Discovered a Big, Juicy, (previously) Un-Dug TOC Dump Full of Peoria Bottles!

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Dec 4, 2007
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Peoria Co.
One wouldn't normally consider January in Illinois to be conducive to the discovery and digging of bottles, but in the past few weeks I've made out quite well.

A little while back I had been digging in my 1920s dump and pulled some nice local milks, sodas, a BIM druggist I needed, and found a Sterling silver spoon in the creek adjacent to the spot. Pretty good haul considering the location and age. Pics may be posted later, but I am far more excited about the more recent chain of events:

This past Friday, I was on my way back home from the Post Office and on a whim decided to check out an area for spots which would be good for metal detection come the spring thaw. Thanks to that whim, what would have been another dreary and unmemorable day initiated a chain of events that led to the discovery of a fabulous and untouched TOC dump loaded with the stuff I love to dig. Literally the best quality dump I've had the pleasure of digging since the TOC dump I found and systematically mined between 2007-2010, and it is a bit older too. I am still in shock. The bottle gods truly smiled upon me the past few days.

Anyway, I was slogging around the possible detecting area, then decided to walk a nearby creek that I had explored in years past. All I found was a screw-top Phillip's milk-o-mag, but I kept pressing onward, despite the temperature and the cynical expectation that nothing noteworthy would be found. I had explored this area many times before and never found anything nice, but intuition dictated that somewhere in the area the goods were to be had, but most likely buried many feet under more recent fill.

After resisting the thoughts suggesting I turn back and go home several times, I arrived at the "end of the trail" and upon scanning the banks, I saw old BIM beer and soda shards that had washed out from higher up. I looked up and was greeted with a promising sight:


Despite being more-or-less frozen in, I grabbed what I figured was a common 1910s soda and removed it with ease. I could hardly believe what I was holding:


And not just any hutch either! The "Advance Bottling Co Peoria, ILL" hutch is a purdy darn scarce one; I have dug/obtained 3 or 4 different style BIM crowns from the firm, and purchased a hutch cheap from a disgruntled digger, but never came across even fragments of one in all previous digs/hunts. From what I gather they are 50-60 dollar bottles. It does have a ding in the lip which revealed itself after cleaning, but I was still happy as a clam with the find. Hadn't dug or found any hutches in quite a while so even finding a common one would have been awesome. I called up my father to share the exciting news, and it lit a fire under his arse too, heh.

The next day (this past Saturday), my father and I eagerly went back to the spot with tools (I had none on me when I found the hutch) and tore up the bank. Despite dreams of hundreds of sugar-plum hutches dancing around the layer, all we pulled was an ABM Bouvier Buchu Gin flask and a rather ugly local 4 ounce McDougal druggist, which I already had. Still, we'll take it!


We kept at it for a while but the seam petered out and we found nothing else, and decided to take off. My father wanted to leave and go home, and I kinda did too, but the weather was nice for January so I convinced him that we should check out a different spot and see if anything turned up since my last visit.

I found a crap 1960 12 ounce coke, and we were about to leave but I decided that we should check out a nearby area that I had explored in past summers, but never checked out in the winter when visibility is far better. (I think you can tell where this is going... [:)])

And even then, I had pessimistic thoughts cross my mind and thought we were wasting time and should turn back, but then I saw it...

A groundhog hole and the tailings it kicked out...

Stoneware, clinkers, and BIM shards everywhere. A Winslows soothing syrup laying near the entrance, and blank BIM druggist bottles scattered about. I about crapped myself. [:D]

I "surveyed" the area and realized that I was standing on a rather large and likely deep dumpsite, and scrutinized the area for evidence of what lay below. SS coke shards, hutch shards, flasks, druggists, jugs, 1858 masons and more were represented.

My father and I discussed the possibilities, and I offered my intuitive analysis of the topography which was proven correct shortly thereafter. Anyway, we left the spot but while warming up at home all I could think about was that groundhog hole, and the splendid potential the spot possessed. I couldn't take it anymore and went back to the spot equipped with the proper tools and busted through the frost.

