Monday, September 28, 2009

Contrasting colors of Western Squares

I noticed over on the Western Glob Top Whiskies blogsite they had been posting several examples showing the various hues of amber those cylinders come in. I thought our followers on this blogsite might enjoy seeing some western squares in some contrasting colors. The photograph below shows a orange-amber colored Bennet's Wild Cherry Stomach Bitters / Chenery, Souther & Co Sole Agents San Francisco, Cal. (I've also owned this bottle in an olive-amber coloration as well). Next to it is a Dr. Henley's Wild Grape Root IXL Bitters in yellow w/slight amber hue. Quite the contrast between these two squares in color.

The photograph to the right shows the two variants of the Hibernia Bitters in contrasting colors also. On the left is the later variant with Hibernia Bitters embossed horizontally across the front panel in a yellow color with slight amber hue. On the right is the Hibernia Bitters Braunschweiger & Bumsted San Francisco, Cal. variant in a reddish orange amber.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Western Blown Ayers?

Here's a bottle that I ran across on ebay the other day. I am not sure who the seller is but it seems he is pretty hungry to get off of this dirt common bottle. Just check his listing description:
"Trust me, I was skittish putting an AYER'S on, but when I cleaned it up, I had to wonder about the curved "R's" And why not, the White's Prairie Flower was blown for a Toledo, Ohio-based company. The product was simply shipped aroud the horn in casks to avoid the common problem of breaking bottles in land-travel, and filled here, where an agent for the company had a surplus of their bottle at the ready. This bottle is 7 1/8" tall X 2 3/8" wide. It reads CHERRY on one side panel, PECTORAL on the other side, AYER'S in a sunken panel in front, and LOWELL / MASS on the back. There is a booger in the corner of the AYER'S panel, and some nice bubbles.
When San Francisco Glass Works bought out The American Glass Works in 1876, and is renamed San Francisco & American Bottle Works (later, SFPGW). During this time, the most beautiful western bottles were made, and their reputation spanned the globe. SFPGW is attributed with having the very recognized curved "R" on bottles made by their mold makers. This mark has always identified the fact that it was blown in the west, but more specifically by the SFPGW, MAKING THIS BOTTLE, WITHOUT A DOUBT, WESTERN-BLOWN."
All of you that believe this Ayer's is western raise your hands. I have a bridge you might like to buy! Oh, and if you buy bottles with "boogers" in the corners, you may need professional help.

CUNDURANGO...A SFGW blown bottle.

Above is a nice grouping of Dr. Place's Cundurango Bitters, this product was advertised in the Sacramento Daily Union newspaper on November 20th, 1873, this ad ran for 1 month. These bottles were blown at the San Francisco Glass Works, fortunately we were blessed with a photograph taken by a S.F. photographer of SFGW's display of glass-ware at the 1874 S. F. Mechanics Institute Fair. We can actually identify this particular bottle by its embossing in the photograph when enlarged.
The three distinct colors of this bottle shown above can be viewed along with two other examples in terrific colors, also pictured elsewhere on this blogsite. A wonderful yellow-green example owned by Miller's Extra and a beautiful grass green example in Ken Edward's collection.
These Cundurango's were part of Elmer Smith's collection back in 1992. They were acquired and subsequently sold years later.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mr. Chalmers

Hi All, the good Dr.Barnes here. I ran across this article and pictures concerning the Catawba Wine Bitters. This came from a 1958 copy of a booklet entitled Coloma, California's Golden Beginning. This story is about half way through the booklet so I will just stick to the story at hand. For your enjoyment.

Meanwhile, Robert Chalmers had become the proud owner of the Sierra Nevada Hotel as well as several other properties. In addition to his financial success, he had become a real piller of the community and was well liked and respected.

Widowed twice by the time of Allhoff's death, Chalmers married Louisa Allhoff in 1869 and moved onto the Allhoff land. He expanded the Vineyards and won prize after prize at the State Fair. Allhoff had constructed two wine cellers - one in 1860 and the other in 1866. Chalmers built an adjoining one in 1875, and it was occasioned by a big celebration with the Governor and other notables taking part. James Marshall presented some of his papers and they were placed in the cornerstone along with sample bottles of wine and other objects.

