You have all seen them. They are everywhere you go. Most people have had one in their collection at one time or another. There isn’t a day go by when there are at least 3 on eBay. And more than one can count at any given bottle show. I’m talking about the KV-1. When seen, most disregard them as one of the most common of poison bottles. It shares this label along with the KH-26, 27 and KO-5 variant.
But, we must not hastily disregard these so quickly. This is because many of these common pieces of antiquity have rare variations. Case in point: Using the rarity chart created by the APBCA being 1-5 (1 being the most common, 5 being 10 or less known) The KC-49 by John Wyeth. The common issue is in cobalt. (rarity 1, $15). Put that in amber flavor, it jumps to a rarity of 5 and a $300-500 price tag (with label and lid) The KH-26 is most common in amber, but just recently, we discovered an unlisted issue in cornflower. Value is unknown other that what we paid for it.
So, let’s start with the origins of this bottle. It was designed and patented by Henry D. Ridgely on September 4th, 1906 (Pat. # D38,221) The original design did not have any embossing on it, just the ribs down each of the 3 edges.
Now, the common version of this bottle was made by Eli Lilly. They came in BIMAL and AMB and have a tooled lip (there is a screw top version as well). It came in amber and clear flavors (the clear is quite a bit scarcer). But depending on its variation, depends on its value. See, the POISON embossing either was not present (as it was originally designed), on the left side only, right only, or both. They also came in a range of sizes (larger being harder to find).
Recently, we discovered there was another maker of this bottle prior to Eli Lilly. It was Frederick Lorenz & Co (embossing: F. L. & Co) The one example I have ever seen is in our position. It has a rolled lip and is 2” tall, no embossing. It’s hard to put a value on this as it’s something that I have never seen, but will look for in the future.
***EDIT*** See post #10 for corrections
Most commonly, we find these bottles without their labels. Even less so, with their contents. Usually, the ones with labels are the red and white labels with “Poison” over a diamond with the word “Diamond” in it and “Antiseptics” below that. The contents were Mercury Bichloride. They were diamond in shape (the blue ones) with rounded corners, skull and crossbones on one side and “Poison” on the other.
Below is a chart I copied from one of our books outlining the variations of this bottle and its relative value. Cells with no value entry are non existent or unknown.
This kind of puts a new look on this bottle. Yes, the majority of the ones we see are the $5-10 range, but always check to see which one it is. You never know when you will run into something that is genuinely worth something more than your coffee at Starbucks.
But note, do not mistake a KV-2 for a KV-1. They look identical, but the KV-2 only comes 10 ¾ tall and the ‘N’ on the left side is reversed. It’s worth $300. Below I have included images of the bottles mentioned above. You can see the KC-49 (both issues) on my collection post here https://www.antique-bottles.net/foru.../tm.htm#251229 .
The Eli Lilly issue KV-1
The E. L. & Co ebmossed issue KV-1 (corrected)
KH-26 and its unlisted Cornflower issue and a KH-27
athometoo, I too have 'F' on my other KV-1s as well (and 1 with numbers all over the base in different orientations). As I am not entirely sure as to what it means, I'm quite sure they are of the same maker as the rest of them as I don't see it likely that there were 3 different makes of this bottle (but I wouldn't rule it out entirely either, which may be Fairmount Glass Works possibly). As for the rolled lip issue you have, it could be just an earlier issue before they went to the tooled lip as the rest of your collection. But I would gather that both of your right side embossed issues would be $20 as the other like embossed sizes. You could bump up the price on the rolled lip a bit as there not as common as the tooled.
I have always liked the variety that these KV-1s offer. It is one of the few bottles that I would like to find a screw-cap version of. Those are very tough to find. The ones I have dug around here usually have POISON on the left side, and I also have a small one with it on the right.
I used to be a big poison guy, specializing in the KI-1 and KI-2 irregular hexes. I miss them, but I got really into local bottles, inks and pontiled medicines. The thought of getting back into the KIs still crosses my mind, and I may very well do it some day. ~Jim
Funny thing, we dont have any KI-1 or 2s. For whatever reason, they have never jumped out at my wife like most others. One thing I cant wrap my brain around is, I have seen many of them, unlike a lot of bottles we have, and they still bring a 3 figure price tag, depending on the issue. I would like to get one example of a KI-1 and 2, but I dont see us getting into all the variations. That would take some serious ching.
Excitement is over folks. After a bit of research by our friend up north (thank you Joan) and a gross oversight on my part. The F.L. & Co suspect of a KV-1 is not possible. F.L. & Co was in business from 1819 to 1841. Many years prior to the design and patent date of this bottle. It is thus believed the weak embossing on the base of the bottle should read E.L. & Co.
Even though it's not the unknown maker of this bottle we once thought, it's still a nice piece to have.