Thursday, December 31, 2009

The First Embossed Hostetter's ??

While doing some online research I ran across this advertisement in the October 1856 Sacramento Daily Union from David Hostetter. David claims to be the attorney for Dr. S Hostetter and has appointed Park & White of San Francisco sole and exclusive agents for the state of California and Oregon for the sale of Dr. J. Hostetter's Stomach Bitters.

David also states in this ad that "it is never sold by the gallon anywhere, but in square bottles containing a full quart, with the cork covered with a metallic cap, and name on the cap and bottle, with the directions for use"

Could this be the 1850 -60s' 31 ounce large size bottle that we dig here in the west? Is this the first embossed Hostetter's that was shipped around the horn and into San Francisco? Even though the ad does not state that the name Hostetter's is blown in the glass, I'm leaning toward this being the advertisement for the first embossed Hostetter's. What say you diggers & collectors?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Western Bitters Search Engine

I know a lot of the folks that visit the Bitters and Whiskey Blog are looking for information on bottles but don't have the time to scroll through all the posts on these sites. If you take a look to the right of this post you will notice an area called "Search This Blog". This powerful tool can get you to what you are looking for in not only the bitters blog but also in all of our favorite links.
For example: If you are looking for information on say, "Lacour's Bitters" type it into the search box and the results will be displayed at the top of the page.
Above the results you will also see three headings...... This Blog..........Linked From Here......... Our Favorite Links................ click on any of these headings to see the results of your search.
So... if your looking for a certain post or a special subject... go ahead try the search engine, you'll be surprised how fast you can locate what your looking for.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Western Old Sachem?

Earlier this year an older post titled
"WHAT REALLY IS WESTERN" received several interesting comments on what collectors considered "Western". A highly regarded collector and digger from Sacramento related "If a bottle was blown in the East for a product that was exclusively marketed in the Far West, then the bottle must be considered Western".
I was thinking this statement made a lot of sense and started re-counting my newly discovered "WESTERN" bitters bottles when another highly regarded collector from Oregon commented "I thought I would throw in my 2 cents worth. I believe a bottle is "Western" if it is embossed in the glass with a Western company or town. It may be that a bottle was manufactured in the East, and distributed exclusively in the West (Catawba, Bryant's), but these are just cool Western distributed, or Western found bottles".
Well, another re-count using my amigo from Oregon's theory not only dwindled my western bitters inventory considerably but created a new sub-category for my collection: "Cool Western distributed, or found bottles."
Alright! now were talking... That Old Sachem Bitters and Wigwam Tonic I found up Jim Crow Creek defiantly fits into the category "Cool Western distributed, or found bottles" And, how about the Russ's Aromatic Schnapps that my deer hunting buddy kicked out of the brush a while back... not a bitters but it sure goes on the "Cool Western distributed, or found bottle" shelf right next to the Old Sachem.
The Drakes Plantation that was dug here in Downieville doesn't fit in the "blown in the East for a product that was exclusively marketed in the Far West" but sure could be placed on the " Cool Western distributed, or found" bottle shelf.
Now things were falling into place and I was re-arraigning my shelf's when up pops another comment from someone I didn't know from their blog handle "Andy" but made a lot of sense to me "Western Huh??Any bottle embossed with a western concern (Rockie Mountains to Hawaii) Make it the middle of the Rockies west, to be fair. The best of them would be made and centered about the three coastal western states and Hawaii"
Oh my goodness! that Gun Wa's Chinese Remedy square is a Denver bottle and Denver is just a tad east of the Rocky Mountains. Darn the Gun Wa's is Eastern!
Wait a minute.... if that Denver bottle was blown in a western glass house and distributed east of the Rocky Mountains we have a whole new category if we subscribe to to our Sacramento collectors theory: If a bottle was blown in the West for a product that was exclusively marketed in the east, then the bottle must be considered Eastern.
Whoa........ get me off this Merry-Go-Round

More on Dr. Mott's Wild Cherry Tonic

Here's an advertisement from the March 10, 1879 Sacramento Union for the firm of Powers & Henderson. This pretty much confirms Old Cutters timeline for the business relationship of Powers & Henderson.

