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.

Image (24)

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.

Image (27)

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.

Posted in Ephemera, Guinness, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

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

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

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.


Posted in Uncategorized

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!

Posted in Uncategorized

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.


Posted in Uncategorized

Bootsale Buys, Club Swaps & Auction finds – April – June 2017

An image dump of my finds from the past 10 weeks or so. I’ve been to loads of bootsales since the weather picked up, had a bottle club swap meet and been to a very cool auction that contained well over a 1000 lots from a private collection spanning 60 years.



Hamilton Todd – Coleraine

Unusual shaped glass bottle, in the style of  earlier ginger beer stoneware bottles. Dates to 1940’s, possibly made to commemorate a special event. I’ve already added this to the previous post “Coleraine”.



Small timetable for LMS NCC 1946 booklet, not hugely interesting other than the ad on the inside cover for The Railway Hotel Portrush.

Again not super interesting but it’s a courtesy map of Ballymena given by a no longer in operation auctioneer & estate agents. Cool ad inside for the Ford Capri, which helps date it too.

Picked up a few other bottles and things but common stuff that I have since sold on.

Club Meet

The Irish Antique Bottle Collectors Club, who up until 20th may had been a virtual one only had a swap meet in Dundalk at Fitzpatricks Bar. I swapped a few, sold a few and bought a few.


Maddens mineral water co – Londonderry Codds

The one on the left is the one I traded a Dundalk Whisky for, I found the N. Carolans at the bootsale a week earlier. Very fortunate considering the meet was in Dundalk and the swap was with a Dundalkian.. Dundalker?


Watt & Co Applied Lip Seltzer Bottle

This was bought from the founder of said club, a crown top seltzer bottle. A.A Watt was one of the biggest companies in Derry and have some 57 different bottles but this is probably in the top ten (of theirs) most difficult to come by.


N. Lancashire Chemists Ballymena

Bought the blob top at the meet and the Codd at an antique shop on the way home from Dundalk. Pleased with both but more so with the codd as it is extremely sought after.


The Braid Mineral Water Company

A very hard to come buy 6oz swing stopper with Boar pictorial. Especially with bail and stopper attached and original.


This auction was held 10th June at premises in Rasharkin, the collection was built up over 60 years by one person and was contained in 3 very large sheds. It had everything from steam traction engines to signs to antique tools and of course my favourites, bottles.


James Holmes & Co/ Cromac St./ Belfast

This was a seemingly unheard of codd and has already went to a codd collector. I bought it with the intention of moving on as codds aren’t my forte.


Hugh Anderson/ Coleraine


This I believe was my star buy at this auction, a 3.5 Gallon Slab Seal Flagon in what I think is original wicker basket. I have been able to date this quite accurately to between 1870 & 1873. The amount of dirt and grease may put some people off but I love it.


Trayders “waiters tray”

This is the 2nd one of these I’ve come across this year, I swapped the 1st one I had and kinda regretted it. I gladly grabbed this one even if I did pay a little too much for it. I’ve treated this one with rust converter to stave off any further damage.

That’s it for now, another lifetime collection auction to go to this Saturday and a bootsale on Sunday so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions and perhaps would like to buy something or have any bottles to sell/swap send me a message.

Posted in Uncategorized


Before County Londonderry was called that it was known as County Coleraine, so it’s namesake town of almost 25,000 people has always been a prominent place within the North West.

Situated on the River Bann it rose during Victorian times to be an important port town being only 5 miles along the river to Lough Foyle. Noted for it Linens, Salmon & Whiskey.

In 1861 there where at least 7 Spirit Dealers/Merchants and 15 Pubs & 7 Hotels in town jumping in 1880 to 30 & 18 respectively. So it’s no surprise that there are Bottles and flagons out there, though at this point it’s anyone guess how many.


Patrick McLaughlin listed in 1901 having premises in the Waterside and the Diamond, this particular flagon is a late one probably 1900/10.

A 1 Gallon version with P McLaughlin, a bit older probably 1885ish

John McLaughlin listed in 1852 at Preaching House Lane (now Church Street), 1901 as having premises at Brook Street and ceased trading by 1918. Going by the crudeness of the letters and the darkness of the glaze I date this to 1880s.

Hamiton Todd & Co

Listed in 1907 BSD at premises on Circular road as a Mineral Water Manufacturer, seemingly taking over James Birch’s Mineral Water manufactory after his death in 1905.

It seems he was in business right up until his death in 1951 at which point Lyle & Kinahan of Belfast bought the business and ran it as a subsidiary under the original name.

Coleraine - Hamilton Todd & Co.jpg

Stoneware bottle with Coleraine Coat of Arms, no idea at present where Brookfield Works are. My hypothesis is that their location at Circular Road looks out onto a small Brook and perhaps they named their factory after such. This is most likely the first style of bottle they used as stoneware would have been the go to medium of aerated waters up until about 1920, it’s a swing stopper closure and would have had a ceramic lid no doubt with their name printed on.


They would have slowly started moving to glass as it became cheaper and I would say this bottle existed alongside the stoneware for a short period. Dates to 1910

Crown capped bottle, still an early bottle as it is an applied lip. 1920’s


I, along with a few others had assumed that this pictorial was of a dog, a greyhound or similar. With this sharp embossing however it’s clear to see that this is in fact a Fox with its bushy tail. Further supported as Todd is derived from the old english word Tod which translates as Fox and as such appears on various Todd coat of Arms.

This a much later machine-made bottle, with manufacturing processes being refined, more elaborate designs could be moulded. 1940’s


Another version with the Hamilton Todd coat of arms.


As you can see evidence of the take over of Lyle & Kinahan, 1951 onwards

Anderson & Stewart

Originally two separate address’ on Church Street, Hugh Anderson in 17a & John Stewart in 17b.

Hugh inherited the business in 1871 from his uncle Alexander who operated as a General Merchant. It’s unclear to me if John Stewart was in business at 17b or simply living there, either way the 2 address’ became one in 1874 and thus the Anderson & Stewart Spirit Merchants was born.

Hugh died in 1899 leaving John the business, it’s unclear when John passed away but the business operated until the 1960’s.


For the brief period of 3 years that Hugh ran his own business he dabbled in Spirits and this is where we get this behemoth 3 1/2 Gallon Flagon from. A slab seal impressed with H.Anderson/ Coleraine. Notice how the potter failed to cut of a few of the crescents, it’s little things like this that make me like collecting.


In original dirt covered wicker basket, all 145 years worth, this was bought at an auction in Rasharkin June 2017 and by all accounts had been sitting in a corner of a shed untouched for 50 years.


Rather less impressive this machine-made beer bottle from the 1950’s, would have had a paper label and probably a pictorial cap.

I will update this blog as I find more bottles from these main companies and may even do a part 2 as more items turn up.




Posted in Uncategorized