Saturday, February 27, 2010

Yerba Buena Bitters

Alright my bottle chums, its time to pay tribute to another great western bitters thats always over looked. The Yerba Buena Bitters. The longest produced western bitters known, from 1870-1920. The early ones have the famous curved R's and come in some wild colors.

Homer Williams and Alfred Wright established a veterinary and medicine business in San Francisco in 1869. They purchased the formula for a new product they thought would be a great seller. The formula was purchased from a S.F. doctor and it wasn't long before the two began producing their own "Good Herb" or Yerba Buena Bitters. In 1880, after 10 years or so, The Paul O. Burn Wine Company of San Jose purchased the rights to the now famous Yerba Buena Bitters. They continued to sell it quite successfully for the next 27 years, until prohibition finally forced them to stop making it.

"California Kid"

Special thanks to the "California Kid" for this post

Paper Label Western Bitters

Looking through some books, amazed at how many different Western Paper Label Bitters there are. Anybody have any of these, the Scarce ones that is? How about some pics and info. The old labels have such Awesome Art Work. DB

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Renz's Not on Ebay...

I was a bit surprised that the variant 3 Renz's Herb Bitters did not see more interest when it ran on Ebay recently. Western bitters are very desirable, and they are rarely available without some condition issues, and the amber example was problem free. Maybe the color held it back in overal appeal, but it seemed to be pretty affordable at hammer time.

Here is a variant #1 with the small lettering, and in a pretty green color. This one dates to the late 1860s I believe, and has some nice character. These do not seem to come up for sale very often either, and I would be interested to see what a colored example in fine condition would bring if offered (which this one will not), in this economy.

On another note, it seems like there is a bit of hostility, or jealousy, or anger in some posts. I am all for expressing one's views, but the internet allows people to hide their identities at the same time they express occasional negative viewpoints, and even verbally attack, and insult people. I believe that everyone who comments or posts on this site should have their name in the post, or at least register. I appreciate most collectors efforts to offer their knowledge, as well at the countless hours of research to enlighten us about the beautiful glass we love. If posts continue to slam, or insult others, I will just turn to another venue, and not tune in at all. No big loss for most, but I hope there can be a positive energy here.

"Can't we all just get along? :)

Dale Mlasko

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Better Return Those Pop Bottles

Checked Your Bottom Lately?

Since Rick started this subject, here is another ad I researched for a soda water bottle collector, this gives you a better understanding of how this came about.

A while back I wrote a post titled “The Blue Soda Hole”. Basically a couple of hombres and I dug a small gold rush pit late one afternoon and recovered several blue sodas with iron pontil bases. When we finished the pit it was getting dark and I snapped a couple of pictures to possibly use in a post for this blog. When I posted the pictures on the blog I referred to the blue sodas as having “red iron pontils” – That was before I really examined one of the bottles.
After giving one of the Mineral Waters a nice warm bath I noticed that it didn’t have a red iron pontil after all. What it had was red paint over the iron pontil..... Very interesting I thought and left it at that.

A few days, or weeks, or it could have been longer or sooner (I have a time space thing happening as I get older) I mentioned the painted bottom sodas to Warren in a casual conversation. Of course Warren had seen sodas with painted bottoms, and in fact, knew why the bottoms were painted (which didn’t surprise me one little bit).

It seems that while doing research for his upcoming book Warren ran across an ad for Phil Caduc telling the public to take notice that his genuine Napa Soda had the bottoms of the bottles “painted white”. What I thought Caduc was really saying was that all those white painted soda bottles belonged to him and he sure as heck wanted them back after you had polished off the contents. And this got me to thinking.......

.............Oh boy another mystery to try and unravel, might as well add it to the date and time of the western curved “R”, the Fish’s Infallible western or eastern brain twister, the Mlasko T*M western star and Dale’s maybe it just might be possible that the Chalmer’s Catawba Wine Bitters is a 25th anniversary of the discovery of gold in California bottle theory. Wow..... Its no wonder I have this time – space thing happening.