The Mott's Wild Cherry Tonic embossed bottle was manufactured well after this 1879 advertisement when the firms name was changed to A.H. Powers & Co.
If you are looking for an applied top example of the A.H. Powers Dr. Mott's - I have a duplicate available for sale or trade. rs

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Will the Real DR. MOTT Stand Up!

This principally Western distributed Wild Cherry Tonic was named for Dr. Valentine Mott of New York City, a famous physician and surgeon that practiced medicine from the 1830's through the 1860's.

Mott invented several "open secret" formula's and remedies that he left for anyone to use and sometime in the late 1870's A.H. Powers, a Sacramento California liquor merchant, introduced the Dr. Mott's Wild Cherry Tonic in an embossed sixth size square bottle . The bottle was embossed DR. MOTT'S WILD CHERRY TONIC A.H.POWERS & CO.
Powers only pushed the Mott's tonic for possibly a couple of years and sold the rights to the product to the Spruance Stanley Company.
Spruance Stanley continued to use the Powers bottle with the A.H. Powers slugged out of the glass and replaced with SPRUANCE STANLEY & CO.

Both the Power's and Spruance Stanley examples come with an applied top and the characteristic 2 rivet marks (or dots) on the lower portion of the panel to the right of the embossing. (pictured at left) The Louis Taussig product bottle also comes with the rivet marks in the same place on the same panel suggesting it quite possibly was blown in the same mold.

The Powers and Spruance Stanley examples of the Wild Cherry Tonic are considered "rare" but the Spruance Stanley bottle seemed to be the more difficult of the two examples to put in my collection. If you are looking for a nice pairing of western square sixth's the Powers and Spruance are a fine addition to a western collection.

The A.H. Powers bottle

The Spruance Stanley example

An advertisement for the pioneer liquor house of Wilcox & Powers listing them as sole agents for Dr. Mott's Wild Cherry Tonic

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Mills letter

Letter dated 1878

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Thank you all for your support, and encouragement this past year.

Miller's Extra

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mills' Bitters

Another very scarce western bitters product is the Mills' Bitters / A. M. Gilman / Sole Proprietor [ladys leg fifth size] bottle. If this is a western manufactured bottle it would most likely be a product of the San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works.

The only advertisement I've ever found for this product came from a August 14th, 1878 advertisement in the San Francisco Alta California paper, which ran for about a month, see above.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The bitters market was quite competitive, the papers were full of advertisements for such products as Rosenbaum's, Renz's, Henley's, Cassin's & Lacour's bitters; yet when the collectors are avidly seeking examples of these bottles through various means, few seem to be found with any real regularity. With thousands of examples being distributed through drugstores, saloons, wholesale & retail liquor merchants; why hasn't more examples been unearthed?

A reason might be a crowded market for these products. Although most collectors covet the embossed in glass named bitters containers made during the 1860's & '70's period there were in fact many other bitters products competiting for a share of this market. In fact the above three bitters advertisements were quite prevalent among the major newspapers of the late '60's and '70's and probably accounted for a great deal of sales. Many of these containers were and are being dug by collectors without knowing it, since these products were put up in labeled only bottles for much of their sales period.

The exact number of western marketed bitters products are not known at present, there are approximately 100 variations of embossed in glass bitters containers, with another 58 or so known in paper labeled form only. In my research to write a more precise, accurate and comprehensive story on some of these bitters; I've also uncovered some new never before listed bitters marketed in California, such as Manzanita Bitters, Democratic Bitters & California Buck Bitters.

So when your digging and you unearth a round or a square unembossed fifth or sixth size bottle, you may indeed have dug yourself a bitters!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More on the Orizaba Bitters

One of the two known Orizaba Bitters.
I believe this example was sold to a Texas collector earlier this year.
Sure is a beauty!
Now let's work this out; 210 cases equals 2,520 bottles @ $9,000 a piece equals $22,680,000. I could live with that!

210 cases of Orizaba Bitters

After spending much of my time researching the glassworks for an upcoming book, I wanted to turn my focus on possibly finding some information on some of the more obscure Western Bitters.

Since there seems to be only 2 intact examples of the ORIZABA BITTERS, I thought our followers would enjoy this advertisement from the Jones & Co auctioneers who on August 19th, 1875 is going to sell a lot of these bitters!