The Vineyard House was built in 1878 as not only a home for the Chalmers family, but as a Hotel. The Grand Opening was on April 4, 1879, and people came from miles around to take part in the festivities. For a short time all was well, as the house became the center of social activities in the area.

Then suddenly, tragedy struck again as the court records show that in 1880 Robert Chalmers was declared mentally incompetent and his Brother appointed guardian over his affairs. From then on till his death a year later, Robert Chalmers became a man of mystery to the people of the valley. Wild stories were sread about him including one that he was kept in a windowless room in the basement of the house. This seems very unlikely, but it does appear that he was kept in a room in a nearby building where he had a constant companion, not only because of his mental state but because his eyesight had failed him, he was blind. (I wonder if it was from drinking the product?)

Louisa Chalmers, widowed again, now found herself with a court battle on her hands as one of Chalmer's sons by his first marriage filled a large claim against the estate. Other creditors appeared including a bank in Stockton which held a large loan against the property. ZFor a time it looked as though she and her children would lose even the original land which had belonged to Allhoff, but the courts, after three years, deeded her the house and about ten acres of land. Ohhh the Drama, even way back then. Peace Out. Dr.Barnes.

More on the term Western

Above you will see an advertisement that was placed in the San Francisco Daily Alta California paper on February 9th, 1865, this ad ran for 1 month. Now here is a good example where the business concern and manufacturing of this bitters product are located in the East, specifically in Pittsburg, PA, however the business concern does have a wholesale/retail import business in San Francisco, CA., and who was involved with a San Francisco glass works.
The examples shown above are the three variants in size. Far right is the 31 oz size with the larger lettering, very reminescent of the illustrated drawing shown of this product advertised by the earliest west coast agency, Park & White in an ad of 1859. The middle is the 27 oz size. The far left is the 20 oz size. All 3 examples are quite crude in condition and were dug in Nevada County in Orleans Flat, Nevada and Grass Valley (Centreville).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What Really is Western?

For quite awhile another Western Bitters News author and I have been throwing around the idea of writing a post on "What is Western"

I have asked a half dozen collectors what their definition of western is and have received six different answers. A couple of western collectors looked at me aghast when asked the "W" question, "Just what do you mean by that" or "What part of the country are you considering western" and "why do you want to know" Whoa' boys I'm not trying to pin the tail on the donkey - just asking a simple question. I sure don't understand why these so called "western " collectors get their hackles up when asked "What is Western?"

How about this reply - "To many Easterners the term west used to mean on the west side of the Mississippi or even the western end of Pennsylvania. So should we call the Ohio & Pittsburgh glasshouses western?". Gimme a break anybody knows Ohio isn't in the west, try heading a little further toward the Pacific Ocean feller. Here's one that got me to laughing- "I collect Arizona bottles, do they have to be made in Arizona or just say Arizona to be Arizona bottles?" Huh? Are western bottles only manufactured in San Francisco? Listen to this reply " I have a western whiskey collection, and I am personally not going to throw out all of my bottles that are not pictured in the San Francisco Glassworks display" Come on, start throwing those non S.F. Glass Works fifth's my way!

Most all bottle collectors seem to collect in some area, category or grouping. For instance some folks collect bottles that they found while others collect a type of bottle that is popular or heavily advertised as a desirable category. Other collectors try to put together groupings of what they feel are related bottles.

And then there is the western collector! Now a western collector can be a soda, whiskey, bitters, medicine, seltzer, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada or even a Hawaii etc. collector or all of the above. (can't get much further west than Hawaii unless you call Japan west) Some collectors specialize in whiskey bottles from Sacramento or soda bottles from Oregon. Others in western bitters blown at the Pacific or San Francisco glass works before 1870. Do you get where I am going with this? Well, lets try to put a few parameters on this whole western bottle collecting thing. Here are a few things to consider:

Should you consider a bottle western if it was blown in the east for an eastern merchant that was marketing the product in the west. I believe the Old Sachem Bitters & Wigwam Tonic, Bryant's Stomach Bitters, Liediard's Stomach Bitters, Catawba Wine Bitters and others fit into this category. The gold rush produced an instant market for any product that could be sent to the west. Are these western?

