Herkules Bitters – Now in Three Sizes

Herkules Bitters – Now in Three Sizes

26 October 2017 (R•102717)

As most of us know, Hercules is a Roman hero and god. He was the equivalent of the Greek divine hero Heracles, who was the son of Zeus (Roman equivalent Jupiter) and the mortal Alcmene. In classical mythology, Hercules is famous for his strength and for his numerous far-ranging adventures. The art at the top of this post is Hercules fighting the Nemean lion by Peter Paul Rubens.

In bitters collecting, we have the Herkules Bitter. Note the use of a “k” in Herkules and the absence of an “s” in Bitter. With the “k”, that is simply the German spelling. Most bitters collectors consider this a bitters even with this “s” anomaly. Additionally, an advertising clip below uses the word “Bitters”.

I added a quart example from the Stuart Elman collection to my collection back in 2002. I had not thought about this bottle in years until I saw three different sizes show up in a recent American Bottle Auctions Auction #64. The middle size is unlisted. Each is represented in this post. Pretty amazing that the concoction was 40% alcohol!

The Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listings in Bitters Bottles and Bitters Bottles Supplement is as follows:

HERKULES ( cu ) BITTER  (ad) / monogram  / 1 QUART
L…1 Quart, Herkules Bitter, 40% Alcohol
7 1/2″ x 5
Ball, Green, ARM, Tooled lip, Rare
Lettering on flattened area of body
Note: Trade mark No. 2034 dated October, 1874 by J.C. Street and Edw. Caverly, New York. Most known examples have been found in northeastern, Pennsylvania.
HERKULES ( cu ) BITTER ( cd ) 4 FL. OZ. ( ad ) / motif – monogram AC // c //
4 1/8″ x 1 1/4 (2 3/8)
Ball, Green, ARM, Rare
Lettering on flattened area of body.
Note: There is a Polish language version of this bottle.

The new listing in Bitters Bottle Supplement 2 is:

HERKULES (cu) BITTER (cd) 1 PINT / motif-monogram AC // c //
Ball shaped, Green, ARM, tooled lip, Very rare
Lettering on flattened area of body

Lot 190: HERKULES BITTER. 4” H-99. Tooled top. It is unusual that we have never sold a Hercules Bitters let alone, the entire set. In fact, the one pint size is not listed in Ring/Ham. These are an interesting bottle with their round shape and flattened embossed sides. They even embossed the volume. There is a monogram in the center but we are unaware of what it stands for. This smallest variant is in about perfect condition and we will grade it a 9. – American Bottle Auctions – Auction #64

Lot 191 Front: HERKULES BITTER ONE PINT. With original labels. 6” with tooled top. This example has the original contents and original front and neck labels. As we mentioned, this is unlisted in this size. We can’t imagine a better condition example, this one grades a 10 with the labels being about perfect. – American Bottle Auctions – Auction #64

Lot 191 Back: HERKULES BITTER ONE PINT. With original labels. 6” with tooled top. This example has the original contents and original front and neck labels. As we mentioned, this is unlisted in this size. We can’t imagine a better condition example, this one grades a 10 with the labels being about perfect. – American Bottle Auctions – Auction #64

Lot 191 Detail: HERKULES BITTER ONE PINT. With original labels. 6” with tooled top. This example has the original contents and original front and neck labels. As we mentioned, this is unlisted in this size. We can’t imagine a better condition example, this one grades a 10 with the labels being about perfect. – American Bottle Auctions – Auction #64

Lot 192 Back: HERKULES BITTER ONE QUART. 7 ½” Another vibrant 7UP green, these all differ slightly in color. Just sitting on our shelves we notice how much the presence of this bottle really stands out. Sticker on base says, “Ex-Gardner Collection.” Grades a 9. – American Bottle Auctions – Auction #64

Lot 192 Front: HERKULES BITTER ONE QUART. 7 ½” Another vibrant 7UP green, these all differ slightly in color. Just sitting on our shelves we notice how much the presence of this bottle really stands out. Sticker on base says, “Ex-Gardner Collection.” Grades a 9. – American Bottle Auctions – Auction #64

Lot 192 Base: HERKULES BITTER ONE QUART. 7 ½” Another vibrant 7UP green, these all differ slightly in color. Just sitting on our shelves we notice how much the presence of this bottle really stands out. Sticker on base says, “Ex-Gardner Collection.” Grades a 9. – American Bottle Auctions – Auction #64

The brand was put out by a fellow named Joseph C. Street. His partner was Edward Caverly. Looks like they set up shop at 33 Murray Street in Brooklyn, NY. They filed for a trade mark in 1874. You can find both gentlemen listed in city directories that in 1873 and 1874.

Joseph C. Street listing – Brooklyn, New York, City Directory, 1874

Edward Caverly listing – Brooklyn, New York, City Directory, 1873

The product was probably marketed to European immigrants by looking at the lable. Ring & Ham notes that there is a Polish language version of this bottle. Here is a picture below of a version from Hungary. Gyomorkeseru means bitters. There is also a German and French targeted advertising. Interesting enough, Ring & Ham note that most known examples have been found in northeastern, Pennsylvania. Part of me wondered if this bottle was imported though advertising says it was manufactured in Brooklyn.

Herkules Bitter (label side) – picture: Sörös Üveg-Gyökeres Gábor

Herkules Bitter (embossed side) – picture: Sörös Üveg-Gyökeres Gábor

The mystery here is the embossed monogram. Looks to be a “GA” or “AC” etc. Any ideas?  This question was solved by Corey Stock who submitted the following newspaper advertisement for Tonic De Hercules. “GA” is most likely “German Apothecary”.

Tonic De Hercules (Bitters) advertisement: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 18 April 1874.

Here is a another advertisement. It seems like all references for this brand only occur in 1874.

French Tonic De Hercules (Hercules Bitters) advertisement: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Tuesday, May 12 1874

Here are two advertising trade cards for Hercules Cordial, Hercules Tonic Bitters and Hercules Bitters from ephemera specialist Joe Gourd. I don’t believe this is the same brand but who knows, it could be. More research is needed. There is reference to this brand in 1902 in a druggist catalog.

Posted in Apothecary, Auction News, Bitters, Cordial, Ephemera, History, Liquor Merchant, Questions, Tonics, Trade Cards | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Fizz? Less Bizz!

by Ken Previtali

24 October 2017

In reading the Saving the Fizz post, a number of things came to mind. Keeping CO2 bubbles sealed in a bottle until they were set free to tickle the senses was indeed a challenge to the burgeoning 19th century bottling industry. Why was fizz so important? Mainly because the sensation is what attracted their customers: No fizz? Less bizz!

As Mr. Jones outlines in his enticing prose describing his book Saving the Fizz, the challenge drove inventors, glasshouses, and bottlers to try just about every way imaginable to make a reliable seal. In David Graci’s own groundbreaking 2003 book Soda and Beer Closures- 1850-1910, he notes that “Many of these bottle closure ideas appeared in a short period of time, competing fiercely for patronage of bottlers and customers alike. Those making it to a successful acceptance might be quickly bypassed by another, seemingly better idea. Patented bottle closures filed and recorded within the Patent Records seemed to herald a quickening impatience to discover this holy grail.” (David told me that he “had the pleasure of working with David (Jones) on both his massive books.”)