No known advertisements for this product have been found to my knowledge, but this does narrow the date of the bottles to approximately 1875. This time frame puts this bottle as possibly being a product of SFGW or PGW. At the time of this auction the Pacific Glass Works was just purchased by Carlton Newman, owner of SFGW. (click on illustration to enlarge).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Unsolved Mystery of the None Genuine Bottle...

So far the evidence is quite minimal and speculative as to what type of product these containers held...Was it a bitters of some sort? We may never know. Due to the shapes (two variations) these come in, it does not seem to fit in with the typical bitters mold types.

I'm most inclined to lean towards a sarsaparilla, cordial, tonic, or some sort of cure/medicine. Nonetheless, these rare bottles do seem to be found throughout the West and no reports thus far from the East-side. Pictured below are the two distinct shapes of the examples that I have been able to find. The one on the left is of similar shape to a Hood's Sarsaparilla and is smaller and shorter than it's counterpart on the right. The rounded-shoulder example bears a similar resemblance in shape to a Warner's Safe Cure.

Resemblance to a Warner's Safe Cure mold:

From what I've been able to account for, here are the number of currently "known" examples:

J.F. CUTTER EXTRA: 1 Rectangular in Honey-Amber (Mint), 1 Rounded-Shoulder in Honey-Amber (Large Crack on back). Locality: (Los Angeles, Montana Mining Camp).
Dr. Barnes: 1 Rectangular in Amber. Locality: (Ebay).
RTSIRI: 1 Rectangular in Aqua. 1 Rectangular in Amber. Locality: SAC??
OLD CUTTERS: 1 Rectangular in Amber, Any others? Locality: SAC
MILLER'S EXTRA: 1 Rectangular in Amber? Locality: OR?
R. Littlefield: Had a rectangular amber example up for sale for awhile...Locality: WA or OR??

Rarity (in any Condition): 7+ Rectangular-shaped examples; 1-3 Rounded-Shoulder Examlpes

Overall Locality/Distribution: Sacramento, Los Angeles, Portland, Montana...

OLD CUTTERS, You seemed to know the most about the different colors and number of examples from the folks I've spoken with. Do you know of any other Mint examples or specimens out there?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Turner's Displayed at Auburn

Here are a few of the Turner's squares displayed at the Auburn Bottle Show.
Take a look at the aqua iron pontil example on the left displayed by Richard Siri.
First one of those I have ever seen!
(Do you think Bill might have added to many zero's to the price tag on his Turner's ?)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Another Great 49er Bottle Show

The 49er Bottle Clubs 32nd annual bottle show and sale kicked off Friday at noon sharp. A big turnout of early lookers, and early buyers, stormed the doors looking for bargains on bottles, insulators and collectibles. The first few hours of the show sales were brisk and dealers kept busy selling items and answering questions about their merchandise. The sales action continued all day Friday and dealers commented on how well items were selling.
( Click on the pictures to enlarge them)

On Saturday morning a Turner's "Shootout" was held with collectors Richard Siri, Bill Ham, Steve Hubbell, Ken Edward and Rick Simi displaying 7 different variants of the Turner Brothers Forest Wine Bitters bottle. Smooth base and iron pontiled examples, including an extremely rare iron pontil aqua variant, were discussed, compared and photographed by several collectors.

In the last few years western bottle shows have been suffering from items being stolen from dealers tables. The ongoing theft problem was addressed very well by the club, announcements about every hour warning dealers to watch their tables and keep track of their sales items were very helpful and reminded dealers that the 49er club was "aware" of the stolen merchandise problem.

I was pleased to get a chance to talk to collectors & dealers from Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wisconsin and Texas and meet a few collectors "face to face" for the first time.

Western bitters that changed hands during the two day event included: a pea green Cundurango, A.H. Powers Dr. Mott's Wild Cherry Tonic in light yellow amber with an applied top, a very crude aqua Cundurango, another Cundurango in a yellow olive, an N.B. Jacob's San Francisco in grass green, a variant 1 Rosenbaums Bitters, an Alex Von Humboldt's Stomach Bitters in light old amber and an Alpine Herb Bitters with an applied top; a tremendous amount of western bitters available for one show. I also noticed 4 different large letter Dr. Renz's Herb Bitters and a large letter Rosenbaums for sale.

