Tuesday, January 29, 2013

V. Squarza

 The V. Squarza bottle has been surrounded by speculation as to what it actually contained. One thing is for certain...it is a beautiful, early and rare piece of western blown glass.It is also the only embossed bottle from Squarza. Until the first example was brought to auction in 1996, I had never seen an example of this blue bottle, and when four examples were dug in San Francisco in 1998, I got to handle one for the first time. The crude glass is truly a wonder to behold, and it was a few years later when I was finally able to add one to my collection.
  I have heard all sorts of opinions as to whether this was a punch, cordial or bitters, and thanks to Warren Freidrich's extensive research and chapter in his book about early glass making in the west, it has become apparent to many, that this was indeed a bitters...most likely Squarza's Hygenic Bitters, or Cholera Antidote Bitters. Some purists will dig their heels in and theorize that since the word "bitters" was not actually embossed, it could be any product that Squarza sold, but being a "fancy" and blue bottle with embossing, it surely was not cheap to produce, or sell,( $2.00 per bottle), so I for one believe it was for a bitters which was introduced in December of 1864. There are so many ads placed by V. Squarza from 1863 into the 1880s( when Vincent did not actually own the company at that point), however in the Daily Alta dated December 28th 1865 there is the first mention of Squarza winning first premium at the Industrial Fair- Mechanics' Institute for his "Hygienic Bitters".  In the February 7th 1865 Daily Alta, this product is advertised as winning "First premium" as well. The next ad from the Sacramento Daily Union dated April, 3rd 1865 again advertises the "Hygienic Bitters" and once again in the December 6th 1865 San Francisco Chronicle the ad was for Squarza's" Anti Dyspeptic and Hygienic Bitters". In August of 1866 there was a large ad solely with the product "Cholera Antidote Bitters" and was advertised as being "Prepared after the most successful experiments, both in Europe and America" and " They have proved to be the only safe and permanent antidote of that malignant disease" PRICE $2.00 per bottle" This is most likely the product sold in the blue bottle.
  V. Squarza was a very colorful character in San Francisco during the 1860s, wearing his fancy Italian costume with red top hat. Apparently he wasted no occasion to party, and was known for his wild antics.
  These colorful pieces of western blown history are a tangible reminder of some of the most wild times in the settling of the west. I have not heard of another example being found since the "big dig" of 1998. To my knowledge, there are exactly 5 examples in collections, but I would be interested in knowing whether more have been found and if so, where these "bitters" were distributed. If they were advertised in Sacramento, have any been found there? It would seem that there were literally thousands of bottles of Squarza's punches, and cordials sold...most likely in cheap unembossed bottles. One of his ads is for "Egg Nog Punch" WOW! That sounds so yummy! Squarza also invented his very own version of the dispensing "tap" mechanism which allowed customers to fill their own bottle, jar, or bucket with the flavored punches. It would appear that V.Squarza was a real volume driven seller of the "juice" and to go the great expense of creating a fancy blue bottle embossed with his name would not seem consistent with his huge punch business. I personally believe this bottle was indeed for either the Hygienic Bitters, or the Cholera Antidote Bitters.

 OK...I will quit posting for now, as I do not wish to be a "post hog". DM


  1. Interesting stuff Dale heck without you and Rick posting there would not be anything to read the Cutter you posted on WGTW has to be the brightest star on the planet keep posting. Bill C.

  2. Not to put any holes in your theory of this bottle being a bitters, it must have not been any good or popular, because if it sold well at all there would be more than 5 examples of this bottle.......Wouldnt you agree...Andy

  3. A beautiful bottle that becomes part of a stellar collection. Well Done

  4. Andy, Your feedback regarding the popularity of this bitters does not put any holes in my theory, nor the exhaustive research done on this bottle. As a matter of fact, many western bitters are rare to extremely rare...the Bryant's, Cassin.s. Chalmer's, Ratafia, Oregon Chittum, Wideman Chappaz, Keller, Old Man's. Hauseman's.A.T.&Co, Boerhaave's, and many others are extremely rare. Apparently the competition from the Hostetter, and Drake's brand was so fierce, the western produced bitters simply could not withstand the onslaught of the "heavy hitters" and are so tough to find. I believe the Squarza was really a "last hurrah" in 1866...must have been too little too late.I would bet it was super tasty though! DM

  5. The Squarza bottle and the man behind the product are indeed a fascinating story. Vincenzo Squarza was a talented individual having patented two rather ingenious inventions during his time in San Francisco. He earned a living in S.F. from 1860 through 1867, having sold his established business to two fellow Italians by November 1866. He remained in S.F. after selling his business for just over a year and then departed to his home in Italy in January 1868.

    His one embossed glass container is somewhat of a mystery as to the exact contents, but it's shape is typical of Italian made glass containers of bitters products, which probably influenced his decision to market a bitters concoction in a similar style container for the local market. My belief that this bottle was used for his Cholera Antidote Bitters comes from research that I uncovered during my writing the chapter on this bottle.