction but this was the exception. James McAllister Ballymena Soda Syphon.


In my opinion one of the nicest looking cream pots from the north.


This McAllister label is attached to a Murphys soda syphon. A bit of friendly banter or something more sinister perhaps.



NOT MINE! but worth preserving the image. I’d say this is the fanciest Irish flagon I’ve ever seen or ever likely to see. I assume it’s a one off for a display, possibly for a exhibition.


A barely hanging in there label.

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Things & Stuff.

Forgive the absence, it’s been slim pickings this year as the weather has been atrocious and one of my go to markets has ceased trading. Anyways here’s some nice bits I’ve found.


A lovely set of Green Glass Beers all from the very southern counties of Ireland. LTR, Counties Clare, Cork, Limerick & Clare. They’ve all been recovered from rivers by a diver buddy.


It might seem silly to own a broken bottle but when it’s old and rare enough it gets displayed just as if it where whole.


This is a holy grail for collectors, the elusive blue top. To that end it is currently in the hands of a professional ceramics restorer. 


1970’s bar clock, Brass effect metal and perspex, slightly more desirable with “Extra Stout” rather than “Draught”.


Not spectacular but I like it. Made in Dublin sealed the deal.


Soup bowl from a seaside town, the hotel is closed but the town itself is still booming when so many seaside resorts are ghost towns and our weather is worse!


These are the standout bits and pieces from the past three months. Enjoy.

P.S. A few more things I’ve seen around and couldn’t acquire.


These cistern pull handles are so so rare and thus expensive.


Another from an auction in Dublin, not for me but nice to look at all the same.


oh man oh man! This would have been something special. Peach glass Soda Syphon/Siphon. Cairnes & Co Drogheda.

P.P.S. Hello Tristan!


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Labels – Derry, Donegal and beyond

Like I said I’ve been getting into labels and here are some of the more local ones I’ve picked up.


This pub operated right up until 2004 and was adored by locals. From what I remember it was an old school pub with dark mahogany booths and bar stools.


Sadly no longer operating.

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There are seemingly quite a lot of these labels still knocking about, owing to the fact it was a rather late opening company, who when folded just closed the doors and walked away.

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My mother tells me she remembers the the Maddens red style of label in the early 70’s.


Queens Street L/Derry, Built 1900

Watt & Co was primarily based in Derry City with a few depots dotted around the country. Their Letterkenny operation was much smaller & short lived that this label is quite rare and sought after.

Sligo is a good 100 miles away but still had to have these as (a) they are very colourful & (b) very cheap.

A good start to a label collection I think, will be on the lookout for more.

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2017 Wrap up



I’ve added some really nice pieces to my collection this year, good quality keepers. I had a lot of time to myself the past 12 months so have been able to focus on sniffing them out compared to previous years.

Not just bottles either, got my 1st lid, my 1st slab seal flagon, found myself getting drawn to labels and now have a burgeoning collection and found another enamel tray which I again traded away.

I can neither expect 2018 to be better or worse than 2017, it will be what it will be but I have an ever growing list of contacts so one can be hopeful.

Happy Holidays to whom ever is reading and all the best for 2018.


A book 10 years in the making has just been released, a Xmas present to the bottle collecting world.

It’s the 1st publication of it’s kind for Irish Stoneware bottles and is very comprehensive and sure to become the quintessential reference guide.

Priced at £20 +P&P with all profits going to Alzheimer’s Research UK.


If you are interested head on over to http://www.irish-ginger-beers-and-stone-stouts.co.uk/

Thanks to Neil Cutcliffe, Eugene Markey & Joe Maguire for their time and effort in pulling all this info together in one handy place.

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So much for winding down.

Usually come Septemeber things slow down on the collecting side of things as boot fairs finish for the season and auctions slowly turn into glorified xmas stores. However I have managed to add some very significant peices, well significant to me anyhow.


Five new Derry Stouts, two with great appeal to me for obvious reasons. The John Kerr is a buy back, one in which I traded last year and regretted, the City Bottling Co is one I dug from a victorian tip a few days ago. I hadn’t dug a full stoneware bottle in ages and its always nice to add to the collection without forking out cash.

This is my first lid and comes to me by way of a trade. It’s tiny and known as a button lid, it measures about 2.5cm across and I will probably never find a base to fit due to the size. The pictorial is of the city crest, Thomas Watson was a Wig Maker and Perfumer on Shipquay street, no difinitive dates but he is listed 1880/84/90.


They look fantastic, very pleased with them. The small wooden object is a wax seal stamp from William McCool Derry, a great go with for the McCool collection.



A local Limavady man, Nelson McGonigle has published a new book entitled “Limavady and the Roe Valley Memories” containing old photographs of the people and places of bygone Limavady. There is also a small display at the Civic centre in town, so if you happen to be passing through its on til early January and its free.

I was surprised to find a few bottles on display and ones I’d never seen before. Couldn’t help it and had to snap them.

