Friday, July 19, 2013

Another Look at the Mill's Bitters

From a previous post by Warren Friedrich:
"Another very scarce western bitters product is the Mills' Bitters / A. M. Gilman / Sole Proprietor [lady's leg fifth size] bottle. If this is a western manufactured bottle it would most likely be a product of the San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works".

"The only advertisement I've ever found for this product came from a August 14th, 1878 advertisement in the San Francisco Alta California paper, which ran for about a month"

Some of the comments from the previous post include:
"I seriously doubt this was a Western manufactured bottle. It is almost always stained, and etched when dug. The glass does not have the Western characteristics like hardness, and resistance to effects of minerals in the ground".
"I would be curious to know how it was determined to have been made in 1874 only as was written. The above ad is the only evidence I've found for this particular bitters product".

In his book Western Bitters  "Wilson says 1874 but I think they were produced about 1876-78. Like many of the rare bitters, they were primarily shipped to one this case, Tucson Az. I believe that is where they are almost all found, with one damaged example coming from the Bay area a couple years ago. Anyway, this leg is not often discussed", 
"We dug an example a few months ago, I'll send you a photo for this post. How many are known "
Well... this post is open for discussion - if you have any information on the Mill's bitters Let er' rip..........


  1. Interesting how the embossing reads UP the bottle...not too many bottles embossed this way.


  2. Gilman also advertised this product in the February 2, 1878 California Advertiser. If someone contacts me, I can send you a picture of the entry. Thanks. Rob Goodson (rdgmail at

  3. I dug a broken one near Prescott Arizona a few years ago, about two hundred miles north of Tucson . K. Porter

  4. I have a letter written by Gilman in 1878 also the cover it was sent in .Both pieces advertise Mill's Bitters . R.Siri
    Can't seem to ever be able to post under my name that's why anonymous.

  5. I only know of one Mill's being dug outside Arizona. It would be interesting to know if any more examples have been found in other areas like Portland, Sacramento, Nevada towns, or more from the Bay Area. Also is there an idea of the total known examples in collections? Sometimes one specimen might change hands several times giving the impression that there are more out there than there actually are.Another possibility is that few are offered meaning there might be more than; Jesse Moore and Castle Bourbon flasks. I estimate there are about 6-10 Mill's known,in the "large" size, one Cassin "sample" example, and none of the Gilman in the sample size intact. I just do not see many collections with a Mill's in them. Dale M.

  6. We dug one 3 yrs ago in the Bay Area. It was certainly not found with 1874 era bottles. I would agree that this bottle is more an 1878 bottle, at the earliest.
    I've only seen 3 or 4 for sale over the yrs, and am not sure if some of those were the same bottle just changing hands again. They also seem to be the same color, light amber, which makes it harder to track individual examples. I think Dale is on target w his estimate.



  7. Thanks Tom...Was the example you dug stained like the Arizona dug Mill's? That example that "N"and "A" dug a few years ago in the Bay area was thrashed and heavily stained. Interesting that Variant 3 Lacour's,and Wormser barrel's come out stained more often than not, and though separated by a decade in manufacture,from the Mill's, are most often found in light amber to yellow amber. Come to think of it, many western bottles in this color seem to react to soil more than other PGW, or SFPGW colors. Not sure if this is a coincidence, or the "recipe". Eastern glassworks? DM

  8. As a collector of Bitters with a liking for lady's legs(yep, those too), I note that every MILLS I've seen thru the years is the same color; yellow-amber. Curious if anyone has seen a significantly darker amber example-?

    In any case, I'm still looking for that unlikely "attic" example for my collection. I know,"Good luck with that"!

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  10. Jeff, I have not seen a Mill's in any dark colors...there may have been only one or two batches blown. As for an "attic" example, that would be incredibly difficult to find, and the best I could get was lightly cleaned with no etching, or scratching. The glass is soft on these and being buried seems to always have some effect on them.The Arizona soil does not help... There must be an "attic" example out there! DM

    1. Dale- Thanks for reply. The recently sold example in Glass Works Auctions was the John Feldmann example, which I passed on in our original deal. While not bad, I'm banking on a better example coming along someday.

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