Home Philadelphia Press Releases 2013 Rare Glass Bottle Returned to Wistar Institute

Rare Glass Bottle Returned to Wistar Institute

U.S. Attorney’s Office May 06, 2013
  • District of Delaware (302) 573-6277

WILMINGTON, DE—Charles M. Oberly, III, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, and Edward J. Hanko, Special Agent in Charge, Philadelphia Field Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced today the return of a rare glass bottle to the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The bottle was made at the first successful glass factory in the American Colonies, established by Caspar Wistar near Alloway, New Jersey, in 1739. The bottle bears the initials of Richard Wistar, the eldest son of Caspar Wistar. It is one of only two known existing Caspar Wistar bottles with the “RW” seal. Caspar Wistar’s bottles were made of impure green glass using a formula in use since the Middle Ages. Wistar’s bottles were designed to resemble popular European bottles of the day.

The bottle was granted to the Wistar Institute by General Isaac J. Wistar, great nephew of Caspar Wistar, in 1905. The bottle was taken from the Wistar collection without permission after 1958. Thereafter, the bottle was purchased and sold on several occasions, without actual knowledge that it was stolen. In 2011, the bottle was discovered in a museum exhibit, on loan from its purported owner. The purported owner ultimately agreed to its return to the Wistar Institute. The Caspar Wistar bottle is pictured below.

United States Attorney Charles M. Oberly, III said, “The return of this rare bottle to the Wistar Institute is the result of the joint efforts of this office and the FBI Art Crime Team. I commend all parties for their efforts in producing this positive outcome. Artifacts like this glass bottle are an important part of American history. Unfortunately, this bottle was stolen and entered the stream of commerce. I am pleased it can be returned to its rightful owner.”

This matter was investigated by David L. Hall, Assistant United States Attorney, Special Prosecutor, FBI Art Crime Team. For further information Assistant United States Attorney David L. Hall at (302) 573-6277.

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