Thursday, November 1, 2012

Circa: 1853

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. 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 died in Montreal Canada in 1903.

Relation to Sierra County California

The Compound Fluid Extract of Manzanita bottle produced by McDonald and Levy is said to have contained a remedy for the rash from poison oak or ivy.
Two undamaged examples of the Manzanita bottle were found at the early gold rush settlement of American Hill by the Author in 1993. One whole example was purchased from the Forest City museum by a bottle dealer in the late 1990’s and 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 the author to believe that Dr. Levy’s traveling medicine show quite possibly visited the area during gold rush times. The McDonald and Levy extract of Manzanita bottle is considered very rare.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the info, I bought my example several years ago from e-bay, so if it was made in 1853, that means that it was made back east and the glassworks would be anybodys guess?? Mine does have the curved rs attrituable to SFGW. but i thinkg that mold cutter worked back east before coming out west........