For every one thing we think we know, there are ten more we don’t, and that is especially true with history. Let’s go on another historical ramble on fizz with a “slight” slant towards ginger ale.

From 2013 FOHBC Manchester National Antique Bottle Show ginger ale display: Left to right, (patent holder, date, and bottler): A. Christin – 1875, Christin, Chicago, C. de Quillfeldt – 1875, S.B. Winn, Salem, MA, H. Codd – 1873, Wilcox Bros, Lilydale, Dandenong & Frankston, Australia, A. Rich – 1882, G.D. Dow, Boston, F. Riley – 1885, Grattan, Belfast, IR, C. Hutchinson- 1879, Geo. Schmuck, Cleveland, OH, F. Thatcher- 1885, Cincinnati Sodawater & Ginger Ale, OH.

Read: Ginger Ale Bottles / Go Withs

When just a cork and wire were the predominant method to seal a bottle, bottles were sometimes embossed with directions to “keep lying down.” The objective was to keep the liquid contents in contact with the cork to prevent shrinking. A dry cork allowed the zing to slip away unnoticed until an eager customer was disappointed by the stillness. And flat ginger ale is never very appealing; back then, or today.

Attributed to Josiah Russell, a successful London bottler who set up a factory in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 1887. While this example is embossed London, it is not known if this bottle was used in Rotterdam, but it is reported that Russell did make ginger ale at that location. Regardless which side of the channel it was, Russell wanted everyone to keep that cork moist.

Found more often, labels provided similar instructions.

This Mt. Vernon, Indiana bottler’s label ca. 1881 was very specific with instructions to customers. Even taking steps to retain the fizz after opening was important.

The instructions on this bottle ca. 1890 also recommend storing in a cool place. Relative to fizz, this was a good idea for several reasons. First, lower temperatures kept the CO2 from expanding, which prevented added pressure on the cork; lessening the chance of inadvertent “escape.” Also, CO2 is more soluble in liquid when kept cool, which helps retain fizz for a longer period of time.

Even though this is a machine-made crown top bottle from the1920s, the label still recommends storing lying down. These instructions probably were just a precaution left over from the days of leaky closure contraptions, as the simple crown cork seal was indeed the “holy grail” bottlers were chasing all those years. When the metal crown cap was crimped on, the thin wafer of cork made the seal, and it just didn’t leak. (Unless it was applied improperly by the bottler.)

Crown Seal Ginger Ale, Inc, Troy, NY, ca. 1930 The importance of a safe, hygienic bottle seal was not lost on the soda consumer. Competition among bottlers was intense, especially during the prohibition era. It appears this Troy, NY bottler chose to attract customers by naming the entire company after the closure: “Crown Seal Ginger Ale, Inc.” Whether or not the name on this art deco bottle was an infringement on Crown, Cork & Seal’s copyrights is undetermined, but it seems a savvy marketing idea.

We learned from Mr. Jones that the inside screw stopper had been around for a while with Henry Barrett generally accepted as the inventor (1878) with a nod to several earlier others including the little-known Amasa Stone (1861). But then along came Frederick Riley of England in 1885 with his own twist on the screw stopper. In the closures section (http://www.sodasandbeers.com/SABBottleClosuresSoda.htm) of Sodas & Beer Bottles of North America, Tod von Mechow tells us that “Riley improved the inside screw stopper by adding a protrusion to the top of the stopper that allowed for easier opening.”

Grattan & Co. Belfast IR, claimed to be the original makers of ginger ale, but no one as yet has come forward with any solid proof to dislodge Cantrell, also of Belfast, as the chemist who started it all in 1852. (Then again, who lets facts get in the way of a good story?)

There are a lot of bottles with patent information embossed, but few can compare with Grattan’s declaration that in all of Ulster County, Ireland only they can use Riley’s patent extended stopper. That claim is probably easier to prove than their one about ginger ale.

Grattan put so many words on their bottle you can’t take them all in without rotating the bottle in your hand, or taking three pictures! The last line of embossing on the heel of the bottle was too small and run together to get a legible rubbing. It reads: “Riley Manfg. Co. London, S.W.”

While Grattan had cornered the market for Riley’s in their patch, others were using it elsewhere.

Hay & Son, Aberdeen, Scotland, ca.1900s. This firm was established in 1844 and lasted until 2001. The Hays politely asked for the return of the stopper with the bottle. One account of the business relates that “all sorts of strange fluids were often stored in bottles before they were returned for their deposit money, hence the need to sniff the black moulded screw tops.”

This stoneware screw top from Burslem, England is stenciled “ginger ale”, but may well have been a ginger beer. Ginger beer, a three- or four-times removed cousin of ginger ale, did not have a high volume of carbonation, and could be bottled in stoneware. Most stoneware bottles couldn’t take the pressure of the “forced air” in soda water; particularly ginger ale which traditionally had to have a strong zing of bubbles. Perhaps some of our friends across the pond can tell us if this one is really a ginger beer and should be given the boot from my list of ginger ales.

Given Mr. Jones hails from down under, we need to take a closer look at the Wilcox Bros. Codd bottle. The Wilcoxes operated in three locations Lilydale, Dandenong and Frankston, each 30-40 km from Melbourne. Today those towns are the “suburbs” of Melbourne, but in the 1900s they were in the “country”, but not too far away by Australian standards. The tree fern “trademark” and “Truly Australian” reflects national pride, as the tree fern Cyathea cooperi, is native to Australia. This sun-colored ginger ale example is a fairly rare bottle.

Oddly enough, the only known Codd bottles embossed “ginger ale” are all from Australia.

This ad from 1878 touts the benefits of the Codd bottle as perhaps the finally-found “holy grail” of closures.

“The bottle may fairly be called the greatest invention of the age in connection with Aerated Waters, as it combines all those qualities so long sought for in a Soda Water Bottle; and we challenge any one, however biassed his opinion, to name one fault.”

Of  course, we have the benefit of hindsight to observe that while they believed that at the time, it was not to become the ultimate solution as advertised.

Ever wonder how customers were expected to push down the marble to open the bottle? Now you know.

If you didn’t have one of these, was using your thumb the alternative? The Home Brewery, established in 1875, became a massive company owning 100s of pubs around the Nottingham, England region, where they sold vast amounts of beer and ale. Apparently they did make ginger ale, but this wooden Codd bottle “opener” is the only reference to that activity, so far.

To complete the Australian connection, here’s a nod to Mr. Jones who perhaps deserves to earn a blue ribbon for his Save the Fizz; my only Sydney ginger ale bottle.

Blue Bow Ginger Ale, Tooth & Company, Ltd. Sydney.

We began this ramble talking about how early bottlers fervently sought the best way to contain that tickling zing of bubbles. No matter what; bright, crisp carbonation continued to be what the customers wanted: Soda water ain’t got a thing without that zing!

One of best descriptions of the fugitive fizz is by bottler Tom Moore of Minneapolis, MN.

This 1930s prohibition era cast iron countertop display says it quite lyrically, and of course it is for ginger ale, which certainly has a zing of its own.

