Monday, November 16, 2020



Not an extremely rare bottle but it exhibits all the qualities of a fairly early product of the San Francisco glass factories. Which factory is difficult to determine. The proprietor, Joseph Lipman, was born in what is now Krakow, Poland, in February 1832. He immigrated to the United States in 1853, and his name first appears in San Francisco in 1858 as a barber in partnership with Nathan Clark. By 1861 Joseph Lipman opened his What Cheer Hair Dressing Saloon in the What Cheer House of San Francisco. This unique hotel catered only to men, for which it was famous. He became a well known fixture there, also employing various other members of the Lipman family.


A photograph of the What Cheer House of San Francisco taken about the time that Joseph Lipman would have operated his What Cheer House Hair Dressing Saloon.


Joseph Lipman continued working at the What Cheer House until 1875. He then joined in partnership with Jacob Hyman as hair dressers, and established their shop at 403 Pine Street in San Francisco. He continued at this location until the end of his working career and was last listed as a barber in the San Francisco business directories in 1885.

 Lipman is interred in the Salem Memorial Park and Garden at Colma, San Mateo County, California, with his wife. (see FindaGrave Memorial No. 150934993) He died November 8, 1907 in San Francisco.

 During the time Lipman was working at the What Cheer House he developed and sold his own hair restorer.


Simply embossed on the side panels, J. LIPMAN / SAN FRANCISCO, this information gives no clue about the contents of the bottles.




A copy of  the bottle label  was registered by Joseph Lipman in 1868 for his hair restorative. ( Copyright registration for the Northern District Court of California, June 22, 1868)


Joseph Lipman’s newspaper advertisement that he used throughout the West from April 1871 to December 1873.

  Even though Lipman’s hair restorative was first developed in 1868 the first newspaper advertisements that were located began April 1871. The text of this ad was used in newspapers throughout the western slope over 700 times until December 1873. The only difference in the text being that the general agents were changed from R.H. McDonald & Co. to Charles Langley & Co. in November 1872. After the end of 1873 the advertisements stopped except for a few ads by local druggists trying to reduce their stock. It appears that manufacturing of the product ended by 1873.

The mystery with Lipman’s Hair Restorative is the time between the label copyright and the first newspaper advertisement. This ‘quiet time’ is not the general rule for a product but might represent Lipman’s sales technique. He may have initially sold the restorative only from his store for a few years prior to ‘going big”. He then may have lined up R.H. McDonald & Co. to handle both manufacturing and sales. Purely speculative on my part, but it does present some questions. Regardless, it appears the outside time line for production would be 1868 to 1873. The vast majority of the bottles have characteristics of being blown in one of the two glass factories in San Francisco. Keeping in mind that the San Francisco Glass Works burned in July 1868, and didn’t open for business again until September 1870, I would lean heavily toward the Pacific Glass Works being the company of their origin. However, there would still be time for the San Francisco Glass Works to have produced some as well, in 1871 and 1872. The jury is still out on that question.

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