How about considering a bottle western if it was blown in the east for a western merchant that was marketing the product in the west. For instance, most of the pontiled soda bottles such as the Boley, Cudworth and the M&R and the early medicines like the Oil of Manzanita for Sacramento druggists McDonald & Levy fit into this category. Are you calling these western?

Oh, how about a bottle that was blown in a different country for a western merchant that was marketing the product in the west? The red whittled whiskies and bitters of the late 1880's come to mind. Is that what you would call western? Or would you call these foreign?

And then there's the ( what my old friend Roger Terrry would call the royal flush ) bottle that was blown in a western glass house, for a western merchant, filled with western ingredients, marketed exclusively in the west and discovered by a western bottle digger in a western state. WOW! THAT HAS TO BE WESTERN!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Advertising their products.

For the past couple of years I've been researching as much as possible to be able to fill in the histories behind some of the bitters that I like to collect. I think it adds a tremendous amount of interest to the bottle itself, knowing some history about it, when it was marketed, for how long and where it was advertised. Interestingly, when we put out the Western Bitters Survey we listed some 94 different embossed bitters; and when you count the known variations of these there are over 100 examples currently accounted for. Yet, when I began my research efforts to document these bitters products I found that certain bitters were difficult to find any type of advertisements for them, and I wondered why. I still haven't found an answer; but the proprietors of these products must have felt it unnecessary to expend the effort or the monies to promote their goods. I was fortunate to have been able to provide a story for some of the early western bitters that I covet, however there are a few that I have found little if anything on. Some of these products, the agent or proprietor probably left it up to the wholesaler or retailer to promote the product. One of the products that I have found little information on its marketing has been the Dr. Boerhaave's Stomach Bitters. Above you will find the only advertisements I know of for this product. It was a relatively short lived bitters being advertised only during the March '68 thru January '69 time period. Wertheimber and Waterman were the manufacturers and dealers for this bitters.
The earliest advertisement is the bottom ad which shows only Siegfried Wertheimber at the earlier address of 311 Commercial St, S.F. in early 1868. The advertisement directly above it shows both S. Wertheimber and Louis Waterman at their later location at 219 Commercial St, S.F. This ad ran thru most of 1868 and into January 1869. The ad above and to the left show the agents for Oregon being Millard & Van Shuyver, this ad ran from May 15th, 1868 thru January 28th, 1869. This same advertising form was used in a Los Angeles paper by a local druggist who sold this product during the 1868 time as well.
I know of 9 collectors with whole examples of this bitters, one collector who has 2 examples, accounting for 10 examples in collections that I am aware of. The prevalent colors seem to be a dark green, old amber and yellow-olive. If this is a western made bottle it would most likely have been blown at Pacific Glass Works. I have no evidence to substantiate this though.
Wertheimber & Waterman exhibited their products at the 1868 San Francisco Mechanics Institute Fair, the San Francisco Daily Alta California reported this in their Sept 9th column on the fair's exhibiters "Wertheimer & Waterman have two casks, lettered in gold leaf, containing respectively the Boonekamp and Maag Bitters. They also have a large collection of bottles containing Boerhaave's stomach bitters, and the new drink known as the 'Splendid'."
Shortly after the last advertisements of this product, the partnership of S. Wertheimber and L. Waterman was dissolved on September 25th, 1869, Siegfried Wertheimber selling all his interest in the firm to Phillip Wertheimber with the firm name staying the same. It is not known whether the Dr. Boerhaave's bitters was still being carried or marketed by the new firm, one would have to find an advertisement or a labeled example of this product to know.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Where are they now?

