Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Mystery and a Boerhaave's!

Here is a shard that was sent in from Rob Goodson, it is a partial panel from a square style bottle. It was dug along with a Dr. Boerhaave's Stomach Bitters example below.
This Boerhaave's example is in a terrific olive color, which I have never seen before. There are approximately 11 examples of this bottle currently in western collections, most being the dark green with a couple in old amber.
This is another bitters product which was advertised briefly. Three different advertisements were found for this product in four different newspapers. The earliest advertisement shows Siegfried Wertheimber as the agent at 311 Commercial St, San Francisco, this ad began on March 7th, 1868 and ran several times in the San Francisco Daily Dramatic Chronicle paper. This product was also advertised in the Los Angeles paper in 1868 by a local druggist. It was also marketed in Oregon by Millard & Van Schuyver agents in the Portland Morning Oregonian paper from May 15th, 1868 thru January 28, 1869. Again S. Wertheimber was the agent in S.F. The last advertisement shows S. Wertheimber & L. Waterman in an ad, where there location was now 219 Commercial St, S.F.
(The ads promoted this product by using a testimonial from a Prof. Hildebrand, a distinguished Physician of Vienna, who has used them for thirty years.)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Western Glass

Here are three western bitters that will be at this years Federation National Show. They are also three of the bottles that I researched their histories, and will be included, in an upcoming book being written on Early Glassworks of California 1859 to 1875. Left Lacour's, center AT & Co and right Cassin's.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Renz and Von Humboldts Bitters

These two early bitters share some unique characteristics that give some clues to when and where they were made.
The variant 1 Dr. Renz's Herb Bitters has 4 key features in common with the Alex Von Humboldts Stomach Bitters
which suggests that both bottles were made by the same moldmaker which probably was associated with the same glassworks. (Renz variants 2 & 3 have different mould features and are probably made and blown by a different glassworks)
The Renz bitters was first introduced to the California public on August 31st, 1867, the Von Humboldts bitters was a product of Charles V. Fleishmann, and first advertised in early 1868.
Both bottles have the same style & size of lettering, both bottles were made with a 7/16th wide bevel edge (uncomon on squares), both have a particular circular inset in the base with a rather large center dot and both have a unique mold line running parallel along two adjacent panels on the base. These two western squares share features with two other western figural bitters which are associated with SFGW. At the 1868 S. F. Mechanics Fair, the San Francisco Daily Times reported in their article about SFGW's display that among their varied display of glassware were bitters bottles with names stamped into the glass.
In my research of western bitters, those particularly made or marketed during the 1860's the evidence suggests that San Francisco Glass Works most likely was responsible for these two bottles and their respective moulds.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Surveys top pick

Here are some examples of the top Western bitters as chosen by the survey participants. Shown are both examples of the Cassin's bitters. The example on the left (a yellow green) is the earlier variant (inset panel), marketed in 1867. The center example (an olive color) is the later variant (flat panel) marketed thru 1868. The right example (dark orangish amber) is also a variant 1, however it appears more like a variant 2 due to it being underblown using a much heavier glass material.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The 2008 Western Bitters Survey

About a year ago, three western glass collectors decided to set about the task of compiling the opinions of antique bottle collectors on their ranking of embossed western distributed and western manufactured bitters bottles. This task would be made more daunting by the fact that there were approximately 100 variants known, and how to keep the prospective survey taker interested in completing this time consuming ordeal. As it was the survey comprised of five pages and certainly could have been more, with additions like color, size, and mold variations.

Our goal was to weigh each bottle against the other, using factors that antique bottle collectors strive for; such as age, color, shape, glass characteristics, lettering style, interesting name, etc. We made a relatively complete comprehensive listing of known bottles, including a place for listing a candidate not included on the list. We also wanted the bottle collector to rank the bottle by their criteria of importance, whatever that may mean to them. We were able to present 94 bitters in their ranking of importance, we were able to show the importance of the ranking position in relation to each other by the collector, and we were able to show the average ranked position each bottle held to each other. This gave us a good indication as to which bottles appeal to collectors and where they stood in relation to each other. There is no monetary ranking, but from this data, it can be extrapolated as to which bottles in a direct comparison to each other appeal more favorably to the collector over any other one.

Over 220 surveys were handed out at western bottle shows and mailed to collectors.
Of those 220 surveys 65 were returned to be tabulated.

Here then are the results:












12. ROSENBAUMS BITTERS N.B. JACOBS & Co SAN FRANCISCO (small western variant)


14. ROSENBAUMS BITTERS N. B. JACOBS & Co SAN FRANCISCO (large eastern variant)


16. E. WIDEMAN & J. CHAPPAZ ( Alpine Stomach Bitters)

17. V. SQUARZA (anti-dyspeptic or hygienic bitters)




Western Bitters Top Dog?

