Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Is it Figural or Fictional

Ferdinand Meyer with a figural? Constitution Bitters
I have been watching the discussion on the Peachridge Glass site  http://www.peachridgeglass.com/ on the subject of figural bitters. Seems that some of the more advanced collectors are not agreeing on what is a figural bottle or what is not.

One of the bottles in question is the Constitution Bitters. From what I can gather the bitters in question is shaped like a gazebo and not like an "object".

To quote Ferdinand of Peachridge "Jeff Burkhardt and I are having a healthy debate on whether this is a figural. He feels it is not as it is not a queen, pig, corn, or a cabin. He said a Gazebo is not an object I believe. He may have had me until he said cabin in his figural list. If a Drakes cabin is a figural, I feel a stylized gazebo should be too. Does it really matter? Probably not."

Well, this got me to thinking (and that is always a dangerous thing) and object or not an object does matter to me so I looked up object in the dictionary.  Object: "anything that is visible or tangible and is relatively stable in form".

I don't know what kind of gazebo's they have back east or in Wisconsin but the ones here in the west are pretty stable and sure as hell not invisible. 

In my mind a gazebo is an object and that there Constitution Bitters is a figural...just as sure as a tree or a  bird or a cabin is an object.


  1. I believe the Constitution is a figural. As much a figural as a Lacour's (lighthouse) and a Cassin's ( Cello?) Just my humble opinion. Dale M.

  2. definitely a figural bottle, more so than a cassins, and the same as a cabin or lacours monument or such.........

  3. In the literal sense; Figural is a word that means of, comprising of, or forming a pictographic composition of human or animal figures. For example, a figural design. There are no sites giving the synonyms for the word.

    But, I've always thought of any bottle that represents an object, either animate or inanimate, as a figural. That includes the Tippecanoe, Kelly's cabin, the semi cabins, and even the barrels. I guess beauty, and the definition of figural, is in the eyes of the beholder.

  4. A gazebo IS certainly an object. The distinction I make is that this rare and wonderful Bitters is basically that of the round cylinder form, having an arched architectural motif. In contrast, THE FISH BITTERS, KELLY’S LOG CABIN, NATIONAL(Ear of CORN), INDIAN QUEEN, etc. are true FIGURAL Bitters in that their entire form (and detailing) is “IN THE SHAPE OF” the object.

    In my opinion, the Constitution’s design is much the same as the rare squares like the DR. E.C. HYDES SOUTHERN STOMACH BITTERS with it’s distinctive, fancy columnar corners. I would not however call them a “building” figural. Our coveted DRAKES PLANTATION may fall into the “stylized” or “figural motif” category as I see the CONSTITUTION.

    The “grey area” of this distinction, is how true-to-form the rendition or mold design is. If the Constitution had a much more detailed and elaborate or classic roof, steps, railings, lattice-work, etc. we may not be having this discussion. Please bear in mind I don’t feel my position is “right” or “wrong”, just how I perceive these bottles as a Bitters collector. The bottom line is that these bottles are incredibly rare, wonderful in the form and detailing that they do have and really do not need to be “categorized” to be highly desirable and valuable. It;s still all about the rarity, color, condition, character, etc. I’d love to hear other collector’s viewpoints on this!

  5. Yes It really isn't that important whether it is a figural or a styalized figural bottle, IT IS STILL a great bitters, and one anybody should be proud to own....Andy