The above photo was taken back in 1993. It is a grouping of western bitters that were part of the Elmer Smith collection before being consigned to Glassworks Auction. Elmer had amassed 54 variants of western bitters. (L to R)
1. Variant 2 Lacour's Bitters; formerly of Quinn collection, now in ?
2. N. B. Jacobs / San Francisco; formerly of Friedrich collection, now in Madruga collection.
3. Dr. Wonser's / U S A Bitters; formerly of Friedrich collection, now in Siri collection?
4. Variant 2 Rosenbaums Bitters; formerly of Friedrich collection, Balch collection, now in ?
5. Variant 1 Lacour's Bitters; formerly of Quinn collection, now in Hubbel collection.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Downieville Show Pictures

Snackin' at the Saloon

Lead labeled Food Bottles
Need a Tool Top Whiskey?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Downieville "09"

Here are a few pictures from the 09 Downieville Show:

John hangin' at the
Friday Night BBQ

The Saloon and Brewery Cave
Lane checking out the displays

Thanks from Downieville

In the next few days we will be posting pictures and reports from the "09" Downieville Bottle Show. While we are putting these posts together I would like to thank all the folks that made this years show another success.

The Friday Night BBQ Crew:
Rick & Jackie Lindgren, Tim & Fran Higgins, Lou & Leisa Lambert, Warren & Linda Friedrich. Charlie & Tina Holt, Janice Lindgren and Rick & Cherry Simi

The Wine Tasting was provided by Will & Jeanne Clark of 49 Wines here in Downieville with help from Janice Lindgren. What a great tasting!

This years displayers included Max & Shannon Bell, Rick Pisano, Sierra County Treasurer Stephanie Levings, Ken Edward, Jerry Forbes, Lou Lambert and Warren Friedrich, thanks to all of you for the fantastic displays.

Thanks to all the people that helped setup and tear down tables, chairs etc. There were way too many helping for me to remember all of you

Of course it wouldn't be a show and sale without all the dealers that made the trek to Downieville and provided the bottles and collectibles for the people attending the show. Thanks!

And a special thanks to all the folks who came up to the mountains and attended the show, without you we wouldn't have a bottle show. Thanks again to everyone and we hope to see you next year!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Still more Western Bitters on display at the Downieville Antique Bottle Show

Another display case of western bitters, (L to R) a green variant 2 Rosenbaums Bitters, a yellow-olive variant 1 Cassin's, a green E. G. Lyons and a yellow-green variant 2 Cassin's.
The 5 bitters from center to right are from the collection of Rick Simi, a amber variant 1 Lacour's Sarsapariphere Bitters, a yellow-amber variant 3 Lacour's, a dark amber variant 2 Rosenbaums Bitters N. B. Jacobs & Co San Francisco, a amber A T & Co bitters, and a amber Wormser Bros' San Francisco (whiskey bitters).

More Western Bitters displays at the Downieville Antique Bottle Show

Another display of western bitters (L to R), a green variant 1 Cassin's Grape Brandy Bitters, a blue V. Squarza bitters, a yellow-amber G. A. Simon's Medicated Aromatic Bitters, a green variant 1 Lacour's Sarsapariphere Bitters and a variant 1 Rosenbaums Bitters N.B. Jacobs & Co San Francisco.

Western Bitters displayed at the Downieville Antique Bottle Show

Displayed in this beautiful bottle case were 10 bitters bottles by Ken Edward and Jerry Forbes. The first 5 bitters on the left are from the collection of Ken Edward, they are (L to R), a green variant 1 Lacour's Sarsapariphere Bitters, a yellow-olive Dr. Henley's Wild Grape Root IXL Bitters (square), a green E. G. Lyons Manufacturer SanFco, a dark green Catawba Wine Bitters and a green Cundurango (bitters).
The next 5 bitters are from the collection of Jerry Forbes (R to L), a green variant 1 Dr. Renz's Herb Bitters, a green Dr. J. Hostetter's Stomach Bitters, a yellow-olive T. M. bitters, a amber Dr. Wonser's U.S.A. Indian Root Bitters and a green variant 3 Dr. Henley's Wild Grape Root IXL Bitters (cylinder).

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What's the story behind this ad?