Posted in Advertising, Article Publications, Bottling Works, Ephemera, Ginger Ale, Soda Bottles, Soda Water | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Panama Bitters – Meeting of the Atlantic & Pacific

Panama Bitters – Meeting of the Atlantic & Pacific

14 October 2017

Recently I watched a neat documentary on the Panama Canal on Netflix (Panama Canal: Prized Possession). A few days later I found a bitters advertisement for Panama Bitters and liked the momentary connection. To start off, I lead with the art card above labeled, “Meeting of the Atlantic & Pacific, The Kiss of the Oceans, 1915“. Pretty sensual.

It seems like I learned a great deal about America and the world as a young lad by collecting postage stamps since many stamps documented and commemorated historic events and achievements. Well there was none bigger than the Panama Canal as it is one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken.

As the art in this post illustrates, the Panama Canal is a man-made 48-mile waterway in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. France began work on the canal in 1881 but stopped due to engineering problems and a high worker mortality rate. The United States took over the project in 1904 and opened the canal on August 15, 1914. One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the Panama Canal shortcut greatly reduced the time for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, enabling them to avoid the lengthy, hazardous Cape Horn route around the southernmost tip of South America via the Drake Passage or Strait of Magellan.

Colombia, France, and later the United States controlled the territory surrounding the canal during construction. The U.S. continued to control the canal and surrounding Panama Canal Zone until the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties provided for handover to Panama. After a period of joint American–Panamanian control, in 1999 the canal was taken over by the Panamanian government and is now managed and operated by the government-owned Panama Canal Authority.

If you’re paying attention to where bottles are being dug outside of United States, you know that the Panama Canal Zone is fertile with historical bottles. Yes, they are later but none-the-less, they are there. Bitters, medicines, schnapps, spirits and everything else. Kinda-like the California gold rush, without the allure.

Even Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters commemorated the Panama Canal with this two cents United States Post Card.

Here are the two advertisements I found from 1913 capitalizing on the canal notoriety. Incredibly dirty and dark. A late bitters from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Note the phone number for A.O. Caswell. This would be Andrew O. Caswell who was a bottle. The bitters was probably black glass-like. Marketed as a bitters, medicine, cordial and tonic, they made sure they had all their bases covered. I am not aware of any bottles in collections which is odd. Be fun to see a labeled example.

Panama Bitters advertisement – The Portsmouth Herald (New Hampshire), Saturday, July 12, 1913

Panama Bitters advertisement – Fitchburg Sentinel (Massachusetts), Saturday, April 18, 1914

Here is a little information on Caswell from the History of Rockingham County, New Hampshire and Representative Citizens by Charles A. Hazlett, Richmond-Arnold Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill., 1915

ANDREW O. CASWELL, a well known merchant of Portsmouth, N. H., engaged in a bottling business at No. 50 Porter street, was born on one of the Isles of Shoals, August 23, 1871. He is one of a family of four children born to his parents, who were Andrew Jackson and Christina (Gunnison) Caswell. The father, a fisherman by occupation, died in 1876. The subject of this sketch was a child of but two years when he accompanied his parents to Portsmouth. He was educated in the public schools of this city. As soon as he was old enough to work he was obliged to help his widowed mother support the family, and accordingly found employment as clerk in a hardware business. In 1904 he entered
into his present business, in which he has since continued. He bottles local beers, and deals in liquors, wines and cordials, including whiskies of various well known brands. He is also agent for Milwaukee, Budweiser and other foreign beers, bar essences, spruce beer, tonics, etc. He has been successful in his present business and is widely known as a substantial and reliable business man. He is affiliated with the order of Elks and that of Eagles, and also belongs to the Yacht Club. Mr. Caswell married Mrs. Hattie Phinney, a widow whose maiden name was Hattie Shields. She is a daughter of William Shields, of
Portsmouth. Mrs. Caswell has two children by her first marriage, namely: A. Waldo and M. Phylis. Mr. Caswell and family are members of the North Congregational church. They have a tasteful and commodious residence at No. 60 Summer street, Portsmouth.

The only two decent product images I could find.

Circa 1910 Caswell Advertising Bottle Opener from Portsmouth, New Hampshire – Flying Tiger Antiques

Caswell bottle with porcelain top from Portsmouth, New Hampshire

The Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles is as follows:


This may want to be updated in the forthcoming Bitters Bottles Supplement 2.

Posted in Advertising, Bitters, Cordial, Ephemera, Holiday, Medicines & Cures, Postage, Tonics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dr. Jaffe’s Celebrated Cinchona Bitters Trademark Letter

Dr. Jaffe’s Celebrated Cinchona Bitters Trademark Letter

12 October 2017

Dr. Jaffe’s Celebrated Cinchona Bitters advertisement – The Record Union (Sacramento), Saturday, April 3, 1880

I came across this 1880 Dr. Jaffe’s Celebrated Cinchona Bitters advertisement above while searching for support material for another post. The brand was advertised, using pretty much the same small advertisement up until 1883 in Sacramento, California.

A quick search led me to this letter from Wm. Price & Co. from the California Secretary of State’s Office, “Old Series Trademark No. 0234. Just so cool. William Price and Co. were the sole manufacturers and proprietors. They filed for the Cinchona Bitters trademark in Sacramento, California on 12 September 1872. I am not aware of any bottles.

I have no idea who Dr. Jaffe is as he does not show up in any searches during that time period. William Price & Co. was listed in Sacramento directories from 1869 to 1874. Dr Jaffe’s was later represented by E.L. Billings & Co. up until about 1880.

The listing in Bitters Bottles is as follows:

J 15 L … Dr. Jaffe’s Celebrated Cinchona Bitters
Wm. Price & Co. Sole Mfrs. and Proprietors, Sacramento, California

Cinchona is a genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae containing at least 23 species of trees and shrubs. They are native to the tropical Andean forests of western South America. A few species are reportedly naturalized in Central America, Jamaica, French Polynesia, Sulawesi, Saint Helena in the South Atlantic, and São Tomé and Príncipe off the coast of tropical Africa. A few species are used as medicinal plants, known as sources for quinine and other compounds.

Posted in Bitters, Ephemera, History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dr. Van Dyke’s Holland Bitters and the Headless Man

Dr. Van Dyke’s Holland Bitters and the Headless Man

10 October 2017

My friend Gary Beatty forwarded the above picture and email below of possibly an unlisted variant of a Dr. Van Dyke’s Holland Bitters bottle from St. Louis, Missouri. I am not familiar with this superb example though I am familiar with other Van Dyke bottles.

I guess the bigger question here might be, “why is that guy on their registered trademark without a head?”

Hi Ferd,

Dennis Humphrey tipped us all off to a great labeled “Dr. Van Dyke’s Holland Bitters” on Ebay (pictured above). I brought it up on screen and used the “Buy it Now” option. It came from a great mutual friend of ours (Steve Ketcham) of Brrr (cold), Minnesota. Thank you Steve!

The bottle is of the same size as the V 7 L listing in Bitters Bottles except it is an entirely different mold. The inverted panels are not as beveled. The shoulders are completely sloping. Ring & Ham list a box for this bottle but not the bottle itself. It has on the label a portrait of a running headless man. In one hand is a ball and spiked chain, and in the other, a bottle of the bitters itself. With a magnifying glass, you can make out the running man on the label of the bottle in his hand. How they did that back then is incredible.