Over on the WesternGlopTopWhiskies blog site, there has been a lively discussion about whether the California Clubhouse whiskey is the top dog of the western whiskey world. Several reasons were cited as to why it should retain the number 1 spot among the collectors of these coveted cylinders of glass. Full face embossing, interesting, elaborate monogram, color, etc.

I thought it might be interesting to do such a parallel comparison with the bitters. Here is a picture of the California Bitters / Manufactured only by / J. G. Frisch San Francisco, this bitters has the word California spelled out, it also has San Francisco spelled out and it would compare with the whiskies that have full face embossing by having 3 embossed panels. It's definitely an early made bottle among the bitters bottles standards. It's rarity is pretty much unquestioned with this example residing on the East coast and the other residing on the West coast. Both examples are an amber coloration with a iron pontil mark on the base. It certainly deserves to rank among the top contenders for the number 1 coveted spot. The one area that it may fall short is whether bitters collectors would consider a bottle that was of western distribution, but eastern in manufacture to hold the coveted number 1 ranking. Obviously there is some consensus to this, as another highly desireable bitters, the Bryant's Stomach Bitters also a western marketed product but of eastern origin and manufacture is coveted by advanced western bitters collectors and has been published in print as to being considered the top western bitters.

If a vote were to be held between these two examples only, my personal choice would be the Frisch bottle probably based on similar criteria that the whiskey collectors use. However like the whiskey collectors if the listing of choice for the coveted top honor were open, I certainly would have nominated another contender!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Detachable Plates for Glass Molds

Have you ever wondered why two of the bottles you own have different embossing but look like they were blown in the same mold. Well - that's because they were !!!!
Back in February of 1875 Gustavus Storm applied for, and was granted in May of the same year, a patent for Improvement in Detachable Plates for Glass Molds.
Gustravus didn't invent the slug plate he just made improvements to the original concept, stacking several plates together and venting the plates for air to escape when the molten glass was blown into the mold.
This improvement allowed the glass houses to carry a "standard mold" for a particular style of bottle, for instance, a medicine mold, beer mold, bitters mold and so on.
The detachable slug plate was then engraved to the clients specifications - for example -

Take a look at the Taussig and Mott's bottles pictured at left. Sure looks like an identical mold with different embossing to my eyes.

The side view of the bottle mold in Figure 1 shows how the slug plate sits in a hollow in the mold. Note the rivets holding several plates together.
Each plate could possibly hold from one to several engraved letters.

Figure 2 shows the engraved plates in the bottle mold. Notice how the engraved letters are backwards on the plates. Ever wonder why some bottles have a backwards letter in the embossing.

The top view of the bottle mold in Figure 3 shows the detachable slug plates sitting in the hollow of the mold.
Figure 4 shows the "stacked" plates before being engraved. Rivets hold the plates together

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Henleys' earliest IXL bitters

Here is a nice grouping of Dr. Henley's Wild Grape Root IXL Bitters in an array of western colors. The examples shown are the earliest mold variant without circled IXL logo.

Louis Gross & Co were the manufacturers and proprietors and began marketing this product in early 1868. His location was 312 Sacramento St, San Francisco. In 1869 L. Gross & Co relocated to 518 Front St, where there advertisements now used their logo with the circle around the IXL trademark.

The variant 1 & 2 molds marketed by Gross & Co from 1868 thru 1870 come in a variety of colors, and are a product of Pacific Glass Works, (an example can be seen in the glassware display exhibited at the 1869 Mechanics Institute Fair in S.F.) and these examples often exhibit great glass characteristics, such as drippy tops, seedy bubbles, whittley glass, etc.

The above bottles were on display at the 2008 Downieville Bottle Show

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Excelsior Sierra County California

The gold rush camp of Excelsior lies on a steep hillside about a mile northeast of Monte Cristo at the head of Excelsior Ravine. This early mining camp was founded by prospectors from Monte Cristo sometime in 1853. During the peak of Excelsior’s growth this camp had a population of one hundred men, ten ladies and several children. Two grocery stores, a hardware store, blacksmith shop, livery stable and a couple dozen cabins were situated precariously on the steep hillside.

In researching this camp it is interesting to note that in a letter written to the Mountain Messenger in June of 1860 the correspondent “Dead Broke” commented on the fact that “Excelsior still has no place where liquor is sold”. From this correspondence I believe that although several different kinds of spirit bottles were found at Excelsior, liquor was not sold and saloons did not exist in this small gold rush camp.

A tunnel drifted into the side of the mountain to reach the ancient river channel was the most often used method of mining at this small camp. North of the townsite there is one section of ground that was washed away by hydraulic monitors.

