Saturday, February 27, 2010
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.
Special thanks to the "California Kid" for this post
Friday, February 26, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
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
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.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
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.]
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).
Friday, February 19, 2010
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.
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 dyspepsia 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
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
The Oregon Bottle Colletors Assoc. Annual Winter Show & Sale
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.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
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.
Monday, February 8, 2010
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
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
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?
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
Friday, February 5, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
13 Hostetter's in various shades of brown
3 Lash's Kidney & Liver Bitters
1 Yerba Buena
1 California Fig Bitters
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
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.