At the bottom of the label, with the aid of a magnifier, you can make out Stephens Litho, St. Louis. There is a neck label that says, “Dose, A Half Wine Glass Before Each Meal.” Embossed on the sides, “Dr. Van Dyke”, on the bottom “PATENTED JUNE 2nd 1896. It is a blown bottle and definitely a variant. I will forward info to Bill Ham.

Best Regards, Gary Beatty

I’ve got to get this out first. Who doesn’t think of Dick Van Dyke! Maybe some of you aren’t aware of the great comedian as Mary Tyler Moore‘s husband on The Dick Van Dyke Show.

With a quick search online, I found the bottom two pieces, both very illustrative of the Van Dyke bitters brand and registered trade mark. One is a trade card or label and the other looks to be a drink coaster. Both are for Dr. Van Dyke’s Holland Bitters. The top piece is listed on eBay currently as Buy it Now as 1890’s Dr. Van Dykes Holland Bitters, St. Louis, MO Monster Victorian Label F63Bitters Bottles Supplement lists this as a label as V 7.

The round piece came from Bottle Pickers where Frank Wicker has written about Van Dyke’s Bitters Company before. Bitters Bottles Supplement lists this as a label pin as V 7. It measures 1 1/2″ in diameter and is metal. Another internet auction house says this piece is a mirror.

Most bitters collectors are familiar with the Dr. Van Dyke’s Holland Bitters example type below which was found on eBay. This is the V 7 L listing in Bitters Bottles. You can see the reverse label too. I’m actually showing two examples below because of the fine image of the neck foil and cork on the top image.

The Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles is as follows:

V 7 L … Dr. Van Dyke’s Holland Bitters
DR. VAN DYKE’S //  sp // DR. VAN DYKE’S // sp // b // PATENTED (au) / motif diamond / JUNE 2ND 1896 ( )
Van Dyke’s Bitters Co., St. Louis, Missouri
Rectangular, Clear, LTCR, 4 sp
Label: Cures dyspepsia, biliousness, liver complaint, fever and ague and all diseases due to a disordered stomach. A sure preventative to malaria. It will not cure everything but it will do what is claimed for it. It is an excellent appetizer and stimulant.

Another variant which is embossed primarily “Van Dyke Bitters Co.” is pictured below. Sometimes I crop away the background so we can focus on the bottle. I’ve seen three examples of these rare bottles. John Feldmann had one (I believe), Frank Wicker has one and the example below is from Ellen Haas Faulkenberry up St. Louis way.

The Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles is as follows:

V 8 L … Dr. Van Dyke’s Tonic and Purifying Bitters
11 x 2 3/4
Square case gin, Clear, LTC
Public Ledger (Philadelphia) February 4, 1870 (I doubt this is for the same bottle)

Below is a fantastic diecut advertising trade card from the Joe Gourd Collection. You can clearly see the trademark and details.

Here is a shipping crate below I found on eBay. This is also listed in Bitters Bottles on page 549. There is also a Box of Playing Cards, Funnel and a Pitcher listed for Dr. Van Dyke’s Holland Bitters in Bitters Bottles.

Here is a super Dr. Van Dyke’s Holland Bitters paper advertisement, framed under glass. Features the trademark headless guy in upper left. Litho in Buffalo, NY.  25 – 3/4″ x 19 – 1/4″. – Dan Morphy Auctions

A Van Dyke Bitters Co. Weekly Time Book from the Joe Gourd collection is represented below.

OK, let’s embark on a little journey and see what we’ve got to look at as far as support material on the headless man. First of all, Van Dyke (or Vandyke, van Dyck) is a surname of Dutch or Flemish origin. Second, Holland Bitters first made an appearance in the United States around 1854.

With “Holland Bitters” in the name, one might think first of Boerhaves Holland Bitters (pictured below) from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Not so. Their advertising also does not reference a man without a head. There is a clue here as their trademark has the lions, crown and shield. Hey the Dr. Van Dyke’s bitters, with the headless man also has a lion on the left and a caveman (man with head) or something on the right. When looking into the shield above you want to see the headless man. Actually, it is a horse on raised hind legs. I wonder if this was the inspiration for the St. Louis trademark logo?

One of my newspaper searches (below) actually contains the Boerhave’s Holland Bitters advertising with a Van Dyke name. Who is Mary Van Sliedrecht, daughter of Van Dyke? Dead end there.

Boerhave’s Holland Bitters advertisement. – The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer (Virginia), Saturday, May 18 1861

Actually, I believe the man to the right on the chest graphics is the headless man. He just has his head. They both seem to be wearing loin cloths. So why is he headless and running with a medieval flail weapon in one hand and a bottle of Van Dyke’s Holland Bitters in the other hand? I really have no solid explanation. It has to be here somewhere. Obviously, running around all over the place with seemingly no aim or purpose is tied to the phrase “run around like a headless chicken”. Could it be that simple? I doubt it.

Interestingly, there is a Pennsylvania link as there was a Dr. Van Dyke’s Tonic and Purifying Bitters being advertised in Philadelphia in 1870. See ad below. Notice the doctor is called “Dr. Van Kyke” in the ad! That’s pretty funny. Is this the predecesor or inspiration? I bet it is! The “Dr. Van Dyke’s Tonic and Purifying Bitters” is the same copy on a label of a later St. Louis variant. See V 8 L above. Dr. James M. Van Dyke was a physician listed in Philadelphia city directories from 1871 to 1878. His earliest appearance is 1861 in the directory.

Dr. Van Dyke’s Tonic and Purifying Bitters advertisement – The Evening Telegraph (Philadelphia), Wednesday, July 13, 1870

As an aside, the running headless man makes me think of a Sarracena Life Bitters and a Triskelion (pictured below). We’ve got the head here. We’re just missing the torso and arms!

Here are some other bottle examples and advertising from our Dr. Van Dyke’s Bitters from St. Louis. Most examples display the running, headless man. The small, low res example below has contents. I believe it was auctioned by Glass Works Auctions at some point in the past.

The earliest Van Dyke’s Holland Bitters record I can find in Saint Louis is from a previous post I did called Cincinnati Bitters Spotting – A cross reference of directories. Here you will find a refertence to a Holland Bitters, Henry VanDyke, 1858.

Pictured above on the left is an Internal Revenue 2 ½ cent tax stamp issued for the Van Dyke Bitters Co., St Louis in 1898 along with a 1 cent Internal Revenue stamp sur-printed with “V.D.B.” for Van Dyke Bitters.

In the 1860 United States Federal Census, Henry VanDyke was listed as an agent. He was 36 years old and from Holland. He was born in 1824. His wife was named Jane and was from Prussia. A child was listed as Sophia. They lived in Ward 10, St Louis (Independent City), Missouri. Stamp images courtesy of Bottle Pickers. Was VanDyke really a doctor? Probably not. Just a hunch. I suspect he was related to Dr. James M. Van Dyke from Philadelphia. James was the inventor and proprietor. Henry was his agent for distribution. Maybe brothers?

There might be a tendency to say this might be Henry Jackson van Dyke Jr. (November 10, 1852 – April 10, 1933) who was an American author, poet, educator, and clergyman. It is not the same man for obvious reasons.

