Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rosenbaums Bitters: New information sheds light on origin!

My research into the Rosenbaums Bitters bottles has brought new information to collectors of these western distributed bottles. For awhile now, several western glass collectors have hypothesized as to whether the R93 bottles were made in the West or the East. A unique mould mark has been the discussion on another bottle forum by some Eastern collectors who have examples of bottles with this particular nuance. This particular mark has been seen on a Saratoga Mineral Water bottle, Old Sachem Bitters and Wigwam Tonic bottle, Wishart's Pine Tree Tar Cordial bottle and other Eastern made bottles. This mark has also been seen on a Rosenbaum Bitters [R93] bottle.

Rosenbaums Bitters was originally manufactured by Dr. Rosenbaum of Philadelphia. The product was first marketed in the West in early 1858, and the embossed bottle began to be marketed in 1864. Most likely the bottles and mold were made by an Eastern glassworks initially. The colors of the bottles, the style of a tapered collar mouth, the half post hinge mold seam and large dot in the center base of the bottle are typical features seen on Eastern manufactured bottles, along with this unique mark left on other Eastern bottles are a pretty good indication of its original origin.

An interesting letter was discovered by a Western glass collector, whose family ran an early saloon in California. A letter written from N. B. Jacobs, who was the Pacific coast agent for this bitters brand and became the Sole Proprietor for it in the early '60's was addressed to the proprietor of this saloon in answer to his request for six cases of Rosenbaums Bitters. Jacobs replied that he was unable to fill the request and that it would be two months before he could. The letter was written in the year 1866. Several conjectures could be made from this information, one possible explanation could be that the mould was in transport from the Eastern glassworks to the West for use at one of two glassworks in business in San Francisco where Jacobs & Co were located. Private moulds were considered the property of the owner and were kept at the glassworks to fill orders when needed.

This scenario would certainly explain why some R93 bottles have been dug in the West having some variation from what is typically seen on this bottle. A few examples have been found having a tapered collar with lower ring style of mouth, these examples do not have the large dot in the center base and are also found in colors typically seen in western blown glass.

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