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Some finds from Peoria, Illinois

Drift

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2018
126
28
Peoria, IL
Some nice bottles! Love that penguin bottle, I NEVER saw a penguin embossed on a bottle before - old or new. What's even more impressive at this point is that you are giving up home comforts to travel to all 50 states to hunt for bottles!! Wow!!! That is dedication!! Where will you store all the bottles you find? Will you also be going to country auctions and antique shops (lots of good finds there!)? Will you have WiFi in your van?

If/when you hit Chicago, there's an old, large dump where I found hundreds of 1870-1900 bottles during the early 1970s before they fenced-in construction sites. On a large plot at the corner of Western and Belmont Avenues, Riverview Amusement Park was built during the early 1900s, and from 1908 to around 1969, it was one of the nation's best amusement parks. I remember going there as a kid during the 1960s. You can look it up on the internet and there are maps of the area online.

It closed by the late 1960s and construction of DeVry College, Jewel supermarket etc. carried on. Lane Technical H.S. is also in that same area, built during the early 1900s too. Little did people know, a very large Chicago city garbage dump was UNDERNEATH the entire area. There is no access to that dump in these newer areas that now house these buildings.

However, one side of the area (west side?) is bordered by a branch of the Chicago River. You can still see stuff sticking out from its banks (as I recall around 1973). You could still dig there for a day or two, into the banks, under the newer pavements. Don't dig too long, somebody is likely to kick you out. And, you'd have to be careful not to dig too far into the dump, cave-ins could be risky.

I think the banks rise around 5-10+ feet above the river. I remember digging "caves" into the dump 5-7 feet below the surface (not directly from the river bank). Further down you go, the older the stuff is. During my 3 years digging there, I don't ever recall finding an ABM bottle - all were applied lipped.

This might give you a few days of digging and visiting Chicago! But be very careful and don't stay too long, and your "caves" shouldn't be too deep into the river banks. A few times, my "caves" fell on me, but I was not more than 3-4 feet in, and about 5 feet deep. I am not too familiar with how the situation is now, but if you're in the area, you might want to check it out! Inexpensive motels are around or along I-90/94 (if you get tired of your van for a couple of days!), about 4-5 blocks from the dumpsite.

When I think of the bottle treasures underneath the present buildings on top of the area, I want to cry, but is it what it is - "progress".... There were other bottle diggers there until construction crews fenced the area in, but only about 5% of the site was ever dug into by bottle collectors.

Good luck, I admire your adventurous spirit! Please every so often, "report" to us on this forum about your travels and finds!!
Wow!! Thank you for all of this info, it's very appreciated! I will definitely report my finds on this forum regularly. :D

I try not to tunnel too much, I'm paranoid about that from digging in Peoria where the soil is very sandy and prone to cave ins. Imagine my surprise watching a Digger Dave Beeler video wherein he cautions people about digging in Peoria, how it's not worth killing yourself for bottles, and you should never dig there alone... when I've done 99.5+% of my digging there unaccompanied. It's a lot more work, but I usually dig out the overhang if it seems unstable at all. In the winter it's not so bad.

I'll definitely check out those spots when I'm in Chicago next. I'll do some research and hope they're still accessible!

As for where to store them, I imagine I'll be selling the majority as I travel, connecting with local collectors and shops as I go. What I care about most are Peoria bottles. Everything else, so far, isn't that hard to part with. But I haven't broken the 1880's/90's yet. Once I get into some pontiled stuff it might be a different story. I could see myself renting a storage unit at some point. I don't know if I would ever do a physical storefront, but I'd be open to the idea someday. I will probably invest in a portable wifi booster or a cell phone plan with a good hotspot deal. Satellite internet should be more accessible and cheaper by next year, too.
 
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historic-antiques

Well-Known Member
Nov 22, 2017
58
8
Wow!! Thank you for all of this info, it's very appreciated! I will definitely report my finds on this forum regularly. :D

I try not to tunnel too much, I'm paranoid about that from digging in Peoria where the soil is very sandy and prone to cave ins. Imagine my surprise watching a Digger Dave Beeler video wherein he cautions people about digging in Peoria, how it's not worth killing yourself for bottles, and you should never dig there alone... when I've done 99.5+% of my digging there unaccompanied. It's a lot more work, but I usually dig out the overhang if it seems unstable at all. In the winter it's not so bad.

I'll definitely check out those spots when I'm in Chicago next. I'll do some research and hope they're still accessible!

As for where to store them, I imagine I'll be selling the majority as I travel, connecting with local collectors and shops as I go. What I care about most are Peoria bottles. Everything else, so far, isn't that hard to part with. But I haven't broken the 1880's/90's yet. Once I get into some pontiled stuff it might be a different story. I could see myself renting a storage unit at some point. I don't know if I would ever do a physical storefront, but I'd be open to the idea someday. I will probably invest in a portable wifi booster or a cell phone plan with a good hotspot deal. Satellite internet should be more accessible and cheaper by next year, too.
If you're near an urban area, or even a smaller town that has a McDonald's or Taco Bell, or even a small college, you will probably be able to use their WiFi .

Yes, exactly, dig out the overhangs as you dig a cave. I did that too, and I often found some nice things in these overhangs!

I don't remember any Peoria bottles, but sellable bottles? You would get plenty at this dump. I've found some bottles worth $200-$400 - not incredible, but a lot more than what they were worth in the 1970s.

