Saturday, September 22, 2012

Who In The Heck Was Marcus Sass?

 Here is yet another western bitters bottle which seems to have some mystery surrounding it. This bottle was unknown in embossed form until a dark amber example was discovered in the Red Bluff, California area in the late 1980s. Prior to this discovery, it was believed that this brand was a label only bitters. Wilson's 1968 reference book on western bitters indicates the inventor of this oddly named concoction was a Amandus Sass of San Francisco,( Marcus)? and other bitters reference books also collaborate this. I have not seen any advertisements or trade mark information which would make this bottle's origin more clear. I understand that it dates to 1876, or 1877. Apparently it was only produced for a short time as they are extremely rare bottles. I only know of two complete examples...the original discovery in dark amber, and this "old amber" specimen.In my collection I also have the bottom half of one which was dredged up in San Francisco bay many years ago, and it is an olive amber. There was also a broken in place example found in the Bay Area a few years ago. I have seen photos of this one and it almost looks like a probe skewer, but hopefully this was not the case.
 The example shown was recovered in 2001 in the San Francisco Bay area as well. It would appear that while there were indeed several batches blown. due to the differences in color shade, this brand was not distributed as widely as other brands of bitters.
 If anyone has any additional information on other pieces or whole examples known, I would certainly appreciate it. Also, it would be interesting to know if there have been any shards, or advertising in other western states. DM


  1. THere are 3 good ones

  2. Dale,
    Here is what I know about this product. Amandus H. Sass operated a liquor saloon at 1042 Folsom St, S.F. in 1876. A Marcus Sass is listed as proprietor of Old Man's Stomach Bitters at 110 Drumm St, S.F. His residence was 1062 Folsom St,S.F. These two men were probably related, although there were others with this name as well.
    Marcus Sass is again listed in the 1877 city directory only as a bold listing and as a retail liquor dealer and distributor of Old Man's Stomach Bitters.
    I've never found any additional information about this bitters product.

  3. The broken Bay Area example from 2009 was not a probe mortality ! The only other worthy bottle in that pit was an aqua IXL.

  4. That is good to know...The worst probe hit which I recall in the past 20 years was a light yellow olive Weil Bros. sixth. What a tragedy! That bottle would have been one of the most significant finds in the history of digging in the west. it is whittled and crude. It just has a neat hole in the front, and a massive exit wound with radiating cracks. it was shown around at the Downieville show and sold by the digger to a well known collector of wounded stuff. Amazing bottle!

  5. That "Weil Bros" 6th was a real slayer, what a beauty it would have been.
    I can presonally accout for four intact "Old Man / Stomach Bitters" and three broken ones.

    1. GP
      Are you talking about the four in your collection or four in all collections?

  6. I wish, RS, I've never shoveled any pieces or had one of these bottles.

  7. I also have never even dug a shard of the Old Man's Stomach Bitters and have only handled one that the Redding dealers aquired.

  8. I have pcs of a broken one in a light apricot color. It would've been a slayer; heavy whittle, and sparkle-glass. I dug the pcs 12 yrs ago in the SF Bay Area