It was extraordinary. First of all, there was no cap! Just 1 foot down was the first layer of bottles, I'd guess deposited no later than 1910, and within a few minutes I had a green Piso's bottle and some slicks. I dug deeper and deeper and kept hitting different layers of alternating garbage and ash. At 5 feet I pulled a druggist bottle from a guy who died in 1902. 6 feet and no bottom in sight, but i was more interested in following the exposed seams of refuse than going deeper.

My father called and upon hearing the news had to come back to see it for himself. When he arrived, I was scratching in the shallow, 1 foot deep layer and started finding local druggists. Ones I had never dug before. Father was thoroughly impressed, and when I'd pull one I felt was embossed I'd hand it to him for identification. That way both of us could experience the thrill of discovery.

I dug for about 1 hour and 45 minutes then packed up and left. Here's (most of) the haul, including a flawless glass mug with a hint of SCA, and a no-town broken druggist on the left that research indicates was from Chicago, so no real tragedy there:


Never dug anything from this fellow before. When it first came out the intricate embossing was immediately visible, and my reflexive nonverbal vocalizations of awe and excitement sounded to my observing father like I was having an orgasm down in the pit [:D]. Vocalized ecstasy turned to disappointment when the crack was discovered, but it's still a keeper:

Another new one:

Another new one. This is the guy who died in 1902.

Not included is a beautiful local 4 ounce druggist that had some tenacious rust stains. My father took that back with him to Mississippi to work on cleaning in his spare time. I should get him to send me a pic.

The green Larkin bottle is very nice, the stopper works as it should, and the clear cone ink says "Bixby" on the bottom. At first I figured it was just a Carter's cone.

On Sunday I had to get back in there and do some more digging! Took some time to clear the hole and choose a seam to follow, but it was quite productive and informative, as you will see.

In the winter, I often like to excavate tunnels and exploit the juiciest layers with a minimum of effort. Many people caution against such practices but I have an observant and intelligent method and will not be changing my ways, so don't bother. [8D]

I saw The Hobbit recently, so the tunnel I dug, which extended at least 12 feet horizontally, brought to mind parallels with the dwarven miners excavating their mountain for valuables. Soon I was dreaming about finding "The Arkenbottle", ("The heart of the garbage mountain, haha. [:D])

The arkenbottle did not appear, but when I saw this at the end of my tunnel, the possibility of finding a stenciled "Arkenjug" loomed large in my mind:


Note the exposed olive oil bottle underneath the jugs:

Alas, the Arkenjug was not to be, but beyond the jugs the refuse layer gets THICK and extremely juicy. I now know precisely where to sink my next pit in order to intercept the truly glorious garbage seam. Can't wait to see what comes out of there.

Anyway, the finds were somewhat different as I was exploiting a totally different layer than the day before, and although I only added 1 new bottle to the Peoria collection versus 4 the previous day it was still extremely rewarding:


The melted hutch in the middle came from a thin burned layer. Would have been a nice one, as it is a clear example and I've only dug the aqua ones. The larkin bottle with contents is interesting. Looks like it held toothpaste? There are lots of larkin bottles in this dump, for whatever reason.

This is the first Kirwan & Tobin hutch I've ever dug. Not rare, but a nice one to find. There were/are lots and lots of hutch shards in the layer, thankfully most of the broken ones were commons I've dug plenty of though there were some good ones represented, including a hutch from Rock Island, IL. Hopefully I hit the motherload of hutches when I sink the next pit in the thick of the beautiful garbage layer. If it wasn't 8 degrees outside I'd be there now.