Looking at some later newspaper advertising below, we see the headless man prominantly noted as their registered trade mark. It appears in ads across the United States starting around 1901.

Dr. Van Dykes Holland Bitters advertisement- The Anaconda Standard, Sunday, July 7, 1901

Dr. Van Dyke’s Holland Bitters advertisement – Detroit Free Press, Sunday, July 7, 1901

Dr. Van Dyke’s Holland Bitters advertisement – Reading Times, Monday, July 11, 1904

In conclusion, for the moment, I do not have a concrete answer for the running, headless man. If you look at the ads above, they ask you to mail them for a “Dr. Van Dyke’s Dream Book and Fortune Teller” or “Weekly Time Book”. I suspect the answer might lie within the Dream Book. Update: I understand the answer is not within the Weekly Time Book based on a communication from Joe Gourd.

Our best bet is to look at Blemmyes, the headless men of ancient and medieval mythology. Various species of mythical headless men were rumored, in antiquity and later, to inhabit remote parts of the world. They are variously known as akephaloi and described as lacking a head, with their facial features on their chest. These were at first described as inhabitants of the Nile system. Later traditions confined their habitat to a particular island in the Brisone River or shifted it to India.

Blemmyes are said to occur in two types: with eyes on the chest or with the eyes on the shoulders. Epiphagi, a variant name for the headless people of the Brisone, is sometimes used as a term referring strictly to the eyes-on-the-shoulders type. [Wikipedia]

Note that the Blemmyes below is holding a club and something in his hand. With our headless man with the crest and eyes on his chest, we may have our source here for the trademark.

Joe Gourd, after reading the initial post, comments that the image on the man’s chest is intriguing and looked to him like a heraldry crest. Van Dyke’s being a Holland Bitters, he did a Google search and came up with a very similar Coat of Arms for the town of Sneek in the province of Friesland (Netherlands). See below.

Joe notes that the man carries a club, is bearded, bare chested, dressed in a loin cloth and is pictured with a lion. Although Joe could not uncover who the man is in the coat of arms, there existed a legendary warrior in the town’s history by the name of Pier Gerlofs Donia (ca. 1480-1529).

According to Wikipedia, Donia was known for his superhuman strength and size. “A tower of a fellow as strong as an ox, of dark complexion, broad shouldered, with a long black beard and moustache”. Donia was also noted for the ability to wield his great sword so efficiently that he could behead multiple people with it in a single blow. A painting that accompanies this reference actually shows him about to behead one of his hapless enemies.

Joe says, “Could the image on both Van Dyke’s headless man’s chest and the Sneek coat of arms be that of Pier Gerlofs Donia? I don’t know. If true, is the headless man Donia’s victim or a depiction of Donia’s karma (albeit a different weapon)? Again, I don’t know. But in any event it has been fun to opine on this mystery, thanks to you.”

Oh, the subject bottle at the top of the post appears to be unlisted as Gary asserts. Bill Ham may want to list in the forthcoming Bitters Bottles Supplement 2.

Posted in Advertising, Bitters, eBay, Ephemera, Gin, History, Medicines & Cures, Questions, Tax Stamps, Trade Cards | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daily Dose | October • December 2 0 1 7

October  December  |  2 0 1 7

20 November 2017 | Monday

Some cool Bromo Seltzer material. Working on a piece about Private Die Proprietary Medicine Stamps and related tax stamps for Bottles and Extras. The Bromo Seltzer Tower dominates the Baltimore skyline at dusk in the early 1930s. I used to find the blue bottles asa kid growing up in Baltimore.

18 November 2017 | Saturday

I like this super Dr. Harter’s Wild Cherry Bitters piece in the current American Glass Gallery Auction.

Read: Dr. Harter’s Wild Cherry Bitters and the Bottle Gods

17 November 2017 | Friday

HECKLER SELECT AUCTION 157. This great piece sold this week and met high auction estimate. Lot: 2 Masonic Arch And Emblems – Eagle And “J.K / B.” Historical Flask, Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks, Keene, New Hampshire, 1815-1830. Striated pinky plum puce in the lower half shading to greenish ginger ale in the upper half, tooled flared mouth – pontil scar, pint; (light exterior high point wear). GIV-3 Here’s a real zinger! Fantastic color combination, bold mold impression, and it’s in fine condition.
Estimate: $20,000 – $40,000 Minimum bid: $10,000
Price Realized: $40,000

16 November 2017 | Thursday

Dear Ferdinand,

Whilst recently doing some family genealogical research, I found that one of my Skiles progenitors, James Rumsey Skiles, had been one of the “notables” providing early testimonials on behalf of Prices’ potion.

This stimulated my interest (since “Col” Skiles moved from Kentucky to Texas about the same time as the rise of the Texas Tonic to national prominence, and he spent quite a lot of time in New Orleans and Galveston … and Louisville [I noted your seeming surprise that the fine bottle was found in Louisville, but attention to the fact that one of the earliest ‘shills’ for the product was a testimonial by Skiles … from L-O-U-I-S-V-I-L-L-E), and he apparently became a good friend with the Prices … if not their agent-in-fact).

So, in pursuing the history (and demise) of Texas Tonic, more fully, I ‘accidentally’ ran-across the attached ad which explains what happened to the remaining stock of the product (after Price had sold-out) … the entire stock was burnt-up in one of the seemingly perpetual fires in New Orleans in those days (when the simplest-and-surest way to “sell” a spoiled or obsolete stock-of-goods that couldn’t be sold was to insure it … and set it alight).

(Even as a retired professional archaeologist and historical researcher) I must say I am very impressed with the quality of your research on the bottles (& patent-medicines they contained … as well as your development of the “whole story” … filling-out the historical background and description of the attendant cultural mileau) on your PeachridgeGlass.com site … and this has been a goad to me to try and assist you with this additional info.

Best wishes for your success,

Bob Skiles
Austin, Texas

Read: The incredible Price’s Patent Texas Tonic

15 November 2017 | Wednesday

Ferdinand, Attached is an 1867 “editorial” excoriating Red Jacket Bitters (and the [further?] “desecration” of the Marshall [Harrison County, Texas] City Cemetery by the company’s penchant for hanging their advertising on any available fence … even cemetery fences] … enjoy … Regards,

Bob Skiles
Austin, Texas

Read: Red Jacket Bitters – Another Chicago ‘Indian’

The Texas Republican (Marshall, Texas) · Saturday, Jan 26, 1867

Hi Ferdinand, just wanted to show you a bitters I dug in New Orleans this past Sunday. I was contacted by Lisa M., who is the great granddaughter of I. L. Lyons, when she saw the bottle on Ebay. Here are some pics. The bottle has no damage and gorgeous iridescence. Enjoy the pics!

Mike Burkett
Long Beach, Mississippi

PRG Note: Ball Lyons & Co. was William Ball and Ezekial Lyons. They were druggists in New Orleans around 1873 and 1874. They were succeeded by I.L. Lyons & Co. (1875-1879). They were wholesale and retail druggists. 