Warren also mentioned that he had seen other bottles with different colors painted on the bottoms and possibly the reason for the different colors were the bottles belonged to different merchants.

Here we go.....

Three red bottom sodas (and three other broken examples) recovered from the same gold rush era stage stop privy, all possibly purchased from the same merchant somewhere along the stage route who is probably, to this day, still mad about not getting his bottles back! ....Makes sense to this old geezer

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Amber Renz on Ebay

An example of the third variant of the Dr. Renz's Herb Bitters with the curved R's in an amber coloration realized $373 on ebay last week. One of the few desirable western bitters that has been listed on the bay in the last several months didn't come near what I thought it would bring.

It seems like at the present time listing bottles on ebay is a crap shoot. On any given day the same bottle can bring a different price at auction. Why is this? Heck, if I knew that I could retire a wealthy man.

One thing is for sure, the winning bidder has a very desirable western bitters for a very reasonable price.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dr. Boerhaave's Stomach Bitters

The number of western made 1860's decade bitters bottles can almost be counted on both hands (aproximately 13 embossed on glass brands). Out of almost 100 brands manufactured for the western market, this is a pretty exclusive group. Most collectors would be pretty excited to have an example from this group.

Of those 13 brands of bitters bottles, approximately 4 are known in a square shaped container. This Boerhaave's example is in company with the Rosenbaums Bitters, Alex Von Humboldts Bitters and the G. A. Simon's Bitters as the only square shaped bitters made during the 1860's, (there are of course the Dr. Renz's Bitters and the E. G. Lyon's bottle but these continued into the 1870's decade).

Now that is an exclusive group! This particular example has some wonderful glass characteristics, the surface of the glass is whittled, which is not normally seen on these bottles, the old amber coloration varies in shades from the bottom half of the bottle being darker while the upper half is much lighter, with the neck and top being a darker shade again due to glass thickness. The embossing is quite bold, with the letters themselves being gloppy in appearance (my term used to describe the peaks and valleys of the letters due to the glass not forming evenly in the cavaties). There are currently 11 examples in western collections, 4 are a dark green coloration, 5 are various shades of amber, 1 is a light green color and 1 is a yellow olive coloration.

The firm of Siegfried Wertheimber and Louis Waterman were the manufacturers and proprietors of this bitters. It was first advertised on March 7th, 1868 with the principle depot being at 311 Commercial St, San Francisco, by June of 1868 the firm was advertising this product from their 219 Commercial St, S. F. address. Dr. Boerhaave's Bitters was also being advertised thru the Portland Morning Oregonian newspaper from May 15th, 1868 thru January 28th, 1869, Millard and Van Schuyver were the agents for Oregon. The Los Angeles Star newspaper ran an advertisement for the Boerhaave's Bitters placed by a local druggist for several mos. in 1868 as well.

Wertheimber & Waterman also marketed a cordial called The Splendid and another bitters called Boonekamp and Maag-Bitters, these two products continued to be advertised without the Boerhaave's bitters throughout 1869 in a Sacramento newspaper. At the 1868 San Francisco Mechanics Institute Fair, Wertheimber & Waterman displayed two kegs of their Boonekamp and Maag-Bitters along with a case of their Dr. Boerhaave's Stomach Bitters.

In a notice placed in the San Francisco Daily Examiner newspaper, the firm of Wertheimber & Waterman dissolved their partnership on September 25th, 1869. Siegfried Wertheimber having sold his entire interest in the business to Phillip Wertheimber and the firm continued as before under the name of Wertheimber & Waterman. [see post of September 21, 2009 for additional information on Dr. Boerhaave's Bitters.]

