Wednesday, February 17, 2010

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


  1. Ok...Here is another one of my "out there" theories on the Chalmers. We know they are rare, and obviously were not produced for a super long time. The general consensus is that the embossed bottle was produced in or about 1873. If I put these two little facts together, and turn the magic 8 ball over twice, I come up with this being a 25th anniversary of the discovery of gold at Coloma piece. 1873-1848 = 25. I know the trademark was used on paper labels and billheads, but the embossed bottle may have been a commemorative produced for a very short timeframe.It has "Sutters Old Mill" embossed. Just a crazy thought.

  2. M.E.
    A valid theory.
    It's the documentation that's the tough part.

  3. Most likely proof will never show up...Even O.J. was aquitted and there was DNA evidence and matching footprints. This research stuff is an amazing endeavor that I must take my hat off to all who spend the time, effort, and energy to help us learn about the bottles we love so much. It seems like there are so many "holes" in the documentation of many brands, that we may never know the full story.

  4. Time to check out all advertising for an ad for the 25 anniversary of the brand......anybody got any 1873 papers, a lot of the printed matter from the state library has been stolen in the past, But maybe some of you have the right years papers left......