Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dr. J. Hostetter's Stomach Bitters

Dr. J. Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters was first marketed in an embossed bottle, on the Pacific Coast, as early as 1858 by the firm of Park & White of San Francisco. David Hostetter, with his father’s recipe for bitters, and George Smith with the capital to produce and market the product, in 1853, formed the firm of Hostetter& Smith. The first containers produced for the western market were the large 31 ounce size “black glass” bottles that were manufactured for the Pacific Coast. A 27 ounce bottle was also produced for the western market. These large blacks are rarely unearthed east of the Rocky Mountains and almost all examples have been discovered on the west coast. The large size Hostetter’s were distributed until sometime around February 1865 when in an advertisement run by Hostetter, Smith & Dean they claim to be discontinuining “the old size large bottle used exclusively in the west” and replacing it with the small size 20 ounce bottle. This information leads me to believe that if you are digging the large size Hostetter’s here in the west you are digging a bottle made before 1865 and possibly as early as 1858.
Although several western collectors believe some variants of the Hostetter’s were blown out west I cannot find any evidence that Hostetter had any of his bitters bottles manufactured on the west coast.
Hostetter’s Bitters was one of the best selling bottled products of the 19th century and the amount of these bottles available to collectors is staggering. It is believed that after 1865 Hostetter was selling over six thousand bottles of bitters a day, an unbelievable amount of bottled goods for that time period. The Hostetter’s come in dozens of variants and a myriad of colors ranging from the lightest of yellows to a dark black-amber. Although the majority of the Hostetter’s are considered common, unusual colors and different mold variants are highly desirable and sought after by collectors.







9 comments:

  1. The steamship Arabia sunk on Sept. 1856 .Hostetter's Bitters were recovered from that vessel .At the Collinsville Show in 07 I was able to take a rubbing of one of them.It was a smooth base bottle .I compared the rubbing with an amber graphite pontiled bottle that I own.It was the same mold.The other graphite pontiled Hostetter's than I own is a completly different mold .I have never heard of a graphite pontiled varient in blas glass.I have dug large size amber Hostetter's in a hole where everything in the hole was pontiled including a broken Baker & Cutting pickle. I did purchase a black glass one from the Mckenzie collection that was supposed to have been open pontil or sticky pontiled I belive it to be not either just a little bit of glass on the base .SOOOOO -The earliest for sure Hostetters are amber not black glass .I think it was 1860 that they started shipping the small size bottles to the west ,I have that info someplace ??

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    1. Hi my name is Eddie I was wondering if you had any blackglass Hostetters that you would like to sell ? thanks!

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    2. I have 2 bottle sitting if front of me and now see one on e-bay , right that going for 295.00 dollars

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  2. I just found one buried in a pile of dirt in a house that I am rebuilding in new Orleans by-water area. on the bottom it says:

    A & D H C with a "J" smack in the middle?? anybody else have some info?? by the way its a dark brown bottle.

    aaron....aa_robinson67@yahoo.com

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    1. Hi john -my name is Eddie Cunningham,I live in Metairie Louisiana and I am a bottle digger I can come over to your house and dig the priveys and well if their is any on your property and we can split the bottles if you would like, if this sounds good with you send me an email eddieec3@gmail.com

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  3. i have one that just has an M on the bottom..still has the cork in it...looks like the one in pic but more brown... whats it about
    heather_lenk07@hotmail.com

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  4. My husband and I do Civil War Medical reenacting. We are searching for a complete bottle label-reproduction is FINE!-for our bottle to use in displays. If anyone has or can git us a copy, we wopuld be very thankful.
    Carol Foote
    Chief Matron, Dietary Hospital Kitchen
    2nd Div. Field Hospital Army of the West
    cwdarlin@msn.com

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  5. how does anyone really know what these hotstetter's bottle are worth? on ebay, some are listed for 10.99,while others are listed for 129.00!!!!
    wondering what mine is worth? help!!!!!!!!

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  6. I Have a amber Hotstettes bottle with numbers on bottom of bottle embosed is 762 and below that is a 25 and then below that not embosed is 62 but to the left of the non embosed 62 looks like a number 1 . Trying to find out how old and value ?

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