Dr. Henry's World's Tonic & Blood Purifyer

This 9" knife edge tonic/ bitters is very rare. It actually comes in two different molds, with one being more oval in shape with a tapered neck, and this mold, with a true knife edge shape, and a straight neck. Both have crudely applied top, and usually come in a turquoise aqua coloration which is very attractive. This product is related to the Dr. Henry's Sarsaparilla, and the Dr. Henry's Botanic Preparations. This one is interesting in that "purifier" is spelled incorrectly "purifyer". I know of about 10 of these in Western collections, with the majority being dug in California and Oregon. Has anyone heard of them being found elsewhere? It somewhat resembles the Bitter Witch in shape and size. I wonder if they were competitors? Obviously the Bitter Witch was more successful, as there are certainly more of them around. These come in some terrific deep colors, and usually are quite crude.

The Munster House Dig

It was a Superbowl Sunday....a time most Americans reserve for kicking back on the sofa while enjoying an ice cold soda or beer, the newest witty commercials, and taking-in the game. And I figured that's what I'd resort to doing, as I normally have in the past. After all I didn't want to miss two good quarterbacks go head-to-head, see good food go uneaten, and bail out on "The Who's" half-time rock & roll set!

But the haunted Munster House was whispering to us. My digging partner Dave G. and I had wanted to dig this freakish-looking Southern California dwelling for years, and we knew the perfect opportunity to dig it had arrived!

Check out the unique Mansard-style roof. I would guess this house to date early 1880's. The architecture seems to have an oriental influence:
As seen on our 1891 insurance maps, there was also a small pioneer-style or small carriage house located at the rear property-line (facing from the other street at a 90% angle).

The maps showed a total of 3 shared-hole locations for the Munster House, the blue pioneer dwelling, and a later house that moved-in a few years later. After making some drill holes (about the size of a quarter) where the outhouse map-box was, we probed and crunched on glass with the 4-footer. Then the hole decided to swallow the 6 foot probe too. So we brought in the 8 foot probe and POW, another layer of glass all the way to the handle....We knew we were in for a bomber pit. So Dave quickly fired up his new concrete slicing Skill-saw and cut out the slab of concrete which covered the old privy pit.

About 3 feet into the hole, a few late bottles and shards of glass so far. I was able to locate each wall of the outhouse with some help from the old redwood lined walls.

We pried loose this sunken panel, square-design pint sized bitters container around the 8 foot level. It reads: LASHS'S KIDNEY AND LIVER BITTERS reverse THE BEST CATHARTIC AND BLOOD PURIFIER. The bottle is fashioned with a tooled-finish top and records tell us it was manufactured from, 1884-1893. It is pictured in Jeff Wichmann's Western Bitters book (pg. 76)

After unearthing the Lash's Bitters we knew the hole was turning back a page with its age. We also knew the potential for more bitters was quite possible too. I thought I might have been working on digging out a green Henley's IXL Bitters for a minute, but it turned out to be a large wine. Oh well, digging an embossed bitters bottle is really tough, tougher than finding an old embossed whiskey container, and those are challenging enough! At the end of the day we were a bit disappointed that the Lash's was the only "decent" bottle to come out. The rest of the stuff was mostly unembossed, national brands, or broken. But any dig that produces a decent + bitters bottle is a great day to be a digger, even on a Superbowl Sunday!

The concrete repair job that we promised the very cool home-owners we would do:

In need of a washing:

After a soap-sud and luke-warm H2O bath:

We were also able to dig the M.E. Church hole across the alley this past weekend. A pretty decent hole overall. More digs to follow....

All for now,

~J.F. Cutter

Friday, February 19, 2010

Gold Rush Doctors McDonald & Levy

While we are on the subject of gold rush era bottles thought I might relate a little information about another couple of pioneer merchants.

In 1849, a year after gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill; Richard McDonald opened a drug store at 143 J Street in Sacramento California. McDonald’s first drug store was operated from a wood and tent structure and sometime in 1852 he took as a partner a Mr. Levy.

