Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Speaking of colors....

One of the benefits of collecting western bitters bottles over categories such as whiskies, sodas, & medicines is the ability to not only collect a varied spectrum of color, but also shapes. We are blessed here on the West coast to have had a few enterprising individuals back a century and a half ago that either believed in the marketing of a product in a fancy container led to better sales or were convinced by the glassworks that such a vessel was necessary or needed, to promote their product above their competition. I for one, am glad for whatever the reason, that they did! (left to right) Lacour's , A T & Co , V. Squarza

Another early square!

Here is another fine example of one of the West's best! A variant 2 ROSENBAUMS BITTERS / N.B. JACOBS & Co / SAN FRANCISCO bitters in a dark root beer color, complete with tilting top! This fine beauty resides in a collection up North. There are approximately 15 known examples of this mold variant extant in western collections presently. Which glassworks manufactured this bottle is not known precisely, but some evidence would suggest that SFGW may have been the maker. Advertising for the Rosenbaums Bitters product while Jacobs marketed it, ended November 1868.

Pictured at right is the almost twin to the Rosenbaums on the left. Well, maybe more like its cousin, it doesn't have the tilting top and the mis-shapen body like the example from "up north". The example at right resides in a gold rush camp in California.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Color Comparison.

Here is a good example of where a disagreement on what to call these shades of green could occur. I took this photograph with the grass background both in and out of sunlight. As you can see the bottle example on the left is a different shade/tone/hue than the example on the right.

The example on the left is close to the grass color in sunlite areas. The example on the right is close to the grass color in the partially shaded areas. Both examples here could be called grass green by two different collectors and neither would be incorrect.

Now for the important information; both examples of the Lacour's Sarsapariphere Bitters are the scarcer variant 2 mold design. There are 6 distinguishing features that set it apart from variant 1.


Two incredible examples of the E. G. LYONS & CO / MANUFACTURERS / SANF co bottle. At left is an olive green example with whittleness to the glass and crude gloppy embossing. At right is an olive yellow example with an incredible amount of glass drip around the neck, with some stippling to the glass and crudity in the lettering. Both of these examples are variant 1 mold design.

Lyons placed two different advertisements in the San Francisco Alta California on January 7, 1865 stating that he was a Wholesale Dealer in Wines and Liquors and Manufacturers of Syrups, Cordials, Bitters at 510 Jackson St, between Montgomery and Kearny S. F.

Rare Western Bitters for Sale

At a recent impromptu gathering three western bitters were offered for sale. At left is one of two or three examples known of the ORIZABA BITTERS / J. MARISTANY JR. This bitters has a slightly flared square flange applied collar top in a medium light amber coloration. The bottle is slightly rectangular in shape with a larger neck diameter than normally seen. Asking price was $9K.

Center is one of two or three known examples of the DR. HARVEY'S / BLOOD BITTERS in a medium amber coloration with a square collar applied top. Oval in shape with some slight stippling to the glass surface, the asking price on this was $6200.

At right is an example of the MACK'S SARSAPARILLA BITTERS / MACK & CO / PROP'RS / SAN FRANCISCO. Not as rare as the previous two examples. Rectangular in shape with concave beveled edges with a long tapered collar applied top. Medium light amber in coloration with an asking price of $1100.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Is That Bottle Really Green?

Every bottle collector (and don't let them tell you different) collects for color. But do they really know what color a bottle is? Do you? Do I?

Why does everyone percieve color different? Well, because color is the distribution of light energy interacting with light receptors in the eye.

Hey all you whiskey collectors -the picture at left is what the rest of the world calls amber.





Nuff said?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cassin's Grape Brandy Bitters

After seeing the picture of the freshly dug Wonsers, I thought I would post this picture of the Cassin's that was dug earlier this year by a Nevada City digger.
It was reported that this bottle was dug out of the clay cap in a pontil era hole and was a "throw in". I sure have never been lucky enough to find this kind of "throw in" in any of the pontiled pits that I have dug.
Sometimes its better to be lucky than good!
This Cassin's bitters is a variant 2 example, in a medium light emerald green when viewed after having the dirt removed from it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June 24th Update

Western Bitters at ebay Auction:
The applied top Yerba Buena bitters offered on ebay, by a noted wine country collector, brought $150 at auctions close.

