National antique bottle show uncorks enthusiasm for classic containers

sosborne@herald-leader.comJuly 31, 2014 

The art of glassmaking was America's first industry, dating back over 400 years to the first glassmaking workshop that opened in Jamestown, Va. in 1608. Lexington will celebrate the centuries-old art form this weekend as it hosts the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors Antique Bottle Show.

Sheldon Baugh, merchandise director and former president of the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors, said it is the first time Lexington will serve as host for the event.

"Lexington is a very historic city," Baugh said. "We'd like to invite everyone out and take part in a bottle extravaganza, It's going to be a great show, a lot of nice, interesting bottles for sale and we're going to have some beautiful displays to look at."

The event will feature more than 200 sales tables with dealers from more than 30 states. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own glassware and pottery, as experts will be on hand to appraise them in the same fashion as the PBS series Antiques Roadshow.

Tom Phillips, convention director for Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors, said the show will celebrate a rich history of glassmaking in the United States.

"What's neat about America is because of the melting pot situation there were artisans coming from all over the world, especially Europe," Phillips said. "The innovations in glassmaking were really accelerated in the United States, especially in the 19th century. There were major improvements in glassmaking every 10 to 20 years and pretty much by the mid-19th century, the best glass in the world was in the United States."

The show will include early American glassware and tableware, pottery, old advertising signs and other associated antiques. One of the rarest works on hand will be a tonic bottle made in Texas when it was still its own country in the 1840s. The bottle has a connection to Lexington, as it was dug up in a privy here in 1987. Phillips now has the bottle, worth nearly $5 in the 1840s, in his collection. It is one of only three known to be in existence.

Spectators will also have the opportunity to view 15 displays of antique collectibles, including historic Kentucky bottles made and used by the Shakers.

Visitors to the event also can vote on the best of show for the contest and are eligible to win one of eight drawings for a $500 gift certificate to be used at the show.

Sam Osborne: (859) 231-3308 Twitter: @samo430

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