Friday, April 27, 2012

Fish’s Infallible Hair Restorative

Information Compiled by Rick Simi and Warren Friedrich

The coveted "Blue Fish's"
(Mlasko photo)
The story of this very successful product is full of controversy, and involves several different individuals who manufactured and marketed the Fish’s hair restorative. The ongoing disagreement that the three variants of the Fish bottles were blown at either a western or eastern glassworks continues to be full of rumors, speculation and not many hard facts. Hopefully the information presented in the following manuscript will help answer the question “is the Fish’s Hair Restorative a western or eastern blown bottle”.

To begin , we need to present information from a Supreme Court ruling in October 1866. A man named Benjamin F. Fish of San Francisco in 1855 “invented, manufactured and made an article for the restoring and strengthening of the human hair, to be used upon the head and hair, and gave it the name by which it was and is known, of ‘Fish’s Infallible Hair Restorative’.”

Niles Mills of San Francisco who in the year 1857, has “composed, invented, created, made, established and adopted said labels, trade-marks, devices, wrappers and circulars, and that they belonged to him, and that he had the right to use, or assign, or sell the same, and to make, use, or sell, or assign said ‘Fish’s Infallible Hair Restorative’.”
The first ad for the Fish's product by N. Mills 1858
The third major player in this story involves a man named Charles R. Story; he opened the Pacific Patent Medicine Depot, located at 421 Montgomery Street, San Francisco in the month of May 1861. On July 27th, 1861, N. Mills sold to C. R. Story “the right to manufacture and sell in California and elsewhere, Fish’s Infallible Hair Restorative”. 
July 28, 1861 ad Mills sell Fish's to C.R. Story
The first documented ad for the Fish's
 product in a glass bottle

The first advertisement that mentions the Fish's Infallible Hair Restorative product being put up in a bottle is from C.R. Story in October of 1861. The advertisement on the left states it is put up in pint bottles.
 I believe this was an unembossed paper labeled bottle.

Redington and Co. Advertisement

The fourth major player in the Fish’s saga is John H. Redington, a San Francisco wholesale druggist and importer of drugs, medicines, etc. (Redington and Co. and C. L. Story and Co. were in partnership in this trade in 1851). The first advertisement found for Fish’s Hair Restorative by Redington  and Co. first appeared in the San Jose Mercury newspaper on April 10th, 1862 and sold by local druggists Hewson and  Johnson.
This is still the unembossed paper labeled bottle

On April 6th, 1863 this advertisement appeared in the San Francisco Evening Bulletin newspaper. Benjamin Fish cautions the public that the genuine article is put up in square bottles with the name “B. F. Fish – Fish’s Hair Restorative – San Francisco” blown in the bottles.
This is the first advertisement for the embossed Fish's Hair Restorative placed on May 2, 1863. This is the rectangular bottle that comes in aqua and clear glass and has, in the past, been credited to a western glass works. 
 According to Warren Friedrich in his book
 Early GlassWorks of California " The Pacific glassworks was not producing bottles until June 16th 1863 in California ". From the extensive research that Warren and I have done I am comfortable saying the first embossed B.F. Fish glassed product was blown in the east from an eastern made mold.

The first embossed Fish bottle "FISH'S HAIR RESTORATIVE / B.F.FISH / SAN FRANCISCO

The advertisement to the left is the last and most important advertisement  that was found and describes the new bottle Redington has manufactured for the Fish product. It was placed in the Sacramento Daily Union newspaper on November 24th 1864 and informs the public that from that date on Fish's Infallible Hair Restorative "will be put up in round blue pint bottles"

The mold for the blue Fish's was manufactured by the same mold maker that produced the mold for the aqua rectangular B.F. Fish bottle. Both the font style and the distinctive apostrophe shaped like a seven ( 7) appear on all three of the embossed Fish bottles. The distinctive seven also appears on the eastern blown Risley's and Rush's.
Several other factors weigh in favor of all of the Fish bottles being blown in the east including the fact that San Francisco Glass Works was not in operation during the period the blue Fish's was blown. 
It's remotely possible that the blue bottle may have been blown at Pacific Glass Works, there's just no evidence to absolutely say for sure that it was not. However there is absolute proof that the rectangular Fish's bottle was blown back East prior to PGW's start-up. That bottle and the blue bottle were made by a pattern /mould maker in the East. Several other eastern meds exhibit the same characteristic letter style, including periods, font style, etc.
Even though I'm not a betting man, I would put money down that all of the Fish's Infallible Hair Restorative bottles were blown in a eastern glass house.
Blue Fish's
Aqua fish's


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Another Member of the "Club"

Here is another "Club House" that I know nothing about. I do believe that the few examples known have been found in California. These seem to be from the 1860s or earlier though they are smooth base. Anyone have any information as to who Woodgate was?

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Sierra Buttes Mine

Located north of the small town of Sierra City - The Sierra Buttes Mine was one of the largest and longest producing mines in Sierra County. Discovered in the late summer or early fall of 1850 this mine employed a major population of the town of Sierra City and was worked for over eighty years.
Early view of the Sierra Buttes Mine
It is said that the mine was discovered by a company of Italian miners, that were prospecting the area, and was first worked with arrastra’s in 1851. It is possible that the original discovery site was near Independence Ravine where a huge quartz outcropping can still be seen today. The mine was worked on nine main levels and the levels were designated as tunnels one through nine; tunnel number one being the highest in elevation and the oldest of the workings, and nine being the lowest and newest.
Arrastra in Buttes Ravine
( note gin pole in upper right of photo)
A small camp started around the mine as early as 1851 and after the heavy snow during the winter of 1852 - 53, that crushed most of the buildings in Sierra City, a settlement started to emerge at the mine site. All manner of business was represented at the site except for the sale of liquor. Company policy stated liquor was prohibited on the mining property. It is interesting to note that, although liquor was prohibited at the Sierra Buttes Mine, scores of liquor bottles ranging in age from the early 1850’s to the late 1880’s have been discovered at this site.

The number one tunnel, and the boarding house for those workings, have yielded gold rush bottles and artifacts but it the authors contention the area around the number six tunnel was the site of the settlement started after the heavy winter of 1852 -53. Weighing in favor of this contention is the fact that the area around the number six tunnel has a natural gently sloping flat that was suitable for the construction of buildings and was not as steep as the area around the number one tunnel. The amount of abandoned structure sites discovered in the number six area far outnumber the couple of sites around the number one tunnel and boarding house. Bottles and artifacts ranging from the early 1850’s to the middle 1880’s have been recovered from the number six area dating the site as a settlement in continual use since the early 1850’s.

Today heavy brush covers the Sierra Buttes Mine site and all that's left of this important gold rush settlement are acres of broken glass and scattered trash.
A group of miners at the Number Six Tunnel Portal
(note the candles instead of carbide lamps)

April in Downieville

The Old Downieville Brewery
Looking Down Main Street
A Snowy Saloon