This bitters advertisement appeared in the San Francisco Alta California newspaper on November 21st, 1868. It is a relatively scarce labeled only western bitters product, that doesn't really give very much information, however the story that unfolds behind how this product came about is interesting.
In 1860 the Sainsevain Bros had a depot for their wines at 195 Montgomery St, S.F. Two individuals name Felix Mercado and Firmin Seully approached Pierre Sainsevain with a proposal to help sell more of his wines, if they were allowed to market a wine bitters made from his wines. In March of 1861 they marketed a California Wine Bitters under the name Sainsevain's which they received exclusive rights to the use of the name. They also employed G.A. Simon who had 17 years of wine & wine bitters experience to concoct this product. Under a dispute as to who was the inventor of Sainsevain's California Wine Bitters, Simon left their employ in 1863 and marketed his own California Wine Bitters under his name. Mercado & Seully continued to market their wine bitters until Pierre Sainsevain began to market his own California Wine Bitters in San Jose, Ca. Mercado & Seully then placed their own name upon this California Wine Bitters and got Dominico (D.) Ghiradelli to manufacture their product. In February 1868 Mercado & Seully dissolved their partnership and Mercado & Co was formed in October and continued at the same address. Now with Dr. Henley's IXL Bitters becoming a strong competitor in the growing bitters market, Felix Mercado tried to capitalize on L. Gross's marketing success by offering the bitters product above.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Forest City, Sierra County California

Accounts of the beginnings of Forest City vary. One account credits a group of sailors discovering gold at the site of Forest City in the summer of 1852. Another account is that a prospector by the name of Savage was the first to mine at the forks of Oregon Creek sometime during 1850. Rich placer deposits in the Forest City area drew hundreds of miners and dozens of merchants to this rapidly growing town. In 1853 the population of the town was over four hundred and by the end of 1854 had reached over one thousand residents. More than fifteen operating mines fueled the incredible growth of this region. By the summer of 1852 Forest City boosted seven general stores, four clothing stores, one tin shop, five hotels, two livery stables, two meat markets, four blacksmith shops and five or six carpenter shops.

Forest City reached the height of its growth in 1857 and received a post office for its population of well over fifteen hundred residents. Starting sometime in 1858 the placer deposits of the area were becoming exhausted and Forest City began to decline. In March of 1858 almost the whole town was destroyed by fire and the loss was estimated at over $150,000, an extreme amount of money during that time. Town rebuilt but by 1862 the town was in a downward spiral and The Mountain Messenger of September 1862 reports “Few of the claims here are paying over wages
and expenses”. And the issue of July 4th 1863, states “This once rich and flourishing camp is just going to decay. Its citizens are leaving almost daily for new mines”.
In August of 1864 another fire destroyed the Brewery and several other buildings in the commercial section of town and on June 17, 1865 Forest City was once again visited by fire. This fire destroyed all of the business section of town and several of the surrounding homes scattering miners and merchants to other promising areas.
Forest City’s decline during the 1860’s came to an end in December of 1869 when The Redding Company struck rich placer gravel while driving a tunnel under Bald Mountain. This was the beginning of Forest City’s transition from a declining gold rush settlement to a fully fledged company town. The Bald Mountain Mine was a fabulous gold producer and during the 1870 – 1890 period Forest City grew and prospered.

In February of 1883 the town was once again consumed by fire and over eighty buildings were destroyed by the flames with an estimated loss to the town of over $200,000. This tough town once again rebuilt and by August of the same year almost all of the buildings lost to the fire were replaced with new structures.
Through the 1880’s and into the late 1890’s Forest City’s economy was tied to the Bald Mountain Mine. Although the Bald Mountain’s production wasn’t as spectacular during the 1880 – 1890 period, as it was during the early 1870’s, the mine was a steady producer of gold and employed at different times between sixty and 120 men. It is believed that during the operation of the Bald Mountain close to three million dollars worth of gold was recovered from the workings of the ancient river channel.

Today only a handful of people reside at Forest City. Several important structures and private homes still stand and include the old Schoolhouse, a dry goods store and the Forest City Dance Hall. The Dance Hall, built after the fire of 1883, now houses a museum under the stewardship of the Forest City Historical Association.

This post was taken from the new book "Gold Rush Camps and Bottles of Sierra County" to be released at the Downieville Bottle Show on Saturday September 12th. See you in Downieville!