Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Origin of the E.G. LYONS & CO MANUFACTURERS SAN Fco bottle

I've been researching this particular bottle as I was fascinated with what type of product was being marketed in it. The only story we collectors/diggers were really ever told was printed in the Western Bitters book by Bill Wilson. After my extensive research into early western bitters quite a few inconsistencies began showing up on many of the different bitters written about.
The above information along with other research tells of an interesting story. The ad immediately above the text is the earliest found for the E. G. LYONS & CO, which began by being the successors to the Crevolin & Co, with this advertisement being placed in the S. F. Alta California paper on January 7th, 1865, and ran for 1 month in duration, the firm was located at 510 Jackson St, S.F. Could these square embossed bottles have been made this early? Most likely not by the SFGW, but it quite possibly could have been by PGW, however there is no evidence to be able to prove this.
The middle ad was placed on October 14th, 1865 and ran until January 20th, 1866 in the Sonora Union Democrat paper. This advertisement is very interesting as it shows they were carrying quite a few well known brand bitters. The California Wine Bitters referred to I believe is not Sainsevain's brand but I believe M. Kellers brand. Mercado & Seully who first marketed the Sainsevain's California Wine Bitters with the aid of G. A. Simon began marketing this product around 1860. When Simon left in 1863 from their employ, and marketed his own California Wine Bitters in 1864, Mercado & Seully gave the manufacturing rights of their bitters to D. Ghirardelli.
The Sainsevain Bros began to market their own version of Wine Bitters with their name on it, and gave exclusive rights to manufacture and sell Sainsevain's Wine Bitters to E. G. LYONS & CO. on January 28th, 1874, see the top advertisement. By now Lyons had expanded to 506 & 508 Jackson St.
The known example of this square Lyons bottle with a partial Sainsevain's label would seem to put the bottle's age a little newer than had been previously stated. I have seen and examined several examples of the Lyons bottle and they range from being quite crude in appearance to being quite neatly made. How long in production was this bottle is uncertain. When did it begin is also unknown, but one piece of evidence we seem to have, is a photo of a bottle that very much seems to resemble this E. G. LYONS square in an exhibit of the PGW display at the 1869 S. F. Mechanics Institute Fair. My belief is that this bottle was indeed made at this glassworks.


  1. Great research article Warren in shedding some light on this mysterious bottle. Now something else to add to the story to help date this bottle. We recently excavated a privy that contained material no later than 1869 at best. The bulk of the bottles in the heaviest part of the use layer dated mid to late 60s. Included in mix of busted criers were: three green Dr. Boerhaave's, two very crude green E.G. Lyon's, four amber Rosenbaum's, two yellow G.A. Simon's and one green IXL. There's no doubt in my mind that the Lyon's bottles in this pit were used and tossed around 1866-68 along with the others.

    On the flip side, several years back I dug another pit that contained mid 1870s material at the earliest with not even a trace 60s. In the bottom of this hole mixed in with a bunch of blah Hostetter's was the plainest Lyon's bottle I'd even seen being straight amber, a somewhat weak strike and no crudity what-so-ever. This bottle had zero wear on the base indicating to me that it was used and tossed shortly after being purchased. It's also interesting to note that both of the pits these bottles came from were strong on the bitters so indeed it's likely this was a bitters bottle. The excavation of these two pits would strongly suggest that these bottles were in use for about a 10 year period from about 1867 to 1876.

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  3. 1860s for sure,a whole dr.adolfas open pontiled was a foot away, and 10 ft higher up was a whole green old sacham with two henleys that had circles around the ixl so that was 1870s on top and 1860 for the pontiled sf med,then mide to later 1860s for the crude eglyons.

  4. I have a bottle of E. g. Lyon & Saas Co. Whiskey, that I found in an antique sale. The seal reads the Owl Drug Co. And has a hand written signature on it. I am looking for someone to authenticate it for me. It has the original State of California tax stamp still on it. Please email me at tys5683@Gmail.com. Thank you