This section of the website is constantly under construction and update. It contains the personal biography of Rod Comer with his own experiences in the antique bottle collecting field.

In the Beginning

I started my interest in bottle collecting almost inadvertantly whilst on a business trip to Port Elizabeth during 1979.

A lady friend suggested some scones & strawberry jam at a little tea-garden at Schoenmakerskop and on the way back we passed some members of the coloured community selling bottles next to the road.

I bought, for their aesthetic appeal only, approximately 30 extremely sick, mainly aqua bottles, including a few castor oil, plain ointment pots and a Breidenbach Tooth Paste Lid which is still in my collection. (He wanted R5, we settled on R3) all for just under R40.

The bottles were distributed throughout my house at Hartbeespoort, admired only for their decorative appeal and pretty much forgotten. Little did I realise that, much like Pandora's Box, these pretty little relics of bygone days were soon to have a decided effect on my life.

 

Breidenbach & Co.

My first pot-lid

My first dig
 

In the January 1983 edition of South African Garden & Home I came across an article entitled "Treasures From The Ashes" which told of a Pretoria couple, Piet and Ria Cronjés hobby of digging and collecting antique bottles.

Their friendliness, enthusiasm and willingness to share their knowledge & love of the hobby led not only to my first dig (at the "Army" dump between Laudium and Voortrekkerhoogte) in March 1983 but also a life-time friendship and a nearly 20 year obsession with digging and collecting antique bottles.

On the left is an early receipt from the Kimberly Municipality. R 10 for 3 days digging.

My first pot-lid

A solid brass penholder Circa 1895

 

Great was my excitement and anticipation at being invited to join Piet & Ria for a dig (their second time) in Kimberley over the long week-end of 8 - 11th October 1983. On this visit (accompanied by Basie & Lente Language) we stayed in a small caravan park next to the Mosque in the Transvaal Road on the outskirts of town.

Imagine our surprise, many years later to learn that we were quite literally right on top of a very rich dump which yielded several perfect specimens of N.O. Ruffel Flasks, a large variety of unique potlids and some very unusual embossed Blues.

The first Kimberley dig at the Kamfersdam site yielded a host of really good bottles as well as some interesting artifacts and some even more interesting people!

If my memory serves me correctly ( and it was a long time ago ) the following local Kimberley people where digging at that time:

If my memory serves me correctly ( and it was a long time ago ) the following local Kimberley people where digging at that time:

   
Andries Meyer  
Clifford Le Riche  
Peter Greef We will eventually find out what has happened to these "digging pioneers".
Tom Lotter
Trevor Dally  
Vincent Rodericks  
Wouter Pypers  

Other diggers visiting the Kamfersdam site on a regular basis were:

Henk Beniers  
Henk Cloete  
Rod Comer  
Piet and Ria Cronje
.Pierre Kriegler  
Al and Ethleen Lastovica We will follow up on these old diggers
Roelf and Rene Laubscher  
Ed Roode  
Tony Siebert  
Joe & Sean De Villiers  
Forest Hill

A brief chat with Pierre Kriegler on the Kimberley Dump, combined with a few clues inadvertantly given, led to my discovering "Forest Hill".

This dump is the "home" of Home & Colonial ginger beer bottles, amazing potlids, incredible blue bottles and many, many more wonderful finds.

The only 3 recorded examples of the United States Mineral Water Works Ginger Beers (no. 452) were all taken from Forest Hill as well as the only 2 shards of Marathon Mineral Waters, the first of which was co-incidentally dug on Comrades Day (Youth Day) 16 June 1993.

A young SA Police Constable called Pierre van der Merve had been digging, with his parents at Forest Hill for about 2 months before I arrived and what an incredible experience it must have been. Of all the dumps I have ever dug, this dump has by far, the largest selection of ginger-beers with more than 30 varieties recorded.

Joe de Necker (still active in the antiques field), Louis & André Nel (likewise), Basie Nel (no relation of Louis), Piet Cronjé, Johnny Taljaard, Louis Findlay and a friend (Hartley?) of his were all active on this dump at the same time.

Later arrivals were Albert van Rensburg, Tony Siebert, Bobby Wales (Deceased), Mike Conradie, Iain Steuart (emigrated), Nick Welman and one or two infrequent visitors from Boksburg.

Boksburg is the lead-in to the next dump, next time..

Rod Comer can be contacted at rodcomer@antiquebottles.co.za

 

A rare Cobalt Blue embossed SA Chemists Bottle

Only known example dug at Forest Hill 3 April 1994