The 49er Historical Bottle Association refers to their annual show as "The Best in the West" and in this old collectors opinion have earned the right to call it so. I, personally, would like to thank the staff and members of the 49er Historical Bottle Association for putting on another great bottle show.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Renz Sampler

In answer to a question about the date of this ad I am not sure when it was published but the above ad for Renz's bitters at 219 Commercial street was published in the August 13, 1874 Sacramento Daily Union. It appears that John Renz was at 219 Commercial as early as 1874.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More on Cundurango !

In this October 11th, 1871 advertisement Drs. Bliss & Keene claim that an article is being advertised and sold as Cundurango, and I assume, that according to the doctors is not the genuine article. Could they be refering to ol' George Chesley as the scoundrel that was pushing that spurious article?

Geo. Chesley & Co. started running advertisements for the Cundurango Bitters on November 18th, 1871 in the Sacramento Daily Union. (pictured below) The ad states "None genuine without the word CUNDURANGO blown in the bottle" and documents that the Cundurango bottles were manufactured as early, if not earlier, than the November date.
Oldcutters previous post on the trademarks of the Cundurango bitters document that they were manufacturing the product possibly as early as April of 1863. The trademarking of the Dr. Place's Cundurango Bitters in December of 1871 was defiantly after Chesley was selling the product in embossed bottles.

None Genuine #2, Two, Too

Great Med, I know of 2 others of these, both on the border in Dago, mine and the lighter colored one in the Lance W. collection, all have Great Embossing, Thanks for the background info Richard, I was told when I got mine it was a Western Med., but, I have had no clue as to where it might come from or the background? I guess its time to go on line and check out the Los Angeles Directories. DB

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mystery bottle

OK, it's most likely NOT a Bitters, but does anyone have any information about what this bottle might have contained? The embossed scene on the bottle is reminiscent of the Hostetter's label, showing St George slaying the dragon. In this case it appears to be a snake. It is trade marked, but not in the CA State Archives book of applications. To the best of my knowledge, they are only dug in the West. I have dug amber examples, here locally, and found a aqua specimen at a show.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turner Bros.

I have my Turners Bros .bottles in a box in the truck this time .Won't forget to bring them to Auburn . for a show and tell . RTS

More Cundurango

It may not be common knowledge among collectors that George Chesley actually trademarked his bitters twice. The first was in April of 1863, at which time he used the name "Dr Bliss' Cundurango Bitters. Dr Bliss was the co-discoverer of this medicinal plant, native to the Amazon River drainage, claiming that it possessed "wonderful virtues", touting it as a cure for cancer and other malicious diseases. Chesley got wind of this miracle plant and decided to take full advantage of it's perceived healing abilities.

It is doubtful that an embossed bottle for the product appeared at such an early date. Most likely, it was put up in generic containers with a paper label.

Severl years later, in December of 1871, Chesley again applied for a trademark for his product. This time the name was changed to "Dr Place's Cundurango Bitters". This is when the familiar bottle, embossed Cundurango on two panels, was introduced. Maybe someone with more knowledge of this "Dr Place", and his relationship with the Cundurango herb, and Mr Chesley, will put this information forward.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Don't Call Me Cunder!

