Monday, August 27, 2012

Rowler's Revisited


Rowler's (Roller's) Infallible Rheumatism Medicine and Klink's Counterfeit
It seems like every successful bitters or medicine product that I research has some sort of skeleton in its closet. Take for instance the Rowler’s Rheumatism Medicine. Prepared by Dr. J.R. Boyce of Sacramento City. J.R. Boyce, located at the corner of K and Second Street, claimed to have bought the recipe for the rheumatism medicine from Charles Roller sometime in the late 1850’s.  Charles Roller claims that “the recipe was given to me by a friend in this country”
 
Charles F. Klink, a druggist also from Sacramento, approached Charles Roller with a proposition to manufacturer Roller’s rheumatism medicine and split the profits from the sale of the product with Roller. Roller declined the proposition and Klink began informing the public that he (Klink) had the original recipe that Roller had bought or brought from New Orleans.
At about the same time as the Klink allegations (during the summer of 1861) Boyce comes out with the embossed Rowler’s bottle and states in a Sacramento Daily Union advertisement “to guard against spurious and counterfeit medicine, you will please observe that the written signature of Jas. R. Boyce, M.D, appears on each label, and that the name of the medicine is blown in the bottle".
Dr. Boyce was a larger than life character, well respected and besides pushing the Rowler's product practiced medicine in Sacramento. While walking on the corner of Sixth & K Street one day with John Cassidy a man named William Tierney discharged a revolver at Cassidy. The ball struck Boyce in the back and passed entirely through his body. Cassidy immediately ran down K Street and Tierney followed behind still firing at him. In all, three shots were fired and after the second shot Cassidy cried out, I'm shot! I'm shot!. The ball passed through his clothing, grazing his skin. but did no injury. Boyce, on the other hand, was considered in critical condition by his attending physicians. As it turns out Cassidy was accused of improper intimacy with Tierney's wife and Tierney had been "gunning" for Cassidy.
Dr. Boyce, although seriously injured, steadily improved and finally overcame his injury's.
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 know of one intact example that was unearthed in the Nevada City area in the early 1990's.
 

3 comments:

  1. Great write up Rick! These are great bottles with a colorful history. One thing I will disagree with, however is that these bottles are too early to have been blown in the west. I believe they were indeed blown in S.F. by San Francisco Glass Works and both pontiled and smooth based versions were made in San Francisco. If one reviews Warren Friedrich's latest edition of "Early Glassworks of California",( Chapter two, page25), there is pretty clear reference that the Rowler's, and the Dr. Adolphus bottles as well as the Turner Bros. medicine, were being blown at San Francisco Glass Works as of September 5th, 1860 with satisfactory results. I know of only one example of a Turner Bros. medicine in a deep turquoise and a pontil. These are truly important western blown bottles, and represent an incredible link to early western glass blowing in early California. Dale M.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Warren, I do not want to quote this section of your book without permission...can you do so? This new information is significant in regards to the Rowler's,( Dr. Boyce), Turner Bros., Dr. Bowen, Dr. Adolphus, and more...
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Although scarce, the "Rowler's" are not exactly rare. Several were unearthed in Old Sac back in the late '60s and early '70s. One pit we dug under what is now Fanny Anne's Saloon produced 2 mint and several damaged OP Rowler's. At the time, they brought relatively high prices, $125 to $150 in the considerably higher dollar value of those years. I recall one darker green example bringing the princely sum of $225 at an early Sacramento Bottle Show. In the years since, only a couple have been dug in Sac'to. One on D St, between 13th and 14th, in Alkali Flat, and another on 12th and Q after the old Pepsi Cola bottling plant was removed to make way for another state office building. Specimens may have been dug by others that I am not aware of, including the rumor of one dug in Marysville.

    ReplyDelete