After immersing myself in the Star Trek prop reproduction community over at The Fleet Workshop for the past month or so, I finally took the plunge the other day to start doing my first Star Trek prop reproduction.
While I do not intend to go whole-hog in prop reproduction and build or mamas a large collection, I will most likely do a few props here and there which fit with my tastes in interesting design and/or hold a special fondness in my love of Star Trek.
To that end, I had always thought the Saurian brandy bottle used in several Star Trek episodes of the original series (TOS) was a funky and cool prop and would be an interesting (and possibly even functional) prop to reproduce.
So picked up a light amber glass 1/4 Gallon “Powderhorn” Whiskey Bottle off of eBay (it was only $11 + shipping) which arrived over the weekend.
This type of bottle—referred to by George Dickel Distillery in Tullahoma, Tennessee, company that made them—as their “powderhorn” decanter and were originally commemorative whiskey bottles released in 1964. According to their website they came in several different sizes from mini’s to 1 gallon and came in different colored glass and packages.
The light amber glass 1/4 gallon version was what was used in by the Star Trek production in numerous TOS episodes.
It was seen most visibly and memorably in the TOS episode “The Enemy Within” when an aggressive transporter duplicate of Captain Kirk demanded a whole bottle of Saurian brandy.
The same bottle(s) were later used in several Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes as well.
There will be two major challenges in not just modifying the bottle to match the screen used prop, but also repairing a couple things are damaged with this one I bought.
The first and most challenging issue is that the bottom buckle of the carrying strap had be torn loose ages ago, and the leather overall has seen better days.
I knew going in that the lower buckle attachment would have to be repaired, which I suspect is why the price was so low for one of the sought after amber glass versions of the bottle. I have seen a couple of really good condition ones (the light amber 1 gallon ones) go for upwards of a couple $100 dollars on eBay in the past.
The second issue is that when it arrived and I tried to remove the stopper, the original cork snapped in half with the lower part firmly stuck inside.
I was able to retrieve it with some work, though it had crumbled at the break point and about 1/8″ is in multiple fragments at the break point.
So the cork in the stopper will need replacing.
The cork replacement I am not too plussed about, but I am not 100% how best to tackle the torn out leather attach point for the lower buckle. I am contemplating trying to source a local custom leather shop here in Portland, Oregon to see what type of options there are to replace/repair it.
I may end up simply sourcing a cheap and easy to find “dark amber” glass “powderhorn” bottle and swap the leather parts from it onto the light amber glass one.
But we will see.
My long term goal for this is to get the leather strap attachment repaired, the buckles cleaned up (they have some corrosion on them) and have the leather painted the Macao Orange color paint that the folks over at The Fleet Workshop ran down as perfect match to the original paint used by Desilu Productions back in 1966 for the screen-used prop.
The other modification, which was made to the bottle for use as the original prop that was done back in 1966, was adding a faux leather strap on the side of the bottle to cover up the embossing in the glass bottle from the distiller.
Somehow I don’t think George Dickel Distillery in 1964, or even now, has a way to transport their distillery or their bottling operation to the Psi Serpentis star system, the location of the Saurian home world.
So the propmaster on the show simply covered up the embossing with either an additional fabricated leather strap, or more likely (and what the consensus over at The Fleet Workshop is) simply covered it up with gaffer tape painted with the same Macao Orange paint.
Some have even speculated that all the leather was wrapped or covered up with gaffers tape which actually comes in an orange color as well. Though to my eyes (and most others) the orange is not quite the same as the standard orange colored gaffer tape comes in.
My intention is to find some leather of the correct width and either attached it directly to the bottle, or somehow attach it to the existing lower cradle and upper leather collar so that it doesn’t look like painted tape, which it would be if I went that easier and cheaper route.
The final thing intend to do down the road is to actually bottle some bandy in this and use it as it was shown doing on the show.
I actually found a mixologist recipe for a “Saurian brandy” that the folks over at Epicurus.com came up with as an homage to the famous interstellar beverage.