The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of November 21 to November 28, 2019


Soda Fountain Memorabilia

Antique soda fountain dispensers
Soda fountain dispensers

Soda fountains were once a fixture in drugstores. Now it’s rare to find one. Hallet’s Store in Yarmouth Port, MA and Shady Glen in Manchester, CT are two establishments in our area that still have soda fountains. Many people that visited them have fond memories of soda fountains and the memorabilia still appeals to collectors.

There was a long history before soda began being served at fountains in the 20th century. A 1962 American Heritage article notes that water had been “bubbling up out of springs and spas since the dawn of history.” Joseph Priestley developed a process for artificially carbonating water according to a University of Southern California article. According to a McGill University article, he lived near a brewery and became interested in the “airs” (gas bubbles) that produced bubbles in beer. In 1767 he hung a vessel over a beer fermentation vat creating carbonated water. Much later in 1832 John Matthews left England for America where he manufactured carbonating machinery and started selling soda water to retailers. Matthews added flavors to the soda water and licensed soda water equipment. The USC article notes that “by the time he died, Matthews owned over 500 soda fountains. He was known as the ‘Soda Fountain King.’” Our area also played a part in the development of soda fountains. A Lowell Sun article notes that Gustavus D. Dows patented the first marble soda fountain in 1861. He installed a marble soda fountain in a Central Street pharmacy in Lowell. Ice cream later became a top seller at soda fountains. lists the heyday of soda fountains as running from 1890 to 1940. They describe “classic American soda fountain(s)” as light, cool, and airy places furnished with marble-topped counters and tables, shining mirrors, and sparkling glass and chrome serving dishes.

Soda fountains used advertising signs to advertise their specials. National companies also advertised their brands on signs, syrup and soda dispensers, trays, clocks, glasses and anywhere else they could. These items that were given to the soda fountain to promote manufacturers can be very valuable now.

A 12-piece Three Millers soda fountain sign sold for $2,600 at auction last year. A Moxie soda fountain sign went for $2,750 in a 2015 auction. A 1902 celluloid Coca Cola sign fetched $8,000 at a 2012 auction. At a 2016 auction, a rare Allens Red Tame Cherry tin embossed sign reached $10,250.

Dispensers can also bring strong results. A Coca Cola porcelain brought $10,000 in a 2018 auction. A Jim Dandy Orangeade dispenser went for $28,000 in 2010. An Earl Hires 3-piece dispensing bowl with platter sold at auction in 2015. It was made by Mettlach who also made quality German steins. Despite having some restoration, it went for $74,000.

A complete marble and alabaster soda fountain that was over 21 feet long was auctioned in 2012. It was created by the Liquid Carbonic Co. for the 1893 Columbian Exposition. It bubbled well over the top of the $75,000 - $125,000 estimate when it reached $4,475,000.

We have our next major auction on January 30th in Worcester. We will be offering a Cherry Smash and a Ward’s Orange Crush syrup dispenser. Other events are being scheduled. Please see for details on these and other events.

Contact us at: Wayne Tuiskula Auctioneer/Appraiser Central Mass Auctions for Antique Auctions, Estate Sales and Appraisal Services (508-612- 6111)


Now’s the Time to Force a Few Spring Flowering Bulbs

Forced bulbs in flower
photo credit: Melinda Myers, LLC

In just fifteen minutes you can plant a beautiful garden guaranteed to brighten your spirits and indoor décor this winter. All you need is a container with drainage holes, potting mix and some tulips, daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs. Once you have gathered the needed materials, you can get started planting.

Select bulbs labeled for forcing, shorter varieties that are less likely to flop or bulbs that didn’t make it into the garden this fall. Plant a container of one type of bulb or use a combination for added color, texture, form and a longer bloom time. Tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths are most common, but you may want to add another layer of color with shorter bulbs like crocus, squills, and grape hyacinths.

Select a container with drainage holes and cover the bottom with an inch or two of well-drained potting mix. Set the bulbs on the potting mix with the pointed side, if it has one, up and root side down. Place the flat side of the tulip bulb toward the outside of the pot for a better display. Pack the container full of bulbs for an impressive display. Cover the bulbs with soil and water thoroughly.

Or create a garden of spring flowers in a pot using a variety of large and small bulbs. Place the largest bulbs on the lowest level of a large container. Cover with soil and add the medium sized bulbs. Cover these and add the smallest bulbs. Then cover with several inches of potting mix and water thoroughly.

Move potted bulbs to a cold location with temperatures between 35 and 45 degrees for 15 weeks to initiate flowering. This is often the most challenging part of the process. Place the potted bulbs in a spare refrigerator where you do not store fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene that can interfere with flowering. Otherwise, sink the pot in the ground, or set it in an unheated garage away from the door with a bit of insulation around the pot. Water thoroughly whenever the soil is dry.

Start removing the pots from cold storage after fifteen weeks of chilling. Extend your enjoyment by removing the pots at one- or two-week intervals.

Move the chilled container of bulbs to a cool location with indirect light for two weeks. Water thoroughly and often enough to keep the soil moist. Move them to a bright sunny window when the leaves are about four to six inches tall. Bright sunlight and temperatures around 65 degrees Fahrenheit will give you the best results. You’ll be enjoying flowers in about three to four weeks after removing them from storage.

Use pots of forced bulbs as centerpieces or flowering accents indoors. Save a few to use outdoors on your balcony, deck or front steps for added color in your spring landscape. Dress up your display by placing the pots in window boxes or planters and cover with mulch or moss.

Planting and forcing bulbs will help keep you gardening as the days grow shorter and colder. And when you’ve had just about all the winter you can stand, it will be time to break out the forced bulbs for a bit of spring color.

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses How to Grow Anything DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio segments. Myers’ website,, features gardening videos, podcasts, audio tips and monthly gardening checklists.