Wednesday, May 23, 2018

From Charles Festersen

Hi Rick ;
 I acquired an Oregon Grape Root Bitters not long ago and thought I would send you some photos for your website as nothing has been posted there on this particular bottle before. Below is the description and history of the bottle as published by Bill and Betty Wilson in there 1969 book Western Bitters. I hope it is of interest to your readers. - Charles F.
64. Embossed:   ORGON / GRAPE ROOT / BITTERS.   Cylindrical sixth. Extremely Rare. Made in 1885 only. Clear - 48*

 George and August Wolters had been in the wholesale liquor business for over six years in San Francisco when this new brand was introduced. The main ingredient for the formula was the bitter root of any evergreen shrub of the Barberry family which grows mainly in northern California and Oregon. The flower of the bush is the Oregon state flower. 
    The expensive clear flint glass bottle was discontinued after only one order from the glass works and the sold in paper labeled bottles for a year or so before it was discontinued.

Charles; the Oregon Grape Root Bitters, is indeed, a very rare and interesting western bottle from the Wolters Brothers firm. Thanks for the information and the pictures. - rs -
Anyone have any additional information on the Oregon Grape Root Bitters?

This bitters is pretty scarce. I don't believe these bottles are made of flint glass. They are what the glass works referred to as white glass, and I have seen this bitters in a sun colored amethyst tint.
Warren Friedrich

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Sands Sarsaparilla


Abraham B. Sands of New York City opened his first retail drug store sometime around 1840. In 1842 he expanded his horizons and opened a wholesale store at another location installing David Sands in the original retail store. By 1843 Sands has published a informative pamphlet on the curative properties of their sarsaparilla product.  In early 1850 the firm of A B & D Sands emerged as a wholesale and retail drug company and were advertising regularly in local newspapers.

By 1851 David retired, was replaced by William Sands, and the firm was listed as A.B. Sands & Co. After 1851 Sands & Co. became primarily a wholesale drug operation. Sands produced other products (Horehound Cough Syrup, Liquid Opeldoc and Anodyne Liniment) but his sarsaparilla was by far his best seller. A.B. Sands & Co. continued in business until 1875 when the company was dissolved.
Pictured at right is the earliest example of the Sands Sarsaparilla. It has widely beveled corners and is embossed on three panels SANDS SARSAPARILLA NEW YORK. The Sand’s Sarsaparilla was distributed throughout the California  gold rush country. Open pontil examples of the Sand’s have been found from  San Francisco to the Mother Lode and the  gold rush camps and settlements of the Northern Mines. These bottles are considered  scarce but as with all gold rush era bottles are highly collectable and prized by western and gold rush bottle collectors. The Sand’s that I have examined, that were recovered from Sierra County, are usually pretty crude, highly whittled and usually come out of the ground without mineral staining

Pictured at left is a copy of a Sand's Sarsaparilla advertisement. The second variant of the Sand's bottle, on the right side of the ad, is being filled with the sarsaparilla product. Sand's sarsaparilla was coined by the company as "The Very Best Remedy for Purifying the Blood"

Pictured at right is the later variant of the Sands bottle that was produced sometime after 1858. It still has a pontil base, but is a larger size, different shape, and has “GENUINE” embossed on one panel.

One whole example of the second variant of the Sands was recovered from the gold rush settlement of Excelsior in the early 1990’s. Two examples were recovered from the southern Sierra County settlement of Plum Valley and another mint example was un-earthed at Brandy City by a Nevada City digger. Numerous broken examples have been found at the Sierra County gold rush camps of  Monte Cristo, Poker Flat, Chaparral Hill and Rattlesnake. This variant of the Sands is considered more common than the earlier example with the widely beveled corners but is still a scarce and collectable gold rush bottle.