The indented panel Lash's offered by the Bottle Vault sold for $31. Seems like these Lash's "just don't get any respect".

A real nice and plain (do they come any other way?) Star Kidney & Liver Bitters had 8 bids and finally ended at $53 and a just plain dirt amber Peruvian fetched $58.

Although not a bitters the extremely rare Dr. A.M. Loryea & Co. Unkweed RemedyRheumatic Cure Oregon received 38 bids and closed at $2803 and change. There are possibly only 6 or 7 known examples of the "Unkweed". Blown around 1869 and a deep aqua this super rare Oregon cure is a classic example of early western glass.
Of course, the big news this month is the olive Wonsers that re-located from somewhere in Nevada to southern Oregon. I have probably stared at the picture of this bottle a couple of dozen times and still can't believe what a fantastic color it is. Just a stunning piece of western glass!
The Rumor Mill:
Rumor has it that the Bryant's Stomach Bitters (cone) that was dug in the San Francisco "big dig" and sold at auction, for a record amount, has changed hands.

The Central California collector that purchased the bottle at auction sold it to an unknown party for a reported 6 figure price.
I cannot confirm this information but....., this is the Western Bitters News, and we like to keep fellow collectors abreast of what's happening on the bitters front line.
If you have any news you would like to share, information on this post or just want to bitch - click on the comment button below and let er'rip.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ads from the Territorial Enterprise

Pictured below are a couple of interesting ads from the Virginia, Nevada, Daily Territorial Enterprise of August 6th 1872. They are especially of interest because they advertise some of the products that came in some of the containers which we know and appreciate.Photobucket
Check out the last sentence in this one. Was Brisacher's store the source of those bottles for the VC surrounds?Photobucket

USA Bitters trade mark

The following is William Hawkins' claim of trade marks for Dr. Wonser's USA Indian Root Bitters, dated June 3, 1871. He is to be thanked for providing collectors with those fantastic bottles that are so highly sought after today. Sadly, a color photocopy of the label was not available when I did this several years ago.PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

"Five Figural's"

"A Western Six Pack"

A very nice grouping of "60's" era western glass. In my research of early western made glass, I've been able to document pretty precisely the manufacturing ages of these, with the exception of the E.G. LYONS & CO bottle.
Lacour's Sarsapariphere Bitters marketed and manufactured 1867 - 1869 sold leftover inventory stock to Cassin Bros in 1870.
Cassin's Grape Brandy Bitters marketed and manufactured 1867 - 1868 began marketing their Grape Root Bitters November 1868 and beyond.
Squarza's Hygenic Bitters/Cordials marketed and manufactured 1865-1866 sold out to Cimmino and Bona in early 1867 and moved to his native home.
Simon's Medicated Aromatic Bitters marketed and manufactured 1865 -1866 started in S. F in 1860, no longer listed after 1866.
Rosenbaums Bitters, N.B.Jacobs & Co, San Francisco marketed and manufactured this product 1858 - 1868. Two mold variants made, larger bottle embossed late 1864, eastern in origin, smaller bottle most likely made 1866-1868.
Lyons Manufacturer successor to Crevolin & Co in 1865. Lyons & Co consisting of Jules Hayes at this time. This bottle is known in two mold variants and its date of manufacture is somewhat elusive with no real proof as to how early or late these are made.
There is much more of a story behind these bottles, but that will be told in an upcoming book on early western glass.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


How about this Wonsers that was recently dug from a location somewhere in Nevada. To my eyes its about the color of a Spanish olive and hammer whittled. This fanatstic piece of western glass has found a new home on an advanced Oregon collectors shelf.
The proud new owner describes the bottle as " It is pure olive, with some yellow, just a wierd off color, and a forest green top". "There are swirls of red amber spiraling throughout the entire bottle that you can see in the backlighting. Hammered with whittle like I have never seen. Perfectly mint and recently dug."

Two ads were found during the research of this product. The first appearing in the Gilroy Advocate on June 25th, 1870, this advertisement ran for 3 mos. The manufactory and principal depot for the product was No. 645 Third Street San Francisco and was for sale by all druggists, W. M. Hawkins, Agent.