Sometime in 1853 the partners started a traveling drug store to supply remote mining camps with medicinal supplies. McDonald and Levy’s idea of taking a wagon load of medicine and drugs to the miners was not revolutionary but their timing was perfect, few if any early mining camps at that time had a drug store or a place to buy medicine.

It is believed that Levy ran the medicine show (or traveling drug store) while Mc Donald was in charge of the store on J Street in Sacramento. Levy took his wagon from the placer diggings in the Mother Lode foothills all the way up into the northern mines area of the Sierra Nevada Mountains peddling the wagons nostrums’.

The traveling drug store was a huge success and by 1853 The Miners Drug Store of Sacramento was firmly established. Levy left the partnership around 1854 and quite possibly the embossed bottle that they are responsible for was made for only one year

By early 1860 the R.H. McDonald Co. was primarily a wholesale drug business with a branch office in San Francisco and an agent for William T. Cutter Whisky. One of McDonald’s best selling products was J. Walker’s Vinegar Bitters and was responsible for the great success of his company. McDonald continued in the wholesale drug business until his death in Montreal Canada in 1903.

The Compound Fluid Extract of Manzanita bottle produced by McDonald and Levy is believed to have contained a remedy for the rash from poison oak or ivy. I have no concrete proof that the Manzanita product was a cure for poison oak.

Back in 1993 two undamaged examples of the Manzanita bottle were recovered from the early gold rush settlement of American Hill. Another example of the Extract of Manzanita was discovered in the Forest City area in the late 1990’s and later sold at a Glassworks Auction.

Both American Hill and Forest City are located near the Henness Pass Road, an early wagon road used to reach the gold rush camps in western and southern Sierra County. The discovery of these bottles near a major gold rush road and the abundance of poison oak in that vicinity lead me to speculate that old Doc Levy’s traveling medicine show quite possibly visited the Southern Sierra County area during gold rush times.


While going through some information that I had squirreled away for my gold rush book I ran across some photo’s of this Hutchings Dyspepsia Bitters. This bottle was recovered from a long gone gold rush town in Northern Sierra County by AH, a long time digger and collector from Nevada City. I don’t recall ever hearing of another Hutchings being found here in Sierra County.

The Hutchings is a rectangular shaped bottle that comes in aqua colored glass with an open pontil base. These bottles are pretty early and date from the beginning 1850’s and are considered rare.

Dyspepsia was as common a medical condition in the 1850’s as it is today. Known as upset stomach or indigestion it is characterized by chronic or recurrent pain in the upper abdomen and feeling full earlier than expected when eating. Almost every bitters manufacturer claimed that their product would cure dyspepsia and several used the actual word dyspe
psia as part of the name of their product.

Although this product was not manufactured on the west coast evidence indicates that it was distributed here in the Sierra’s during the California gold rush.
Anybody out there discovered any other Hutchings here in Northern California?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Politics of Acquisition

Ever wonder why that certain bottle, you just have to have, keeps winding up in someone else’s collection?
How come the fellow that collects the same category as you keeps putting keepers on his shelf while you have to settle for traders or bottles out of your category?
Have you ever found out a couple days, or even a couple of hours after a bottle you really needed was sold to someone you know without it being offered to you?
Been feeling like a bridesmaid and not a bride?

Well... don’t get all bent out of shape... You’re just a victim of “The Politics of Acquisition”
Yea, I know you’re thinking right now, has the old timer gone off his rocker. What the heck is he talking about?
We all know what the definition of politics used to be... it meant policy. That was then, now politics means money. You know... greenbacks, frog skins, the silver pick and whatever else you want to call it. And in the bottle world money talks and just being chummy or late on the draw with a potential seller walks!

Most collectors collect within certain limited self imposed guidelines. Western glob top whiskies, square western bitters, local medicines, colored soda’s, a mix of categories etc. and are content to pursue the bottles within those guidelines. Other collectors seem to want em’ all. These guys that “just have to have everything” are the driving force behind the price of mid range to high end bottles. More often than not, these collectors are willing to pay more for a bottle then other collectors.