About 12 years ago I sold about 300 of my most common bottles for about $800 to somebody who wanted to sell on Craigslist. Stupid me, afterwards I realized I sold my miniature whiskies, they were hidden in a box with a bunch of other things!

I never found a whole pontiled bottle, maybe one graphite pontiled bottle (I'm not an expert on pontils). Thus, I think most bottles in this dump date from around 1870-1900.

I've found 3-molded bottles, turn mold bottles, lots of cobalt-blue hand-made Bromo Seltzers, milk bottles, crown-top (but applied) beers, drugstore bottles, some large whiskies, 6 or so jugs, a small Macomb IL. jug, Indian pennies, a white figural binocular candy bottle, a Teddy's Pet mini "baby's bottle" (Theodore Roosevelt's campaign - around 1902), hutch sodas, early Pabst and Schlitz beers, large cobalt blue Lactopeptine medicine, Dr. Hoofland's, Pond's, etc. A really neat place to search!!!

If you have any questions or need advice, just let me know!
 

Drift

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2018
126
28
Peoria, IL
If you're near an urban area, or even a smaller town that has a McDonald's or Taco Bell, or even a small college, you will probably be able to use their WiFi .

Yes, exactly, dig out the overhangs as you dig a cave. I did that too, and I often found some nice things in these overhangs!

I don't remember any Peoria bottles, but sellable bottles? You would get plenty at this dump. I've found some bottles worth $200-$400 - not incredible, but a lot more than what they were worth in the 1970s.

About 12 years ago I sold about 300 of my most common bottles for about $800 to somebody who wanted to sell on Craigslist. Stupid me, afterwards I realized I sold my miniature whiskies, they were hidden in a box with a bunch of other things!

I never found a whole pontiled bottle, maybe one graphite pontiled bottle (I'm not an expert on pontils). Thus, I think most bottles in this dump date from around 1870-1900.

I've found 3-molded bottles, turn mold bottles, lots of cobalt-blue hand-made Bromo Seltzers, milk bottles, crown-top (but applied) beers, drugstore bottles, some large whiskies, 6 or so jugs, a small Macomb IL. jug, Indian pennies, a white figural binocular candy bottle, a Teddy's Pet mini "baby's bottle" (Theodore Roosevelt's campaign - around 1902), hutch sodas, early Pabst and Schlitz beers, large cobalt blue Lactopeptine medicine, Dr. Hoofland's, Pond's, etc. A really neat place to search!!!

If you have any questions or need advice, just let me know!
Those all sound like awesome finds! Lots of great pottery/crocks/jugs came out of Illinois, even just between Macomb, Monmouth, and Peoria. I find pieces from there all the time. Still wishing for my first whole one.

Are you familiar with a Sargent's Drug Store bottle from Chicago? I found one in clear on Sunday that I can only find in amber online. I was actually digging with a guy I sold that penguins bottle to. It was a favorite of mine, but I'm always happy giving a bottle a good home knowing I can't possibly keep them all. I posted a few pics of the Sargent's here:

A couple years ago, I eyeballed an Indian Head penny on top of a recent burnpile where some antique furniture met it's fate. At least that got saved. I'm working on building a sifter so I can catch all the marbles, coins, tokens, and buttons I'm sure I'm leaving behind.

My only miniature whiskey is an Old Quaker. Machine made, but it made the cut when I was culling my collection down from a few hundred last month to less than ten today.
 

historic-antiques

Well-Known Member
Nov 22, 2017
58
8
Yes, the name Sargent's sounds familiar, but I'm not sure. And yes, glass bottles aren't the only valuable containers - we've got lots of fine pottery jugs and bottles out there!

Oh, you already sold that penguin bottle! I didn't think it would take long! On hutch sodas, I've seen elephants, bears, horses, embossed on them (found in the Riverview dump) but NEVER a penguin! That's very nice of you to find a good home for your bottles!

I had around 6-7 mini whiskies, maybe 2-3 had embossing on them. They looked neat! It was my mistake to sell them. Yes, the smart thing to do - make a sifter. Never thought of that! But you have to choose how much time you expend on sifting, how much on digging bottles, and if it's worth the time to sift. Hopefully, the dirt will quickly and freely go through the mesh! The coins I found were not in very good condition at all. Not worth really keeping. But, marbles, buttons (found both) and tokens are and may be better preserved. I also found old bone toothbrushes, a bronze or copper belt buckle, shoes (rotted), old spectacles, etc.
 

Drift

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2018
126
28
Peoria, IL
I stuck them in a half gallon Ball Mason jar with some animal teeth I found and a doll arm I dug. Gonna try selling it as a decorative art piece to some local horror and oddity fans/weirdos. :eek:
 

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Drift

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2018
126
28
Peoria, IL
Here's some Peoria brokes I need to find whole examples of. I should also find the strength to pitch these.

The only one I don't know is the C.C. Peoria bottle. I think I found a slick hutch once with just C.C. on the bottom.
 

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Drift

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2018
126
28
Peoria, IL
Here's a Derges Independent Bottling Works bottle. The Derges, I discovered recently while walking through a cemetery, are buried less than a mile from me. Multiple generations were bottlers. I plan to respectfully visit their graves and photograph their bottles next to their markers. I plan to do the same with the Leisy Brothers and other bottlers at rest in the same cemetery in this very rich city for history. Perhaps I could even talk them into letting me guide one of their walking tours!
 

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