Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Buckshutem Bitters

Late last week a friend of mine called about a bottle he had acquired from his son-in-laws grandmother. Got that? He was pretty excited about the bottle and described it to me in vivid detail over the phone. “Rick, it is a green color and has fluted shoulders with a bunch of writing around the bottle that says it’s a bitters with a pontil on the bottom” Whew... slow down and catch your breath buddy! After a few more minutes describing the bottle we agreed to meet the next morning to look at the bottle and start researching it.

As it turned out we both got busy and several days elapsed before we could meet to check this rare and desirable piece of glass out. When we did meet one look at the bottle pretty much told me it was a repo, but my buddy wanted me to contact the authority on bitters bottles and get a second opinion.

I took a few pictures of the bottle and emailed them to our bitters expert over in Lake County. The reply to my mail directed me to page 289 of the Bitters Bottle Supplement by Carlyn Ring and Bill Ham.

Doctor / Travis’s / Herb Biters / Water of Life / Guaranteed / To Cure Gout / Consumption / Dysentery / Ankylosis. And on the bottom Buckshutem, N.J. with a pontil mark.
"Supposedly this bottle was first made in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s in South Jersey as a joke for the Clevenger Brothers Glass Works owner Jim Travis, who was from Buckshutem, N.J, which was located just below Millville. Evidently the joke was on bitters bottle collectors, for when a few of these bottles showed up at bottle shows in the 1970’s, dealers bought and sold the olive green examples as antique bottles, with hefty price tags. Clevenger Brothers obtained the mold and later produced a small number of bottles in an aqua/Jersey green color, examples of which may be rarer than the initial olive green offering."

The mystery of the Buckshutem Bitters solved. Now my friend is claiming he owns the rarer variant of the bottle and wants to know what it’s worth. A rarer variant of a reproduction bottle? Come on now,
some people just won’t give it up!

Thanks to Bill Ham for the help in unraveling the history of this bottle


  1. I was one of the dumb young collectors who thought that they had a real treasure on their hands back when these critters first appeared. I thought that mine was double good since Bitters was mis-spelled "Biters". Turned out they all were...

    Old Doc Travis taught me a valuable lesson about integrity too after I sold it, and then bought it back because they turned out to be fakes. Wonder how many others got taught the same thing?

  2. Oh, and thinking back now, Gout was spelled "Guot". How naive could a person be?