When you consistently pay more for an item than other collectors you become a favored buyer or what us mountain folks would call “A TARGET”. A “favored buyer” always gets offered a bottle first... heck he’s the guy that’s likely to pay the most for the item and always gets the chance to pull the trigger first. The budget conscience collector, or guy that can’t make up his mind in a split second, always winds up at the bottom of the acquisition food chain.

What’s the cure for the favored buyer syndrome? You could step up and let the bottle community know you’re willing to pay more for certain bottles then the average collector. . We have seen these advertisements forever... “Paying top dollar”...”Willing to over pay for a particular bottle” and so on and so forth.

When it comes to collecting the more desirable bottles, and shoveling out more than an item is worth just to own it, I always think about what my amigo from Oregon says: “If you can’t run with the big dogs – stay on the porch with the pups”
For me, the view from up here on the porch is pretty nice!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Coming This Weekend !!!


The Oregon Bottle Colletors Assoc. Annual Winter Show & Sale

(9 AM to 3 PM, early buyers Friday 1 to 6 PM), at the American Legion Hall, 3rd & Main Street, Aurora, OR. Info: JIM DENNIS, PH: (541) 467-2760 or email:

Support your local bottle show!

Chalmers Catawba Wine Bitters

The Chalmer's Catawba Wine Bitters has an incredible history in the West. It is the only true "historical" or commemorative bottle as it celebrates the most significant event in Western U.S. history, the California Gold Rush. Gold was discovered in Coloma California at Sutters old Mill in 1848, and this bottle clearly depicts this site in glass. Blown in 1873, the majority of these bottles were shipped to Nevada, and supposedly to Utah. I have never heard of so much as a shard of a Chalmer's dug in Utah. If anyone has, please let me know. There are approx. 12-15 examples of this bottle known in any condition.

Two Chalmer's have changed hands recently, one privately for an undisclosed amount and a beautiful example featured in American Bottle Auction # 49. It was reported that another Chalmer's in a rich aqua coloration was being offered at the Anderson Bottle Show last month.

It is interesting that three of the 12-15 examples of the Chalmer's, or about 25% - 35% of the known examples of this bottle, have been for sale in the last month..... That would be like 10,000 Hostetter's being for sale at once... Go figure....

Thanks to Oregon Trail Bottles & American Bottle Auctions for the info & pictures

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Western Green Square & Two Whiskey Friends!?!?

We may need to pick a panel of jurors, do some more research, deliberate for awhile, and then do our best to make an educated guess if these old glass containers are innocent or guilty of being blown IN the OLD WEST OR FOR the OLD WEST....

I'm about 80% sure the AT Green unembossed Square is Western...
Not sure on the origin of manufacture for the Whiskey 1/6th and 1/7th cylinders....I'm about 50/50 on whether they are Eastern blown or Western blown....

Any thoughts??

I may need to take some better close up pics later this week.

A Lash from the Past....

The SuperBowl/Decent Hole Sunday Dig....

Story coming soon (sometime later this week, after the repair job is complete)!

Any reports from Vegas?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Do you Kiss and Tell?

Over on the whiskey blog there's a running dialog concerning the pro's and con's of mentioning just what the value of the bottle being spotlighted in the post is.
There is no doubt that bottle values are a major concern to collectors. Western Whiskey guru John Thomas used to say "If you own a particular bottle it is worth a lot more than if you don't own it". I have found that statement to be all too true.

On the whiskey site one blogger commented " I enjoy this blog greatly and visit quite frequently, but I do think avoiding posts that discuss or mention any dollar value will benefit both diggers and collectors in the long run. The posts on this site should be limited to history, digging reports, and recent finds/acquisitions". I think that's probably a valid and realistic way, if your a digger, to look at what is now a "big pain in the butt"; Too much readily available information to folks that haven't "paid their dues" or "put in the time" in the hobby to learn the values of what we collect.

