Wednesday, January 4, 2023

The “Not Really a Bottle” Collector

Johanna Guderjahn stood beside what was obviously a bottle collection and said, “This is not really a bottle collection.” The Oshkosh Northwestern discovered this extraordinary woman in Waukau in 1955. And in December of that year the paper published a brief article about her and her fascination with unusual bottles.

Johanna Guderjahn with her bottles, Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, December 28, 1955.

Johanna began collecting bottles in 1945 after she and her husband, Emil, found a pair of “ancient stoneware bottles” while digging the basement for their Waukau home. Emil did not encourage Johanna’s passion for bottles. He said the last thing she needed was another collection. She persisted nonetheless. 

Her non-collection grew to include an array of obscure relics; not the least of which was “a cache of beer bottles bearing labels that were practically a roster of old-time Oshkosh breweries – all valuable as history and all a variety of shapes.” Unfortunately, it all seems to have been lost. Johanna Guderjahn died in Omro in 1996. She was 95 years old. And by then, her “not really a bottle collection” was just a dim, distant memory.

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