08 November 2017 | Wednesday

Texas Ranger Bitters Advertisement – The Indianola Weekly Bulletin, 15 August 1871

Hello Ferd: I found a couple of ads for a bitters that would seem to be from Texas. I searched the archives on your website, but found no mention of this brand, so I thought I would send the info to you. Best Regards; 

Corey Stock

Texas Ranger Bitters Advertisement – The Indianola Weekly Bulletin, 05 December 1871

Update: Ferdinand, I saw the advertisements you posted online for the Texas Ranger Bitters…very cool!  Henry Seeligson (Suligson in some documents) was a wholesale grocer and commission merchant in Indianola until around the September 15, 1875 hurricane. He was quite wealthy, having a listed personal estate and real estate value of $98,000 in the 1870 census for Indianola. After the hurricane he moved to Galveston; he carried on the same commission merchant business in Galveston as well as becoming a banker in Galveston. He was born in Pennsylvania on June 8, 1828 and was already in Texas with his older brother Lewis working as a merchant in the 1850 census. He married Anna Sophia Garlick on July 20, 1852 in Galveston, Texas. He died on March 24, 1887 in Corpus Christi, Texas (of typhoid) and is buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Galveston. 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find a bottle! Certainly would be the quintessential Texas bottle if he had embossed bottles. Of course most of Indianola is underwater in Matagorda Bay these days.

Best Regards,

Brandon DeWolfe, P.E.
Houston, Texas

Update:  The new listing by Bill Ham for the forthcoming Bitters Bottles Supplement 2:

T 14.6 TEXAS RANGER BITTERS, For sale by H. Seeligson & Co., Sole Agents
Henry Seeligson (Suligson in some documents) was a wholesale grocer and commission merchant in Indianola until around the September 15, 1875 hurricane. After the hurricane he moved to Galveston. He died on March 24, 1887 in Corpus Christi, Texas.

06 November 2017 | Monday

A nice image of a Tippecanoe figural cabin flask, VII-2, donated by an anonymous collector for the FOHBC Virtual Museum project. Photograph by Alan DeMaison.

02 November 2017 | Thursday

Jeff Wichmann: So I didn’t tell many people that the green Eastern Cider in our recent auction was dug by me as a 15-year old in Aptos. There was a dump near the Post Office and we found a lot of stuff, a number of Eastern Ciders. Bob West found out about it and drove to my house and offered me $40 for it which I accepted. I sold his collection and it ended up selling to another collector as Bob wouldn’t sell it to me. Ken Salazar somehow ended up with it and unbeknownst to me the bottle I found as a youngster was sitting in my office ready for the auction. I told Dennis Fox, my bottling partner about it and he put a sizable bid in at the end of the auction and to my astonishment I have it back after an almost 50 year hiatus.

These pictures are ones sent to me from Jeff Watts of Hawaii. I am astonished at how beautiful his E.C.’s are and all of his sodas are. So it took a lot of time and a lot of money but I can finally rest knowing I have probably the best bottle I ever found back on my shelf. It’s the first bottle I’ve (Dennis) ever won in my own auction. I have a policy of not bidding in my own sale. I’m sure glad Dennis did. The single photo is my new addition.


01 November 2017 | Wednesday

Working on laying out an article called Jamaica Champagne Beer by Eric McGuire in the January February issue of Bottles and Extras. There is reference to a Triumph Bitters that may be unlisted. The listing below is from a San Francisco 1885 city directory for David Lopez da Fonseca.

Bill Ham provides the following for Bitters Bottles Supplement 2

T 57.1 TRIUMP BITTERS, D. L.Fonsea, mnfr, 223 Stevenson
San Francisco 1885 city directory for David Lopez da Fonseca

27 October 2017 | Friday

Post update for the Hercules Bitters with new catalog number by Bill Ham, Hungarian version, advertising trade cards from Joe Gourd and an advertisement from Corey Stock. Go Astros!

25 October 2017 | Wednesday

Can you dig it! Four (4) different J. BOARDMAN NEW YORK MINERAL WATERS “B” in various shades of puce. Each with applied tapered top and iron pontil in the recent American Bottle Auctions Auction #64.

16 October 2017 | Monday


Enjoyed your recent posts on Panama Bitters and the Canal Zone. 

Everything is from where you sit, whether it’s in a hotel in downtown Houston or the Panama Canal. As an example, here’s a Polar brand ginger ale from Panama. Looking at the graphic on the bottle, us northern hemispherians instinctively think of the arctic pole.  However, the Panama Coca-Cola bottling company chose to look to the south, and put Antarctica on their bottle.  Everything is from where you sit. . .

K. (Ken Previtali)

14 October 2017 | Saturday

Back in Houston. Rockets game last night and Astros Yankees ALCS game today. Staying downtown at the JW Marriott. Just posted on Panama Bitters.

Here is he new cover for the November December issue of Bottles and Extras. At the printer now.

12 October 2017 | Thursday

Added this cool label to the El Aliso, Jean Louis and Pierre Sainsevain and their California Wine Bitters post from 2013. Look for a post later today on Dr. Jaffe’s Celebrated Cinchona Bitters.

11 October 2017 | Wednesday

Concerned about Richard & Bev Siri (and others) out in Santa Rosa ands surrounding wine country. Crazy, just crazy. Richard reports:


Were OK now but there are still concerns. Lots of smoke around us and ashes falling on our house so I’ve got three sprinklers up on the roof and have been cleaning up the leaves around the place. We have lots of trees. My son Rick was evacuated but he’s OK today. I know several people that did lose their homes including my ex brother in law and my estimators daughter. When they tell you to grab what you can and get out it would be Bev and the dog. Would hate to see the stuff I have go up in smoke so much of it is not replaceable. I do have insurance but what do you do with money.


Sporting KC vs Dynamo MLS soccer match hear later today. Great weather in Houston. Off to Fort Worth for the next few days after match tonight.

From John Pastor at American Glass Gallery:

Just received a call, out of the blue this past Thursday, on a rare bitters found in the eaves of an old barn in Maine. We picked it up on Saturday afternoon. It’s a Russ’ Stomach Bitters New York”, R-127. Absolutely pristine condition. Great story to go with it. Is actually one of the last items that we will be including in our November Sale.

Read: Russ’ Stomach Bitters – A New York Lady’s Leg

Bill Ham: Please consider a new Ring & Ham number in Bitters Bottles Supplement 2 for Dr. Van Dyke’s Tonic and Purifying Bitters. This is different than the one listed. The advertisement below is from The Evening Telegraph (Philadelphia), Wednesday, July 13, 1870. From the Dr. Van Dyke’s post yesterday.

Interestingly, there is a Pennsylvania link as there was a Dr. Van Dyke’s Tonic and Purifying Bitters being advertised in Philadelphia in 1870. See ad below. Notice the doctor is called “Dr. Van Kyke” in the ad! That’s pretty funny. Is this the predecesor or inspiration? I bet it is! The “Dr. Van Dyke’s Tonic and Purifying Bitters” is the same copy on a label of a later St. Louis variant. See V 8 L above. Dr. James M. Van Dyke was a physician listed in Philadelphia city directories from 1871 to 1878. His earliest appearance is 1861 in the directory.

10 October 2017 | Tuesday

Working out of the house today. Finishing an interesting post on Dr. Van Dyke’s Holland Bitters from St. Louis and trying to get the November December issue of Bottles and Extras out the door. In the meantime, here is an interesting newsletter from 1981 that reviews Carlyn Ring’s “For Bitters Only” book.