The placer diggings paid well at Excelsior, but as in other areas of Sierra County, an exodus was taking place during the early 1860’s as can be documented by another excerpt from a letter to the Mountain Messenger dated June 26, 1861 from “Dead Broke”.
“A great many of our citizens have left within the last few months, and many more are preparing to follow. I am glad to state from personal knowledge that they are all leaving with means enough at their command to insure them a happy home in some of our fertile valleys. Your correspondent, however, is not one of them, as he thinks he will have to stay on the mountain until Gabriel blows his horn".
Excelsior’s days as a productive camp were numbered and more miners and families left this little settlement during the 1860’s. The Mountain Messenger in its issue of June 18, 1862 reports the following about mining at Excelsior. “This place does not seem to improve much during the last year, but all claims appear to be doing well.”

Excelsior was mined during the depression era but the citizen’s that left during the waning years of the gold rush must have had “means enough” judging by the amount of artifacts that they left behind. Discoveries at Excelsior include hundreds of feet of ore car rail, a 400 pound anvil, a hydraulic monitor and other mining related equipment. Bottles that have been recovered from the townsite include several black Hostetter's bitters, a Booth & Sedgwick London Cordial Gin, Udolpho Wolfe’s Aromatic Schnapps, Chestnut Grove Whiskey, a handled Whitney Glass Works whiskey, Patent whiskey fifths, an emerald green Teakettle ink, a large size Sand’s Sarsaparilla open pontil, open pontil umbrella inks in amber, green, aqua and scores of open pontil and smooth base food bottles. In 2008 on a field trip to Excelsior I discovered a broken Crowell, Crane & Brigham Sarsaparilla & Yellow Dock with an iron pontil.

At the site of this early camp a hydraulic mine pit, scattered trash, a caved in drift tunnel and one cabin still remain.
The above post was taken from the forthcoming book "Gold Rush Camps and Bottles of Sierra County" available in September at the Downieville Bottle Show

What was Dr. Henleys Tamarack???

Not sure what Tamarack was but it looks like it might have cured the results of too much eye opener..........or bitters. Looks like he was double ending that deal, create a product with lots of alcohol and then come up with a product that brings em back around, so they can start all over again. From an edition of the Wasp July 21, 1888. A clean stomach makes a clear head, was this some sort of vomit inducement? Must not have been a big seller, never seen an embossed one. Any comments?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dr. Renzs Advertisement 1893 Tooled Top?

This advertisement is from the 1893 Edition of The California Demokrat, a German periodical of the time printed in San Francisco, CAL. Renz must have still been producing the product, although it may have been paper labeled at that point. Listed as being at 315 Commercial Street, San Francisco, probably between Montgomery and Sansome Streets at that time. It also makes mention of Renzs Blackberry Brandy, so maybe he ordered large and then took his sweet time to unload the inventory. The Germans really controlled the wholesale liquor and brewing industries for years, and a whole community within a community existed, enough to support this newspaper which has great ads of other dealers all written and printed in the native tongue. Has anyone seen a tooled top Renzs?

The Shard Table

Pictured above is a table full of "criers" that was on display at a recent get together.
3 Lacour's, a California Clubhouse base, Baker & Cutting pickles, 2 large Rosenbaums, 1 small lettered Renz, 2 Cassin's and shards of other rare western bottles can be seen on the table. Just an awesome display of broken western glass!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ya Gotta Love the Name.

Just a fascinating name for a product! Curiosity alone should have helped sell this product! One of three Henley's products marketed in this cylinder shaped container. It is believed to be the third product marketed, behind the famous Dr. Henley's Wild Grape Root IXL Bitters first brought to the market in 1868, followed by the OK Bitters, which was a spiced wine bitters product marketed in late 1871, followed by this product Dr. Henley's Eye Opener some years later.

With a product name like this, one would think that the base vehicle ingredient used would be stronger than the wines, brandies, rum or wheat whiskies that were being used in other bitters type products.

Louis Gross & Co was the sole proprietor in San Francisco for Henley's Wild Grape Root Bitters in 1868, Henry Epstein & Co were the sole proprietors in S.F. when the OK Bitters was marketed. Most likely Isador Landsberger was promoting the Henley products when the Eye Opener was brought to market.

These bottles come in some beautiful colors, some examples in current collections are yellow-olive, light green and blue-aqua as seen here. Approximately 10 or so examples are in western collections.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Close, but no cigar.

Oh well, that's how bottle digging goes sometimes. Todays attempt showed possibles, but feeble results in the end. We did dig a bunch of bottles, just nothing to write home about. A few SF jakes, a couple Farrells, a nice six sided cathedral sauce, piles of the usual throw back blacks, star based unembossed fifths and sixths, inks, etc, etc. Criers were cobalt and green sodas, a shoulder crown Martin fifth, and a super colored Hostie. The major criers were two crackerjacked Lacour's. Why are the "goodies" always thrashed? Yeah, the open pontilled Richardson's came out whole, but that's barely a keeper. I guess there's always tomorrow. One thing we did get to dig were tons of monster hunks of granite.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Western Beauty!

Here is my favorite color in western glass. In a natural light setting with overcast skies behind; this vibrant yellow-green is simply stunning. Pictured left to right are a CUNDURANGO, E. G. LYONS & DR. RENZ's.