Case in point:
The western auction after the big dig in S.F. featured a rare cone shaped bitters. The price that bottle brought was broadcast all over the world, featured on the nighly news and written up in antique papers by the auction house that sold the bottle.

I live in a backwater little town up in the Sierra's and during that time period was actively digging the townsite. It wasn't a week after the "Big Dig" auction was over that I started getting turned down on digging permissions. Heck, I knew every person in town and never had a problem getting permission to dig before the auction. I asked a couple of the firm "No's" what was going on and was told by one of the owners "If anyone is going to dig one of those $00,000 bottles in my yard it's going to be me!" The other owners suddenly just "didn't want anymore digging on their property". Now that they knew that "those dirty old bottles" were worth something, they wouldn't be giving them away anymore.

Getting back to the blogger's comment, concerning values, and after spending some time thinking about this whole situation I have come to the conclusion that..... When I was a young man I didn't kiss and tell...... and I'm certainly too old to start now!

Monday, February 8, 2010

A bouncing baby boy

Little Johnnie is healthy as a horse, and weighs about as much. A new addition to the family, this bouncing baby boy measures 9 1/4" long and weighs in at nearly two hefty pounds; proof that folks here in late 1850's J'ville are made of stout stock! Having been sired on iron slag and potash, he emerged from his tight and shallow watery confines squeaky clean and only required a quick toweling off.  His personality is immediately evident, and his daddy is one proud papa~

Western Dug Hostetters...

I thought I would show a recent aquisition. This is a 9 1/2" size Hostetters is a nice dark green. It has paper thin glass and is as light as a feather. What is remarkable to me is it was dug at 20' in depth completely surrounded by bricks which had to have fallen 20' themselves. The un named digger found this example in a Northwestern state, in a town known for 20' and deeper privies. The bottle does not have so much as a scratch on it, and while there are zillions of Hostetters out there, this is a true survivor from the late 1850s or EARLY 1860s.

Rowler's (Roller's) Infallible Rheumatism Medicine and Klink's Counterfeit

It seems like every successful bitters or medicine product that I research has some sort of skeleton in its closet. Take for instance the Rowler’s Rheumatism Medicine Prepared by Dr. J.R. Boyce of Sacramento City. J.R. Boyce, located at the corner of K and Second Street, claimed to have bought the recipe for the rheumatism medicine from Charles Roller sometime in the late 1850’s. Roller claims that “the recipe was given to me by a friend in this country” Charles F. Klink, a druggist also from Sacramento, approached Charles Roller with a proposition to manufacturer Roller’s rheumatism medicine and split the profits from the sale of the product with Roller. Roller declined the proposition and Klink began informing the public that he (Klink) had the original recipe that Roller had bought or brought from New Orleans.

At about the same time as the Klink allegations (during the summer of 1861) Boyce comes out with the embossed Rowler’s bottle and states in a Sacramento Daily Union advertisement “to guard against spurious and counterfeit medicine, you will please observe that the written signature of Jas. R. Boyce, M.D, appears on each label, and that the name of the medicine is blown in the bottle".
Dr. Boyce was a larger than life character, well respected and besides pushing the Rowler's product practiced medicine in Sacramento. While walking on the corner of Sixth & K Street one day with John Cassidy a man named William Tierney discharged a revolver at Cassidy. The ball struck Boyce in the back and passed entirely through his body. Cassidy immediately ran down K Street and Tierney followed behind still firing at him. In all, three shots were fired and after the second shot Cassidy cried out, I'm shot! I'm shot!. The ball passed through his clothing, grazing his skin. but did no injury. Boyce, on the other hand, was considered in critical condition by his attending physicians. As it turns out Cassidy was accused of improper intimacy with Tierney's wife and Tierney had been "gunning" for Cassidy. (They don't call it the wild west for no reason)
Dr. Boyce, although seriously injured, steadily improved and finally overcame his injury's.