09 October 2017 | Monday

Sorry I have been away for so long. Recovering from Harvey I guess. Living a nomadic life away from norms. This copy below appears in the next issue of Bottles and Extras in the President’s Message. It kind of sums things up.

Ok, now for some gallows or dark humor. Back in early August, I was contacted by a lovely young woman from The History Channel. They wanted to talk to me about an upcoming series on collecting and possibly visit the collection in Houston. We talked and I said every bottle has a story. I did mention that the collection was previously featured on an episode of Extreme Collectors but that did not seem to deter her. Well, things happened. We had a fateful appointment with a fellow named Harvey and I was offline and away from my world for a number of days. When I finally looked at my emails and phone messages, she had been trying to reach me to schedule a Skype web interview. My reply was simple… “OK. Underwater at the moment😩” Her reply was “Sounds fun! Let me know when you’ve come up for air!”. Ha. That was a good one. I didn’t reply as survival was on my immediate list of things to do. A few days, later another email came in saying, “Oh my gosh…. I did not even realize you were in Houston! I misunderstood what you were saying in the last email. Stay safe!”
Well, we’ve now had a 100-year flood, 500-year flood and now this 1,000-year flood in a year and a half. Don’t put any stock into that baloney. There are changes in our environment, our natural world and with the millions of acres of development that have occurred on the vast rice fields, prairies and natural vegetation that once absorbed our downpours. This last one took the cake. I stopped measuring with my rain gauge when the raised urn and gauge floated away at 30”. That’s biblical. We are now considering raising the house or razing the house.
Elizabeth and I thank you all for the concern and well-wishes we received. I have been asked many times if any bottles broke? Actually, only one bottle broke. A figural barrel fell off a higher shelf and broke on my head. Probably a message there somewhere. No, it wasn’t a Headache Bitters! Lions, tigers and bears, oh my!

Make sure you read the latest post on Haven’s Tonic Bitters. What do you think? Was this label applied?

Martin Van Zant sends in the following for Dr. Henley’s Celebrated IXL Bitters, “I ran across these two ads from 1888, out of a flyer for plays, musicals or something of that nature. Thought you know more people out west and could share. These may be common, but I thought it was neat.”

Reminds me of the great Henley’s article in Bottles and Extras. READ

Posted in Advice, Daily Dose, News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Haven’s Tonic Bitters I recently picked up from an Arkansas collector

A Haven’s Tonic Bitters I recently picked up from an Arkansas collector

07 October 2017

Here is an email and bottle images below from fellow bitters collector and friend Gary Beatty down central Florida way. I’m a bit suspicious that this label was applied later to this bottle. The top image is an exact replication of Gary’s label found in my collection. Anybody have any thoughts?

Ferd, here is the HAVEN’S TONIC BITTERS I recently picked up from an Arkansas collector. He purchased it at a flea market 25 years ago. He listed it as Stoddard Glass? I don’t think so? I believe either Lancaster or Lockport? But in the end who knows. I chose those two glass house possibilities because of the color. It of course is green. It is 9 inches tall by 3 ¼ inches across the base which has a open pontil. As you can see the label is original. It is reported that Norm Heckler sold one in the same shape and open pontil but in amber in the 1990s. The dealer did not know where it was from. I noticed at the bottom of the label the address was “Willie & Cross Street.” I thought there can’t be two addresses like that so I Googled it and it came up Lowell, Mass. There was a druggist named H. L. Haven and he had a Haven’s Cough Syrup also.

Hope you will share this with the fellows on Facebook. I call it forest green? PS, I’ll bet John Wolf the Cure collector from Ohio doesn’t have this one. I would appreciate your perspective on it.

Best Regards, Gary Beatty

A labeled Haven’s Tonic Bitters – Gary Beatty collection

Haven’s Tonic Bitters base pontil – Gary Beatty collection

Gary is certainly right with his detective work. The intersection of Willie and Cross Street is in Lowell, Massachusetts and there was a druggist named Herbert L. Haven at this location. He also had a “ Haven’s Cough Syrup” that is pictured below. That label looks a little suspicious too.

The Haven’s is only listed as H 71.5 L… Haven’s Tonic Bitters in Bitters Bottles.

Haven’s Cough Syrup – H. L. Haven Druggist.Lowell, Mass.

Here is a directory listing for Herbert L. Haven.

Herbert L. Haven, Apothecaries, Willie, cor. Cross – 1884 Lowell, Mass City Directory

Select Listings:

1878: Herbert L. Haven, Clerk, Willie, 213 Central – Lowell, Mass City Directory
1880: Herbert L. Haven, Clerc, Willie, 63 Bridge, rooms 190 Merrimac – Lowell, Mass City Directory
1883: Herbert L. Haven, Apothecary, Willie, cor. Cross, bds. 58 – Lowell, Mass City Directory
1884-85: Herbert L. Haven, Apothecaries, Willie, cor. Cross – Lowell, Mass City Directory
Posted in Advertising, Apothecary, Bitters, Collectors & Collections, Druggist & Drugstore, History, Questions, Tonics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The donated bottle display that I spoke of at the national show

The donated bottle display that I spoke of at the national show

17 August 2017

Hi Ferdinand:

These photo’s are of the permanent display that I assembled for the East Hartford Public Library with the help of many collectors on Facebook. The document was partially written and signed by William Pitkin in 1763. It represents Connecticut glass so as to encourage interest in history and our hobby.

You may find the story of the creation of the display interesting. I also recently donated a display to the National Bottle Museum. The last photo is a display that I donated to the Town of Colchester, Connecticut. I had a camera store there in the 1980s and collected local bottles and gave them to the Colchester Historical Society.

Jerry “Dyott” Dauphinais

PS: If you go to Facebook and search “pitkin project”, you’ll see some of the efforts for my endeavor.


Posted in Advice, Collectors & Collections, Display, Early American Glass, History | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dr. Maton’s Celebrated Stomach Bitters

Dr. Maton’s Celebrated Stomach Bitters

Reinfried & Lesher – Lancaster, Pennsylvania

17 July 2017

I decided to pull the trigger on the damaged Dr. Maton’s Celebrated Stomach Bitters on eBay as it is just so darn rare and I have only seen one other example. It is pictured above. Not in pristine shape and described as “Here’s a rare 1870s bitters bottle from Lancaster, Pa….unfortunately, it was broken at some point in the past and glued back together. However, the bottle actually displays pretty decent from a couple sides so I thought someone might want it.”

It’s been a long hot summer and I just needed a bitters I suppose.

The brand was sold by Reinfried & Lesher in Lancaster, Pennsylvania from around 1868 to 1870. Lancaster produced quite a few bitters as you can see from the 1869 Lancaster Directory listing below. This includes the Dr. Green’s Stomach Bitters (Danner Green), Mishler’s Herb Bitters, Mishler’s Keystone Bitters, Rohrer’s Expectoral Wild Cherry Tonic (Bitters), Schroeitzer Bitters, Dr. Echternach’s Bitters and Dr. Jacob Long’s Tonic and Alterative Bitters. The Green’s and Long Bitters may be unlisted. I have posted about a few of them before.

