Friday, June 5, 2009

Bryant's Stomach Bitters

Circa: 1857 – 1859
(Bryant’s Cone)

G.N.W. Bryant created what has become one of the most sought after bitters containers in the bottle collecting community. This bottle was manufactured in the east and it is believed distributed exclusively in the west during the years 1857 – 1859. The firm of William Newell & Co, an early San Francisco wholesale liquor house, were the agents for Bryant’s Stomach Bitters on the Pacific Coast.
In his advertisements Bryant claimed his bitters were an unrivaled stomach corrector and had no equal at restoring the vital energy of the entire system. He recommended a half a glass of his wine bitters before meals to impart a keen relish for food.
Bryant probably only produced this bottle for no more than a couple of years and by 1870 all mention of Bryant ends.

Relation to Sierra County
Early day Downieville bottle diggers claim to have found pieces of the Bryant’s cone shaped bitters in the downtown area behind the present day Yuba Theater. I cannot confirm these allegations, even though I have dug extensively in this area of Downieville. A Nevada City digger reports that shards of the Bryant’s cone were discovered in the town of Camptonville in Yuba County. Camptonville sits twenty miles south west of Downieville on the early supply road from Marysville to Downieville. A broken example was dug in San Francisco in the 1990’s along with shards of another example.
It is believed that there are only four intact Bryant’s Stomach Bitters and another three examples that have been repaired or pieced together. It is reported that an intact example was recovered from Sacramento sometime in 1962 and another complete Bryant’s was un-earthed in the gold rush town of North San Juan. The third complete specimen of the Bryant’s was discovered at the “big dig” in San Francisco and a fourth example was found in Portland. At least three of the four intact examples of the Bryant’s are located in California collections, two in northern part of the state and the other in central California.
The Bryant’s Stomach Bitters is an extremely rare and important piece of California gold rush history and a highly desirable addition to an advanced bottle collector. This bottle is so desirable that the only specimen that has come to auction fetched a record setting price and is believed to be the highest price ever paid for a bottle. Bar None!

photo courtesy American Bottle Auctions


  1. Not to bore you guys but this East Coast digger was wondering if you could share some insight about G.N.W. Bryant. I understand that this particular Bryant was confirmed as the purveyor of the stomach bitters from an advertisement in the September 20, 1859 issue of the Sacramento Daily Union; however, I have not been able to see or confirm that advertisement. In fact, the only Bryant's Bitters advertisements I located were in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and they neglected to shed light on the creator or purveyor of Bryant's Stomach Bitters. Also, please pardon my ignorance, but am I correct in assuming the cone and the lady's leg are chronological variants from Bryant with the cone being earlier?

    The reason for my questions is that an intact pontiled lady's leg example was excavated in a Manhattan, yup, a New York, NY stone-lined privy this year -- along with another broken one. Being new to this blog thing, I would post pictures if I could or can send them to whoever posts but am at a bit of a loss at to protocol. Nonetheless, you can check out my little write-up with pictures and some advertisements in our bottle club's May 2009 newsletter available on our website (click on my name and follow the headers to the newsletters).

    Thanks much.

  2. I'm Not 100% sure if it is the same bottle but I saw one that looked exactly like this one in an online bottle auction and I think it sold for around $15,000 it was at

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