Glassy-eyed as bottle show nears

March 02, 1996|By James H. Bready | James H. Bready,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In his old fieldstone building in Port Deposit, Roger Poffenbarger is surrounded by cans, jars, bottles, boxes, crates and barrels -- the haul from 35 years as collector and dealer. But no matter how crammed the shops' shelves get, he's always on the prowl for more.

"What've you got that might fit in with my stuff here?" he asks a visitor, grinning. "You don't have to have horses to be a trader."

Tomorrow, Mr. Poffenbarger will be wheeling and dealing at the annual show and sale of the Baltimore Antique Bottle Club at Essex Community College. He'll leave a table of tagged wares in the keeping of his wife, Aletta, and son, John, while he wanders around the show, checking out the tables of 299 other dealers.

Mr. Poffenbarger's specialty in bottle-collecting is colored medicines, from the 1880s or so, that are pontil-marked, or scarred on the bottom during the glass-making process. His store displays several dozen. He's dug for them in the former xTC Perryville town dump -- a site since obliterated by bridge builders. He also attends country auctions.

He sells his wares in a building that was known as Cummings' Tavern when, in 1781, the French general J. B. D. Rochambeau stopped by, on his way to Yorktown, Va. Later the two-story building was a stagecoach stop.

"No telling how old this building is," Mr. Poffenbarger remarks, "when the British burned Elkton, in the War of 1812, the county's records went up in smoke."

This year's bottle show will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Essex Community College's Physical Education Center.

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