Lancaster Bitters Manufacturers – 1869 Lancaster Directory listing

Dr. B. H. Kauffman Stomach Bitters – Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Canteen Bitters – John Hart & Co. – Lancaster PA

Jeremiah Rohrer – Nolt Collection of Whiskey Memorabilia

Griel’s Herb Bitters – Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Ash Tonic Bitters – John C. Horting, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Dr. Stoever’s Bitters – Lancaster & Philadelphia

Mishler’s Herb Bitters and The Mishler Family

The Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing for Dr. Maton in Bitters Bottles is as follows:

9 5/8 x 2 5/8 (7 1/8) 3/8
Square, Amber, LTCR, Applied Mouth, 3 sp, Extremely rare
Label: Aromatic tonic, and considered by the highest medical authorities as the best invigorating cordial ever… compounded for the weak and debilitated constitutions. Try one bottle and be convinced. The tonic cordial contains nothing that can injure the most delicate constitution but on the contrary its use will be followed by the greatest beneficial results.

Like may bitters of the time period and locale, The Dr. Maton’s product was struggling to find the right marketing niche. Was it a cordial, tonic or bitters? The 1868 advertisement below for Dr. Maton’s Bitter Tonic Cordial covers all bases with less of an emphasis on bitters. The following advertisement in 1869, uses the full Dr. Matons Celebrated Stomach Bitters name as embossed on the bottle.

Dr. Maton’s Bitter Tonic Cordial – Reading Times, Wednesday, September 2, 1868

Dr. Matons Celebrated Stomach Bitters advertisement. – 1869-70 Directory of Lancaster County

Dr. Maton’s Celebrated Stomach Bitters – Nolt Collection – Conestoga Auction Company

Dr. Maton’s Celebrated Stomach Bitters – Nolt Collection – Conestoga Auction Company

So who was Dr. Maton? I have no clue. I do find an obscure reference in 1810. Working on it now.

Select Listings:

1868: Dr. Matons Celebrated Stomach Bitters advertisement. – 1869-70 Directory of Lancaster County
1869-70: REINFRIED & CO., wines & liquors, and manuf. Dr. Matons Bitters, 114 and 116 N Queen – Directory of Lancaster County
Posted in Advertising, Bitters, Cordial, History, Medicines & Cures, Tonics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The back story to Saving the Fizz

How an interest that started almost 50 years ago manifested into a book on patent bottle closures

The back story to Saving the Fizz

09 July 2017

Portrait of David Jones who collects antique glass and stoneware for Collector column. Photograph by Tamara Dean

My name is David Jones, a name that has always brought some comment as it is also the name of a famous 180-year-old department store in Sydney, Australia, where I also live. No, I am not related and I cannot give you a discount.

In Australia as elsewhere in the world 180 years ago, men, and a few women too, were wrestling with a better way to retain the effervescence of bottled mineral waters and carbonated and fermented beverages – something that would represent an improvement on the old wedged cork then used. Almost certainly all also hoped that their invention was going to make them very wealthy but only a relatively few succeeded.

From around 1968, I have been a bottle collector and have always had a fascination for the history that was attached to the items I acquired. That interest kindled a 30-year project that culminated in 2009 with the self-publication of Thirsty Work: A History of the Sydney Soft Drink Industry (www.thirstywork.com.au). At 1040 pages, it covered the social and industrial history of some 560 individuals and companies associated with the industry in Sydney, from the earliest days of convict settlement until after WWII and, in some cases, beyond.

I retired from a life-long career in advertising in 2003 and six years later with Thirsty Work completed, I looked for my next project. As a collector I ended up specialising in soft drink bottles from Sydney and its suburbs among whose numbers were a score or more different patent bottles. Oddly shaped bottles with fascinating closures. I wanted to find out more. Who was responsible for such fanciful contrivances and when were they invented? Where did they fit in the evolution from the humble cork?

My search led me to the discovery that although there were a few books on the subject, all were somewhat parochial, incomplete, mostly out of date or, in some very early publications, just plain wrong.

My idea was to not only set the record straight, but to produce a work whereby a collector, historian or archaeologist would have a handy field guide whereby one could easily search for and quickly identify a particular patent closure. Based on my then limited knowledge I first envisaged this could be achieved in not more than around 100 or 150 pages. However, having once started I was on a steep learning curve and realised that I would have to revise my estimate to around 300 pages. But little did I realise just how many patents were out there worldwide and the work steadily grew to 624 pages! Hardly a handy pocket field guide but nevertheless one volume that included the full gamut of closure types; from the humble cork to internally-stoppered bottles, ledge-mouth stoppers, long-plug stoppers, spindle and spring wire stoppers, swing wire stoppers such as the “Lightning”, internal and external screw closures, the crown cork seal and its scores of imitators, through to interactive devices and after-market re-sealers. And, just for good measure, a few enigmatic oddities thrown in.

So what does fill a book of 624 pages?

Measuring 310mm x 220mm (12.5” x 9”), the hardcover, full-colour, book features some 2,500 patents and is richly illustrated with over 4,925 images.

It is broadly arranged into types of closures as briefly outlined above. In each section the closures are listed roughly chronologically, each with its patent number and date and who patented it. In almost all cases, the original specification drawings are reproduced and, where they exist, photographs of bottles and closures are also included. The text explains how the patent worked, a brief history of the patentee, the closure’s success, or failure, and any other relevant information.

For example, did you know that the inventor of the wire swing stopper was a guitar-playing, Swedish libertine who was a trained watchmaker but, apparently through a series of fortunate and somewhat controversial events, in January 1875 designed and patented the swing stopper? One that would later evolve into the famous “Lightning” stopper!
Why were Hiram Codd’s globe-stoppered bottles accepted worldwide except in the United States where they only received scant approval among bottlers?

Why did Charles Hutchinson’s spring wire stopper rule supreme among soda water bottlers in the United States?

Henry Barrett who was originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands has long been credited as the inventor of the internal screw stopper in 1878. However, a Scottish merchant designed a method by which internal screw threads could be made in bottles as early as 1843. And, Englishman Thomas Kendall patented a bottle whose neck was formed with an internal screw thread to take a compressed cork screw stopper. But the first internal screw stopper known to have reached production was that of American Amasa Stone in 1861 – 17 years before Barrett!

The man responsible for inventing the famous safety razor in 1904, King Gillette, was also granted patents for several caps that could also be used on what would become the ubiquitous crown seal bottle. Its original cork seal cap made its 1892 inventor William Painter a very wealthy man and to whom bottlers have been forever grateful.

Which well-known New York patentee was found shot dead in his bath?

Who was the world’s most prolific inventor?

What city had the title of being the patent capital of the world?

When was the crown cap can introduced?

What possessed Londoner Anton Schon to produce his oddity?

What’s the difference between the ledge-mouth internal stoppers of Léon Vallet and John Lamont?

Where was the earliest known external-screw thread bottle found?

The answer, I am sure, will surprise you as will the answers to these questions and many more. But, to discover them, you will have to buy Saving the Fizz.

So, how does that whet your thirst?

Posted in Advertising, Advice, Bottling Works, Collectors & Collections, History, Hutches, Mineral Water, News, Patents, Publications, Soda Bottles, Soda Water, Soft Drinks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment