Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Geo. S. Dickey Pioneer Chemist

According to George Dickey he started his apothecary business in San Francisco early in 1850.

The above ad place by Dickey in October of 1864 claims he started his business fourteen years earlier in 1850. This is the earliest ad I could find for Dickey while he was operating at Howard and Third Street in a frame building.

The above 1872 advertisement for the Pacific Chemical Works has an endorsement from  Dickey at his new address of Fourth and Market along with the endorsements of some pretty well known San Francisco chemists and apothecaries.

A "run" of Dickey's - the bottle third from the left is a earlier variant of the Dickey Chemist bottle possibly dating from the early 1870's.
An early flat base Dickey
Late 1870's - 1880's indented base
I believe the above advertisement is for the embossed Dickey bottle
(early multi tasking - a remedy for acne that you can brush your teeth with )
The amber examples in this picture date from the 1890's
Flat embossing on the early 1870's era bottle
Sharp embossing on a 1890's example - notice anything different about this bottle?
Yep, the pestle is on the left side of the mortar instead of the right side.
The Dickey Pioneer 1850 Chemist S.F. is not a rare or expensive bottle to obtain and can be found at almost every western bottle show. If you are looking for a historic western medicine bottle to add to your collection that comes in several variants and colors consider old Geo. S. Dickey's pioneer chemist bottle.
From Andrew K:
Here are some photos of the rare mid to late 1880s variant. I have dug two examples of these and both were in solid 80s holes. I believe it could be the same as the third example from the left in your run that you identified as an early 70s example. Is that one also tooled ? The base and embossing seem to be identical. For as 'common' as these are, we really don't dig too many.
The blue example (that I have pictured) is the same as the amber example that Andrew has pictured. I believe Andrew is correct on the age of these bottles as mid 1880's and yes it has a tool top. It is believed that the tool top with the flat embossing is earlier than the applied top examples.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Western Bottle Shows

28 & 29 March 2014 (Friday & Saurday)
Morro Bay, California
46th Annual Morro Bay Antique Bottle Show and Sale
Morro Bay Veterans Hall, 209 Surf Street, Morro Bay, California 93442, Show Times: Friday 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, Early Bird – Friday 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm, Free admission and Free Early Bird, San Luis Obispo Bottle Society, contact: Richard Tartaglia, Show Chairman, 546 Hillcrest Place, San Luis Obispo, California 93410, 805.543.7484,

Get involved in your hobby........Support your local bottle shows

Monday, February 24, 2014

The African Stomach Bitters

I'll be the first to admit that I really don't know much about the African Stomach Bitters product. Pictured above is the advertisement for the claim to trademark for the African Stomach Bitters. This ad was taken from the March 1881 Sacramento Daily Union.
The very next month Wilcox, Powers & Co. of Sacramento are advertising that they are the Sole Agents for African Stomach Bitters.
I have done a little research on the African and I can't seem to find any advertisements for this product after about 1884. That's not saying the African wasn't marketed after 1884 it just seems like I can't find anything about this stomach bitters after that date.
Spruance, Stanley was marketing the Dr. Mott's Wild Cherry Tonic at about the same time so maybe the African didn't get the attention that the Mott's did.
The Company's Spruance, Stanley  A.H Powers and Co. and Wilcox Powers and Company are intertwined and sorting out the timelines and products they produced is on my bucket list.......
I hope to find out more on these outfits and the bottles they had blown for their products
From Bruce Silva:
With regards to the African Stomach Bitters. I think that we can explain the presence of apparently concurrent sole agencies by locale. I've run across this a number of times where wholesalers in different Ca. locales claimed sole agency for the same brand during the same period of time based on registrations. Simply, if they did not advertise Sole Agency for the Pacific Coast , they actually had rights to a certain "turf" instead of  the entire state or coast.
The African  / Spruance Stanley (reverse) dates to the mid 90's.  It's hammer whittled, blood red and is part of the German connection. All that said, nothing surprises me with regional sales and merchandising and my guess is that it was more of a live and let live arrangement; as long as neither wholesaler cut into another's profit structure or bottom line.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Another Cundurango

Here is a Cundurango in an olive yellow is very whittled and crude with the smaller, drippier top.

