Cash and Treasures: The antique bottle dig

Cash and Treasures, as mentioned in a previous post, is a Travel Channel show that features kid friendly places. Host Kirsten Gum, an engaging sort, heads to where you can dig up treasure with or without kids.

Episode: Digging for antique bottles

What are they? Antique bottles. As in bottles. As in antiques. As in old.

Location: Gum headed to the Sacramento Valley in California, however, you can dig for antique bottles anywhere people lived years and years ago. You have to promise not to go all shovel happy, though. There are rules involved for where and how you go rooting around.

The Sacramento Valley offers promise for good digs because of the influx of people who settled here after gold was discovered in 1848. To find bottles, you have to find an outhouse. People used to throw out their trash down the holes. These days, the holes are often buried, and in this case, under a parking lot outside a store.

Gum asked the owner if she, along with Lou Lampert an antique bottle expert, could dig through the asphalt if they put it back the way they found it. This was more than a day process. By the time they were done, they were 12-feet down. The dig, hat involved specialized tools and a backhoe, was worth the trouble. The uncovered treasure included a still full champagne bottle, an embossed cobalt blue bottle (Gum’s favorite), an ale bottle, and a late Civil War era gin bottle–all dating between 1860 and 1880.

Antique bottle digging probably won’t make you a fortune, but it’s fascinating. As Lampert and Gum pointed out, you can learn a lot from people’s trash. For example, one bottle once contained Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup for teething babies.

To find places to dig, look at old parcel maps that can be found at libraries, museums, historical societies and on-line. Once you locate a place to dig, make sure you ask for permission, and be careful. The full champagne bottle broke which Lampert said may have been caused by the change in air temperature when the bottle was brought from the hole to the surface.

For more tips on digging for bottles, check out Gum’s blog. The backhoe was to speed things up. You could do a dig without one, I think.

Michael Palin’s travel series “The New Europe” starts Monday

This coming Monday Michael Palin’s new seven-show travel series, “The New Europe” starts on The Travel Channel. He’s taking the TV audience through “post communist” Europe to highlight the natural beauty, history and culture of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Hungary, and Bosnia among several others in Eastern and Central Europe (20 in all), many that were behind the Iron Curtain when he was growing up in Great Britain.

There’s an interview with Palin at World Hum about the series. David Farley’s questions brought out an intriguing look into what thoughts go into a travel series in the first place–including the name of it.

“The New Europe” stuck for this series title, even though it’s a term coined by Donald Rumsfeld, of all people. I wonder if Donald Rumsfeld has a travel series in his future.? Or if people are looking for a catchy title they could call him up for his wordsmith magic.” To be clear, the name of the series and the fact that Donald Rumsfeld called this part of the world “the new Europe” while he was U.S. Secretary of Defense is purely coincidental. They have nothing to do with each other, but in the interview with Palin, Farley included the show’s reaction to the sameness and the decision to keep the name anyway.

When deciding what to include and what not to include in an episode, the balance between what will make for an interesting show and what the country’s reaction to its portrayal are taken into consideration. For example, the idea is to show the scope of the region so countries are not necessarily highlighted for the same reason. In summary, people from one country may look at the depiction of another country as having gorgeous scenery, but not that aspect of the their own and feel slighted. It’s heck to be an editor. Someone is bound to feel slighted.

In the Farley’s interview Palin also muses about the difference between Americans’ and Europeans’ ideas about travel and what draws him around the world. The series that airs at 8 p.m. looks like one that won’t disappoint– and I certainly recommend the interview.