Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dr. Thos. Hall’s Pepsin Wine Bitters

I noticed over on the Oregon Trail Antique Bottle and Glass site a Dr. Thos. Hall’s Pepsin Wine Bitters is being offered for sale. I don’t really know much about the Hall’s bitters except that it is a western product, comes with an applied and tooled top and, the examples I have seen, are a plain amber color. That’s all I had so..
I started to research the Hall’s product and found it was first manufactured and sold by none other than our old Sacramento druggist Justin Gates as early as December of 1869. Dr. Thos. Hall, according to the Gates advertisement, was already pushing up daisies by 1869. By February of 1880 the H.C. Kirk Company of Sacramento were the general agents for the Dr. Hall’s line of medicine and bitters.
The pepsin in Pepsin Wine Bitters is an enzyme that is usually obtained from the stomachs of hogs and calves and used as a digestive aid. It also is used commercially in some cheese making, in the leather industry to remove hair and residual tissue from hides, and in the recovery of silver from discarded photographic films by digesting the gelatin layer that holds the silver. Now there’s something I would reach for if I was suffering from dyspepsia or indigestion, wouldn’t you?

If you are interested in a Dr. Hall’s or just like looking at western bottles take a look at the Oregon Trails Bottle site.

I believe this embossed bottle was marketed somewhat early as there are some crude examples with drippy applied mouths. But there are also tooled top examples that display the later techniques used for manufacturing a squished neck to form the mouth. Major advertising for this bitters occurs in the early '80's, however I would suspect that the crude applied mouth examples are earlier in their manufacture. The bottle is a sixth size container and features the similar mould manufacturing features seen on both the Dr. Mott's Wild Cherry Tonic bottles and the Louis Taussig San Francisco square bottle. W.F


  1. I sold my Hall's last year, but still have an interesting early trade card for the product. I'll dig around and see if it can be located in all the junk stashed hereabouts.

  2. OC, if you want to get rid of that tradecard, let me know.DB