And a few more.......


Here is a very crude and beautiful example of the Cundurango. These have always been one of my favorite bitters for the history of Chesley, the colors they can be found in, and being a relatively early western bitters. There has been quite a bit posted here on the history of this bottle and the "healing" properties of the cundurango bark. Apparently it was a "cure" for cancer, and other maladies.
I have noticed that the green examples I have handled seem to almost always come with the large square collar top, and the other colors are more often found with a smaller but very drippy applied top. I know the aqua examples are supposed to be the more common color, but I sure do not see aqua Cundurango's very often. I remember only a decade ago a Cundurango could be had for $300 or less. Today, the scarce amber shades are commanding $2500 plus, and I do not know what this example would bring if it were ever available ( which it will not be). The availability of western bitters had dried up and I am very fortunate to acquire or luckily
dig a decent example of any western bitters. I for one would love to see more Cundurango's posted in the gorgeous spectrum of colors! DM.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

From Bruce Silva at Western Whiskey Gazette

Rest in Peace

1/30/2009 - 2/14/2014


A friend emailed today, asking if I'd noticed what was up with Sole Agents site today.
I hadn't tried to log in since earlier this week.
This is what greeted me as the home page.
Bummer, and a real loss for the west coast fraternity.
I touched base with Sole Agent a couple of weeks ago about migrating the archived articles to this website if his folded. At that time, he had intentions of simply renewing the domain. Now that a domain shark has possesion of it, we'll try to figure a way to have his old database added to this one.

If any of you computer experts have an idea about how to implement this, please get ahold of me and we'll give your plan a try.
Have a good weekend!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Turner Brothers Bitters on ebay

One of our western collectors is offering a beautiful Turner Brothers Bitters on ebay.

 The description reads:
Here is a strong example of a rare western square. This big and nasty bottle dates from the late 1850s to early 1860s. The contents were "Forest Wine Bitters" and likely other products put out by the five Turner Brothers. Embossing reads " Turner Brothers, New York, Buffalo, NY & San Francisco" The color is a medium olive green and lighter than the photos depict on this cloudy day. The top is crudely applied and it has an early smooth base. This one has never been cleaned and other than a teeny pinhead open bubble or nick on the right shoulder ( no collateral radiation) it is mint. This pinhead is too tiny to show in the photos, and I doubt anyone would ever notice it...just trying to be extremely accurate
Nice bottle, interesting history check it out on ebay..... here

Monday, February 10, 2014

S&K Italian Cream

Here is a medicine which is a complete mystery to me. I was recently dug in a western state in 1870s context. It came out of the ground sparkling clean, and was only washed out to pristine condition. This makes two examples of the S&K I have ever seen, with both being dug in either California or Nevada. The obvious "London" would seem to indicate this is an English product, and it very well could be, but I believe the "Injection Ricord. Paris" comes in a western blown version, and since I can find nothing in any of my research materials or on line, I thought I would put it out there to the experts. Anyone out there know anything about this bottle, or dug one?
Thanks, DM

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bring on the Bubbles!

Thanks to Max, Dale, Chris, Dr. Barnes, Anonymous and Bruce for the killer "Bubble" pictures.
If you have any "bubbly" pictures you would like to share email them to and I will be glad to post them.

A Beginners Guide to Western Bottle Lingo

(From the early belief that bottle molds were whittled out of wood)
Lightly Whittled
( A bottle with a lot of air bubbles in the glass)
(The color of Water)

Western Aqua
(A deep bluish aqua)
Western Fire Aqua
( A warm bluish - green aqua)
Light Western Blue
(From the San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works - embossed on base)
And for you Western Whiskey Collectors........
(Sometimes confused by Western Whiskey collectors as having some Green)
(Yes! this is green! Ask a bitters collector to confirm)
Western Aqua with a touch of Lime Green