The Rowler's comes with a pontil and also a smooth base variant. These bottles were manufactured starting in 1861 are are way to early to be made in the West. Because of Dr. Boyce and Sacramento being embossed in the glass and all examples, that I know of, were dug in the west, most collectors consider them western. These bottles are pretty rare and I have a report of one intact example unearthed in the Nevada City area in the early 1990's.

I much as I hate counterfeiters, bogus products and imitations you have to thank the perpetrators of these frauds......... without them we probably wouldn't have any embossed bottles!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Help !

Warren & I are working on a future article on the Fish's Infallible Hair Restorative and need a picture of the "western" flared lip rectangular B.F. Fish bottle. Any of you hombres out there holding one? Can you shoot us a picture? Any contribution will be acknowledged in the upcoming article. email either Rick or Warren or

This is the so called"eastern" variant with the double collar top

Thanks to our "southern connection"
Lance W. for this Fish

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Wow, here’s a bottle that has always intrigued me. Just the name alone is strange, CONNELL’S BRAHMINICAL MOONPLANT EAST INDIAN REMEDIES, and a pair of feet with stars surrounding them about takes the cake as far as quirky embossing goes in my book. And how about the lettering font on this bottle.

The R in “BRAHMINICAL” is your basic straight leg R, however, the R in “REMEDIES” and “TRADEMARK” are the curved leg R associated with western glass houses. I believe the mold for this bottle was reworked and the “EAST INDIAN REMEDIES” and “TRADEMARK” added at a later date, however, I do not have any concrete proof that this was the case.

Was this a bitters, well it certainly was supposed to cure the same ailments as a bitters, I don’t think so but it certainly is an interesting bottle. The definition of BRAHMINICAL is; A member of a cultural and social elite, especially of that formed by descendants of old New England families. Trying to find the definition of MOONPLANT led me to moonflower which is defined as: Any of several unrelated vines which bloom at night. Even the name of this product has me baffled; was it an extract of some sort of climbing vine that was intended to be used by wealthy Boston socialites in the moonlight?

Got me.......

I have heard that there are two variants of this bottle, one an eastern made product and the other western manufactured. What’s the difference? Got me......

The earliest and one of the only advertisements that I could find for the Moonplant was listed in the May 1873 Sacramento Daily Union and was repeated for a week or so, that’s it.
Thanks to Jeff Wichmann for the pictures

An "Aqua" Henleys...

I hope everyone is not growing tired of my Henley's posts. They are just so darn pretty, and typify Western glass to me. This example was dug in a secret location, by a very accomplished digger who's privacy shall be respected for various reasons. This is the second version of the IXL, and is in a deeper turquoise,aqua, tealish, bluish green, seafoam, fire aqua coloration. it came out of the ground this way, and is very thin fragile glass. I cannot pass up an IXL in a nice color, but the recent prices for them have sure slowed down the growth of my IXL aquisitions. I wonder how many colors are really known? Since there are several hundred examples out there, there are likely hundreds of different colors. I have never dug an intact IXL of any variant, but someone sure has!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Swan Brewery

The previous post of Rick's showed Swan Brewery exhibiting it's products at the September 1871 State Fair. I found this quite interesting since my research shows the Swan Brewery up for auction on March 31st, 1871. Notice that book accounts are due to Decker & Wilmot. I found an article that showed the trademark registration for Swan Brewery in 1876, unfortunately I sent that information to Tom Jacobs and didn't keep it. This looks like a good research article that maybe John O'Neill could pursue.

Lofty Company

The following western bitters manufacturers were mentioned during the 18th Annual State Fair in September of 1871 for these products:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Glass bottle industry takes a step backwards.