After all these years of collecting bottles it still fascinates me how bottle collectors "nickname" different bottles and their variants. Whiskey collectors seem to be the most flamboyant with their pet names. "Fatboy" refers to the earliest J.F. Cutter Star in Shield fifth. "Stovepipe" describes a type of top on western fifths and early western bitters. If you are holding a "Fatboy" with a "stovepipe" top.... look out.. western whiskey collectors will be pestering you for that bad boy..... er, I mean "Fatboy"
The tall tapering sided Bryant's Stomach Bitters have been referred to as the "megaphone", "cone" and my favorite the "dillywacker"! The Bryant's sided ladies leg shaped bottle is just called "THE LEG".
Whiskey collectors fondly refer to the "One Name Bear" and the ultra rare "Two Name Bear" while bitters collectors have their "Two Name Hibernia" and "Small Letter Renz".
The rare Thomas Taylor Virginia N. whiskey fifth is called the "Tommy T" the "Virginia N." and lately the "Smiling Bob" and if it happens to be green its called "expensive".
The Lacour's Sarsapariphere Bitters is simply called "Lacour's" because hardly anyone can pronounce sars - a - pear - a - fear!
When your discussing the Turner Bros. square you had better make sure its either a "three line" or "four line" Turner's before you open the discussion on this bottle.
If you are talking Wonser's (DR. WONSER'S U.S.A. INDIAN ROOT BITTERS) are you talking about the "aqua" Wonser's or the "amber" Wonser's and does it have a "kick up" base or the rare "whiskey" base. And for sure don't get these bottles mixed up with the "Wonser's square".
How about all of the millions of Dr. J. Hostetter's Stomach Bitters that are just called "HOSS".
Out of all the the pet names for our western bottles the one that baffles me the most is the CUNDURANGO. The poor Cundurango is called "Cunder", "Cunderango" and sometimes "Conderango" and has even been printed in bottle books as "CUNDERANGO". What the heck is up with this? If you more than casually glance at the bottle you can see it is boldly embossed "CUNDURANGO" - not on just one side - but BOLDLY EMBOSSED on two sides so that it doesn't matter which way you hold the bottle you can see the word "CUNDURANGO".
Don't get me wrong...... I'm not harping on this Cundurango thing..... I just think a bottle as rare and desirable as the Cundurango should get some respect and be called by its correct name (Thanks Mike) "El Cundurango Magnifico".... Nuff said?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dr Henley's other product

We are all familiar with Henley's IXL Bitters, but he also produced other products, including Celery, Beef, and Iron Tonic. The round, wine shaped cylinder is fairly common, but not the rectangular, applied top one. The tonic was also advertised nicely, with the famous actress Lillian Russell, and the claim that she used the product, being the subject of one such piece. Others are more mundane, with bucolic scenes as subject matter.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bloggers Pix

A nice grouping of western bottles

Hostetter's Rule!

A rare Alex Von Humboldt's Stomach Bitters

A beautiful bottle window of western & eastern glass

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Slick Western Bitters

Hey, we've seen Slick Fifths on the Whiskey Site, How about some Slick Western Bitters Pics (The more the better) Dr.Barnes

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mid November Update

Here it is the middle of November and the holiday season is just around the corner. Thought it might be time to update what's going on in the western bottle community;
Dale Mlasko has started a new western bottle related web site. His new site, Oregon Trail Antique Bottles and Glass, features western bottles for sale, historical information and bottle related news. Take a look at Dale's site, there is a link to it here under Our Favorite Links.

December 4th & 5th is the 32nd annual 49er Historical Bottle Association Show & Sale. Located at the Auburn Fairgrounds this is one show you shouldn't miss. Year after year I have always found something "good" to add to my collection at the Auburn show. Early lookers and dealer setup starts at noon on Friday the 4th. Stop in and pick up that early Christmas present.

And speaking of Christmas presents American Bottle Auctions is holding its auction #49 in December. Jeff has posted some early information on his site and it sounds like there will be something for every one's collecting interests in the upcoming auction. Bitters, flasks, soda's and whiskies are just some of the categories represented in this December's upcoming auction.

Ebay's selection of western bitters has been pretty sketchy the last couple of months but the bottle that garnered the most bids and interest was the Bach Meese Botanic Stomach Bitters. Final selling price for the Botanic was $305. A bargain in my opinion. Other bottles auctioned on ebay included a Peruvian Bitters for $34, a plain aqua Henley's for $110 and a Star Kidney & Liver Bitters reached $95. I, for one will be looking forward to American Bottle Auctions auction #49 this December, with hopes of adding something to my bitters shelf.

I have not heard of anything really killer being dug this season. A Roseville digger reports a least 2 broken amber Lacour's variant 3's coming out of a recently dug pit. A couple of us "high country" boys dug a gold rush era basement last weekend. Boy were the possibilities there for an early square, but the only thing un-earthed were 2 freeblown wines, a squatty black and an english chutney that my digging partner worked over with his shovel.
Have a great Thanksgiving, see you all at Auburn and "keep diggin' em up"