Augusta on Glass by Bill Baab
An American Digger Magazine Review for Our History Project
74 pgs soft cover
$40 (includes shipping)
Available from the author
Bill Baab, 2352 Devere Street,
Augusta, GA 30904.
Review by Charlie Harris
American Digger Magazine
Most collectors know that Southern made bottles are highly collectible. This new 74 page book by Bill Baab helps prove that point. It is very well laid out with the help of Kathy Hopson-Sathe, the editor of Bottles and Extras magazine, who is well qualified to help with such publishing ventures.
Mr. Bill Baab began bottle collecting, like the majority of us, as a casual collector in a hobby based greatly on chance. As he says in the introduction, “You happen to find an old bottle in a junk yard, another in an antique store, and soon you have a collection that you know little about, except the size, shape and color of your bottles.” Bill is trying to change that lack of knowledge when it comes to the bottles of Augusta, Georgia.
What makes Bill different from many other collectors is his zeal in identifying the provenance of each item, involving time consuming investigations of the newspaper archives and city directories. Eventually, he became known as the “Bottle Man of Augusta,” a well deserved title.
It is the voracious search, as a hobby, that led Bill into the compilation and publication of this book. Of course, his friends urging him along the way didn’t hurt matters either. This book is written in a very easy to read style and an interesting format that tends to keep one from laying it down in preference of jobs around the house that need to be done before heading out into the field. He has researched every known bottle and glass manufactory in and around Augusta, Georgia, and unselfishly passes the acquired information on to the reader.
One of Bill’s crowning achievements was when he proved and documented that the famous, rare and in high demand “FROG POND” bottle was not a Charleston, SC, bottle as had been previously thought, but an Augusta bottle. This was one of the Golden Threads now belonging to the Augusta bottle collectors and a great boost to the “Local Pride” of antique bottle collecting.
Not only does Bill share what he has learned from these years of research, but he also includes good color photographs of many of the finds from the collections of others along with his own. He even covers the pottery jug makers from the Augusta vicinity, giving them near equal coverage in the history of the Augusta bottle and container production.
This book is definitely an asset for the advanced collector, but the beginner should not shy away from it, for the down to earth knowledge imparted is valuable to all concerned. At the beginning of the book he also gives the reader a glossary of bottle terms, a great help in keeping the novice from becoming confused.
As is expected in a venture like this undertaking, he forthrightly admits that as soon as the book was published, new finds will probably be made, making the work obsolete. This is expected in all research books and hopefully there will be updated copies available in the future. It should be noted that he doesn’t give values to any of the bottles. While some may think this regretful, I see it is a plus, as values can fluctuate so often. Instead, he uses a rarity scale in the last part of the book, assigning the items a number from 1 (common) to 6 (rare or unique). These scales will hold true long after any listed value would become obsolete.
All things considered, this book should be a must-read by not only those who specialize in southern bottles, but those who have an interest in Augusta history.
(American Digger Vol 4 Issue 3)
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