The second ad came from the San Francisco Daily Examiner on December 17th, 1870, this ad ran for 1 month. Principal depot and manufactory, 418 Sacramento St, San Francisco. Wm. Hawkins, Agent.

The Wonsers shortly after being un-earthed

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

More Renz ads

The following ads are from the yeaes 1868 and 1871 Sacramento City Directories. John Renz REAL business was in paints, oils, wall coverings, etc, but he concocted his bitters as a sideline beginning in 1867.

This is the ad that appeared in the 1868 Directory, the first "announcement" of Dr. J. Renz's Herb Bitters, and with the firm of Langley & Crowell as San Francisco Agents. This product's popularity is evidenced by the numbers of bottles found by diggers over the years.Photobucket

Renz's Bitters continued to be sold in cities and towns all over the immediate West. It's quality was proclaimed by the California Agricultural Society by the awarding of a First Premium Gold Medal at the State Fair of 1870. This 1871 Directory ad is emblazoned with the award, and uses this merit to proclaim it's superiority. We collectors do thank the Agricultural Society for making this award, thereby encreasing the sale and usage of Renz's Bitters by consumers.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


We have had a stretch of wet weather here in UT. Not much digging going on but things are "green"-ing up nicely.

Comparison of var. 1 and var. 2 Lacours. The var. 2 bottles are a bit shorter.

The easiest way for me to tell is the difference in the top of the shoulder. Var. 1 on the left.

The var. 2 Lacours have a larger dot on the base, Var. 1 not large, even hard to see at times.

I believe Warren is going to go into much more detail on the Lacours variants and colors in his upcoming book. Can't wait!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dr Thomas Hall's Trade Card

Dr. Thomas Hall's California Pepsin Wine Bitters is a not so common bottle, but the trade cards from the early 1870s are very scarce. I happened on this one in a book where it had been stashed years ago. A humorous bit of advertising.PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

Asher Taylor's Sacramento connection

Several years ago, while searching the trademark files, I came across Asher S. Taylor's claim for his bitters. There it was, clear as mud. Were, in fact, the AT& Co bottles filled in Sac'to? If you use his trademark application, and the accompanying documents, it would certainly seem so. If that is the case why have none of these bottles showed up in local digs? Very few have been dug, with the exception of the dozen, or so, nice ones from the "Dig of '98". These examples came from SF, not from Sac City. Do you have the answer, Warren? I was disinterested to pursue it forward, but you may have.

Bloggers Pix

I thought it would be fun to post some pictures that have been sent our way:

How about this Orizaba with curved "R's" sent by Jim Walker

Just some killer squares and shards in some wild western colors. Thanks Warren

Here's a big time tear jerker, your basic Lacour's in your not so basic color

A color run of Henley's on display at last years Downieville Bottle Show

Rick Hall sent this smokin' "green" Gun Wa's that he dug in Denver

Thanks everyone, keep sending in your pix!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Western Hostetter's Bitter

Word...That there Hoss looks just like one I dug a couple of weeks ago in Riverside, So-Cal. in a shop 42 Feet down. :c)

Star Of The Union Bitters ad

This one is from the Red Bluff Independent, and it's a nice ad for a product that was sold in labeled only bottles. Too bad that old Fenkhausen hadn't a clue about putting his proud concoction in a fancy embossed container. All those crude 6th squares that we dug in RB could have held that bitters, or anything else for that matter. I like to my imagination run a bit.Photobucket

Lacour's Bitters Ad

This is from one of my copies of a California small town newspaper, the Red Bluff Sentinel. These little daily and weekly rags were full of interesting product and services ads. I wonder if Lacour's was sold next door at the Oriole Saloon? More likely it was available at Brooks' Pharmacy or Pharmacy Hall, two of RBs earliest drug stores. Check out the notice at the bottom where they let you know that the packages and boxes have a lighthouse on them.

I have dug many dozens of pits in Red Bluff, but can't recall ever seeing any "Lakkers chards". Plenty whiskies, though. A green Keller's was found there some years back.Photobucket