This is the second hutch of this type that I've ever dug, and it is a particularly scarce one. I believe that it is contemporary with their Crown-top sodas, and represents the last run of hutches made as the technology was being phased out. The earlier hutches are common as heck in my experience. Interestingly, it was found in the same manner I found the first one back on February 15, 2009. Both fell from the roof of the tunnel excavation practically into my lap as i was increasing the height of the passage. Pretty awesome. Also, the glass in the base is extremely thin for a hutch so I was very pleased to find that it had no chips or cracks. It has some sickness but is in better shape than the first one, which has some noticeable case wear

No local druggists yesterday, but did pull a nifty one from Chicago.

Pulled 2 nice "Dr. E. L. Graves Unequaled Tooth Powder Chicago" bottles. Can't seem to find much on them, are they common?

This Vaseline wouldn't normally have interested me, but I kept it for a few reasons. First, it appears ABM but I was wondering if it was made using an earlier semi-automatic machine? It has no suction scar on the base and from that vantage looks like a BIM piece. Also, the residual contents seem to have preserved the lid well enough to make out a reference to the 1876 Centennial exposition, which I would consider a rather dated reference for a 1910s ABM example.



The better bottle finds from the 3 days, minus 1 gorgeous 4 ounce local druggist which is getting cleaned:

...and the larger of the 2 jugs shown in-situ. The white one was missing the handle and got re-buried:

I've never seen a jug with a protruding shoulder like that. It looks like a gallon crock got fused with the top of a jug, and was quite perplexing as I slowly extracted it. Wonder what was going on there.

Anyway, without a doubt this dump will be a goldmine in terms of finding new stuff for the collection (and some valuable stuff to sell too), and will probably provide many years worth of consistent, if not constant digging. It is extremely accessible, fluffy and super easy to dig, and besides myself the dump has been totally untouched by past diggers. It is hard to believe that a spot of such size, quality and productive potential escaped discovery until now, and seeing how I haven't gotten close to reaching bottom it could be loaded with stuff considerably older that what I've hit so far. I could probably invite a dozen diggers to share in the delights of the dump and I'd still get truckloads for myself.

Aside from the bottles themselves, finding a truly good and worthwhile local dump to replace the TOC dump I dug out was at the top of my list, though I had been discouraged by years of hiking around and never finding a suitable replacement. On Halloween I found a smallish TOC dump that produced interesting things, and finding the spot made me quite happy, but this newest discovery blows it out of the water in every respect. My father and I share many interests and hobbies, but digging bottles together is one of the most rewarding things we do. At the core we are diggers first and collectors second. If we couldn't dig, we probably wouldn't actively spend good money to expand the collection. Digging for milks and sodas in our large '20s dump is a great bonding experience, but rarely is it particularly exciting. Finding this spot was akin to winning the lottery, and to share that with my father made it so much more special. I can't wait to pound the hell out of the dump once spring arrives and I can easily sink some monster pits large enough for both of us to dig in comfortably. It is safe to say that my dreams of hundreds of quality sugar-plum bottles to be harvested are now a reality. Man I'm stoked. [:)]


Well-Known Member
Oct 21, 2012
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HOLY CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!! Them sir are some nice local bottles for both of us! That hutch with the anchor on it is is is unbelievable! All of those druggist bottles and all from Peoria! WOW WOW WOW! is all I can say. Oh man now I gotta wipe the drool off of my keyboard! Congrats sir! Those are the bottle digs I dream about! I hope to acquire those bottles for my collection someday!!!!!! [sm=thumbup.gif][sm=thumbup.gif][sm=thumbup.gif][sm=thumbup1.gif]


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May 3, 2009
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Great stuff Plumb, that jug is funky indeed. Good luck with your digs there in the future, I look forward to more of these kinds of posts...


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Jan 27, 2008
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I am expecting this to be a long thread with lots of good pictures !!


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Oct 18, 2005
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all i can say deserve it have given so much to all of its your turn ...rock on brother!!!


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Mar 8, 2007
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Lehigh Valley USA
Awesome stuff plumb! I LOVE the anchor hutch & the jug all the bottles are cool. I needed to see some "in ground action" I haven't been digging for a whileeeeeeeeee I need to get out and see some of that chit my self [:D]

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steve wheeler