One from the archives, dug Stoddard Flask

My daughter Annie is 21 years old, which makes it easy for me to remember how long ago I dug this flask.  I dug it 3 days after she was born.  It was the first time I left the house since we brought Annie home from the hospital. I told my wife Cristina, spontaneously, that I was “going to go dig Annie a bottle”.   There was a site I had found right up the street a couple of weeks earlier, but the top of the ground had frozen over, and I couldn’t penetrate it with my digger. It was 1/4 mile up the road, right along side the shoulder of the pavement, where I could see two old buckets, half buried.  I had passed it a hundred times, and assumed there would be nothing there, since it was visible from the road.

I pulled up one of the buckets and started to dig, and it loosened up underneath, opening up some rust patches, and some aqua glass…a good sign.  I made a small hole with my digger, then reached down to clear away with my glove, and felt what felt like a whole bottle.  I looked down into the hole, after brushing away the dirt, and was shocked to see the word STODDARD staring right back at me!   I pulled it out, and it was mint.  I ran back to my van, and sped down the road, back up my driveway.  I had been gone for only about ten minutes, so when I peeled into the driveway honking my horn, my wife met me at the door thinking something was very wrong.

I stood on the front porch holding the bottle, ‘Stoddard” side facing her. She said “You didn’t dig that,  who gave it to you?”

So that was Annie’s bottle.  We followed her with another daughter and a son, Chloe and Quincy.  I did my best to replicate my feat when they were born, which I did.  But I have to admit, a lettered Stoddard flask was impossible to top!Stodd Flask

Downeast Digger Mini-Documentary on Digging and Diving for bottles (by Annie Hepburn)

My daughter Annie called me from school at U Maine Oromo, and said she needed to do a 5 minute documentary for her new media class, and could she do it on me bottle digging.  Of course I said yes because I want to help in any way, but all I could picture was spending an afternoon at some old dump site with her, and coming up empty, just  digging through shards. So I was stoked when I managed to scratch up a smooth base W.E. Bonney barrel ink! Here’s the video! I can’t tell you how impressed I am with the job Annie did with this!

Dr. Bowman’s Healing Embrocation Pontil

Bottle :  Bowman’s Genuine Healing Embrocation  clear  Pontil   8 sided

Year dug: 2003

Where dug:  Rye N.H.

Type of site:  Rock Wall small trash site


Notes:  This dump was found right behind a muffler shop on Route 1.  Route 1 is a very very old road, also called Post Rd, because it was the road that connected all the coastal town’s post offices  (and there was a tall “post”  with a hanging bag of mail on it, so the wagon driver wouldn’t have to get off the wagon, and could just grab the bag of mail as he passed).

I have found many dumps over the years, right behind the businesses that are on Route 1 all up and down the north east.  If you look at many of the businesses, the buildings may be new, but you look at the foundation shape, and it is often a rectangle, horizontal to the road, which was common to the layout of buildings in the 1700s. 

This bottle was found in a small dump right off the back parking lot of a modern business.  There was an old rock wall I noticed, and a little polluted stream running behind it.  Amongst the little, I could see some older iron and buckets. At one point this older trash was concentrated, and I scratched around with my potato rake and started finding old bottle shards.  Eventually, I found a couple dozen whole bottles from the 1800s over the course of a couple of hours.  I dug a milk glass candy dish in the shape of a battle ship, the “State of Maine”  It was broken, but I glued it nice enough to display.

This small Bowmans bottle was in perfect condition.  It is a rip off from a similar bottle with the name Blackman.  Actually, I can’t remember who ripped off whom.  It has a strange type of pontil, common to clear flint glass like this.

Bowmans.jpgBowmans pontil.jpg