I was sure that Limavady didn’t have named Chemist bottles, happy to be proven wrong. G.W. Lawson Victoria Drug Hall Limavady & Joeseph Irwin Limavady Medical Hall.




The following is all the stuff I couldn’t take home with me from the auction houses. 😦 or bits I seen while out and about.


How good does that look, one of a very few of these still about. Seen this in one of the bars along Waterloo Street in the city. Not only was there a Canadian House in the city there was also an American Bar and they had a bottle too, both are highly sought after.


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July & August Carbooting & Collection Additions

It’s been a 50/50 Summer Weather wise, haven’t got to nearly as many bootsales as I could’ve., even so I’ve added quite a few really good items to my ever growing collection beyond the Auctions that happened at the start of July.


1st up is this charming little half Gallon flagon from Patrick Murphy Ballymena, I collect this name in particular because they had a depot not more than a mile from my home.


What a line up, Hey? Not all got in the one go mind you but don’t they look good. The Black Watt print is harder to come by than the blue print ones, normally it’s the other way about with bottles, the blue print being a more expensive option but A.A Watt at the time where the worlds biggest supplier of whiskey so money was not an issue.

The Thwaites and the Guinness Double Stout where both had at the same table at a random one off bootsale at an Equestrian Centre and where had for a very reasonable price. So perhaps there is merit in seeking out these slightly more upmarket venues.

The broken bottle and cream pot where had off a digger driver after a response to an advert on local Facebook pages. So it pays to hunt on all platforms.


A rather unflattering photograph but in person this bottle is a fine specimen. This and the Thwaites are destined as a swap at the next club meeting as I dont really collect outside of Ulster, for no other reason than financial.


The one on the left is the subject of this paragraph, bought in a private sale only a few days ago, pictured with it’s less decorative counterpart. A much sought after bottle due to the fanciness of the print.


Left: A York Glass Co Pharmacy bottle, YGco where known for their well finished and strong glass. Orininally would of had a label that would of fitted that recess perfectly but in a rather anti-victorian way this was reused. Troch Bish? I hear you ask, pharmacy short hand for Throat Lozengers made with Bi-Sulphate, Troch being derived from Trochisus. There is a whole lexicon of Pharmacy shorthand it’s an interesting read.

Right: A couple of consumer labelled Pharmacy items. A little Olive oil from Joe Martin Pharmasist Roe Street Belfast, the label is barely hanging on. A green poison from L.H. Breadon, Main Street Portstewart.


N. Carolan & Co Dundalk 6oz Codd Bottle. A keeper for sure, of all the bottles in my collection I only have 3 small codds. They weren’t as popuar as the 10oz size so fewer where produced. Highly sought after by collectors and can command a high price (usually £50+). I however got this for a tenner.


Not a tobaccoiana collector what so ever but the Art nouveau look of these items is very appealing, perhaps a new line of collecting?


The tiniest of cream pots that i’ve ever seen, Enfield is a Belfast Company. I’d assume this would have been used in a Tearoom as a single serve, I can’t see it being sold too the general public.


HOC Exelene Lubricating Oil. A real old design to this one, again another art nouveau design and again not a petroliana collector but this was free and so it came home with me. A quick google tells me the Humber Oil Company started n 1919, so I’d assume this to be one of their 1st products.

Septemeber is the last push for the bootsellers to get rid of stock before the big xmas rush so there are and will be more bargains to be had. WATCH THIS SPACE!

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A good start to July

Lets start things off with the best find. A Victorian toilet pull with advertising for G.B. Thompson/ Plumber/ Larne. Came in a job lot that I bought in a recent auction, Only thing in the box that I wanted and everyone else seemed not to have spotted it.

My 1st one of these ever and as I have come to find out these are rather rare and are quite sought after. I reckon this will be going into my permanent collection.


A small thistle shaped shot glass from the 1938 Empire Exhibition 1938 held in Glasgow. Amazing that this has survived as the glass is almost paper thin. Probably just one of a hundred different nik naks sold as souviners.


A pair of labelled ink bottles from Wm Mayall & Co Manchester. The left one being older due to the method of manufacture. It’s known as a shear lip bottle, basically the glass was blown into a mold and the end broken off leaving behind an unfinished rim. Cheap and simple method to produce bottles. On the right, the same method is used but then another blob of glass is added to the top and finished to make a lip, longer process but makes a stronger bottle.


Left is pre 1900, right is post 1900

3 salt glaze stonware inks, the little one is known as a penny ink or pork pie ink due to it’s resemblance of one. The taller ones are made by Lovett & Watt Co.


A lovely Blue print Belfast Ginger Beer. This is one of those bottles where the blue prints are easier to find than the black prints. Another that springs to mind is also a Belfast Bottle (Wm Corry & Co).


This is a nice little, fairly modern milk bottle. Local to me in a sense, while it would take an hour or more to drive round the coast to get here, I can in fact grab a ferry that gets me there in 15 minutes as it is only 5 miles across Lough Foyle as the crow flies.


The following are just observations from an auction I visited.



12 1/2 CHurch street?


Extremely rare oil bottle, hammer price £170.


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