Here is an interesting article that was published in the Los Angeles Herald newspaper in 1906. Ironically while the eastern glasshouses were reverting back to hand blown bottles by glassblowers. The west was installing semi-automatic glass blowing equipment. In an article in the San Francisco Call newspaper in 1908, the Pacific Coast Glass Works was beginning to use glass blowing machines for making fruit jars. The glassblowers were still being utilized and their pay now was fifty dollars a week! Three glassblowers generally work together with two rolling and blowing and the third trimming the necks of the bottles. Two hundred dozen is a days work, occupying about nine hours. Each blows an hour and handles the machine half an hour.
Inserting the blowpipe into the molten glass, the blower rolls upon it a sufficient amount to blow their bottle. They must guess accurately how much they need. In bottles weighing under 8 ounces, they are allowed a variation of half an ounce; between 8 and 13 ounces, one ounce; between 13 and 24 ounces, two ounces. All bottles which do not conform to the weight test or are not perfectly blown are thrown out on them, so they become very expert!
Now to give you a comparison of the glassblowers work at SFGW in 1867 or 41yrs earlier. I have 4 examples of the Cassin's Grape Brandy Bitters bottle. Two examples weigh 17 ounces, one weighs 21 ounces and the other weighs 27 ounces! Quite a descrepancy among the four examples.
Around 1970 a glassblower who was 90 something was interviewed and said that PCGW was still blowing bottles by hand in 1916.
Bitters produced by this glass works are later variant Lash's Kidney and Liver Bitters, Lash's Liver Bitters, Star Kidney and Liver Bitters, Wait's Kidney and Liver Bitters, Marshall's Bitters, Johnson's Pure Herb Tonic Sure Cure For All Malerial Diseases, Toneco Appetizer and Tonic Bitters, etc.

Bitters on Ebay

Over yonder on the Western Globtop Whiskey blog they have been blowing off about the selection of western fifths available on ebay. Selection - heck, there's 4 bottles available to bid on for the applied top crowd, that's it.
Looking to buy some bottles..... Just type in BITTERS in the search tab under the heading of bottles & insulators (antique pre 1900) on your ebay page and up pops:

13 Hostetter's in various shades of brown

3 Lash's Kidney & Liver Bitters

1 Yerba Buena

1 California Fig Bitters

1 Pond's

2 Walker's Vinegar Bitters

1 Damiana Bitters

and no less than 13 of those western distributed Drakes Plantation Bitters......

Now that's selection !!!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Renz Christmas Advertisement

John Renz marketed his fathers recipe for a herb bitters very aggressively. Almost daily advertisements in Sacramento and San Francisco newspapers was not uncommon for Renz.

In the 1874 ad to the right he claims that his bitters are sold in every Grocery, Liquor Store and Drug Store within a thousand miles of San Francisco.

Shouldn't we be digging his bottles from Montana in the east, to Mexico in the south and British Columbia in the north. I don't recall hearing of anyone digging a Renz east of Nevada or north of Oregon.

Was old John Renz pulling the public leg about his distribution network or are there piles of Renz's buried throughout the west?

Western Eye Opener's

Speaking of Henley's...........

So you thought Dr. Henley was the first merchant to capitalize on the well used phrase "Eye Opener" did you.... Then take a look at the October 1861 advertisement for "Oldner's Delta Eye Opener". Distilled from fruits in the island of Jamaica---Mmm.. Yummy!

Oldner's? Hmm.. where have I heard that name before? Was it on an 1860's square bottle? Never the less...

Oldner pretty much had the market covered with his Ladies Holland Gin Tonic, Old Miner's Protection Whiskey and the Old Virginia Mint Julep.

The first mentioned of Dr. Henley's Eye Opener, that I have found, is in a report on the 18th California State Fair in September of
1872. "Dr. Henley of San Francisco submits his Eye Opener and Wild Cherry Tonic". Wild Cherry Tonic? Where the heck is that embossed bottle, Henley embossed darn near everything he marketed. Didn't he?

Delta Eye Opener, Dr. Henley's Wild Cherry Tonic, Old Miner's Protection Whiskey and a Holland Gin Tonic....... If only they were in embossed bottles.