The Perfect Name for a Barrel…Old Sachem Bitters and Wigwam Tonic

Old Sachem Poster

Old Sachem

Label: From an old Indian recipe in possession of the family of the proprietor for upwards of a century is now offered to the public as one of the most healthy and wholesale beverages extant and as a tonic is unsurpassed. Sold by principal grocers, druggists and hotels throughout the union. Endorsed by a professor at Yale College. Drug Catalog: 1871, Schieffelin New Haven Daily News, April 7, 1859, Harpers Weekly, October 8, 1859.

Old Sachem / Bitters / And / Wigwam Tonic is usually about 9 1/2 inches tall with a smooth base. It is also known with a blowpipe pontil in 9 1/2 and 9 3/4-inch heights, as well as a 10 1/4-inch aqua variant with a blowpipe pontil. An array of shades of colors with smooth bases also exist.

According to Dr. Richard Cannon, there is a broadside of Old Sachem Bitters and Wigwam Tonic (pictured above), which has been reproduced. It pictures a stern Indian Chief who appears to be very strong and armed for battle. There’s an Indian village in the background with warring Indians and settlers on the outskirts. Above, it gives Geo. Hunnewell, Agent, New York, and below, Wm. Goodrich, New York. Just under the picture in small print is Lith. of Sarony, Major & Knapp, 449 Broadway, N. York. Also in cursive writing in the lower margin is Deposited in Clerk’s Office, Southern Dist., New York, Aug. 5, 1859 and then stamped 25 Nov. 1859.

Apparently George Hunnewell was not the same person as John L. or Joseph W. Hunnewell of Boston who began to put out Hunnewell’s Tolu Anodyne and Universal Cough Remedy in the 1840s. We know that William Goodrich was the proprietor and was located at 145 Water Street. Old Sachem Bitters & Wigwam Tonic was advertised in April, 1859. I do not know how early the product appeared, but probably earlier that 1859. Merrick and Moore Company was in control of the brand when they appeared in the New Haven, Conn. City Directories, 1864-1867. Mr. Merrick resided in several of the local hotels during this period.

Six Old Sachem Bitters

Old Sachem Bitters Color Run - Meyer Collection

About Ferdinand Meyer V

Ferdinand Meyer V is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and has a BFA in Fine Art and Graphic Design from the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design. Ferdinand is the founding Principal of FMG Design, a nationally recognized design consultation firm. Ferdinand is a passionate collector of American historical glass specializing in bitters bottles, color runs and related classic figural bottles. He is married to Elizabeth Jane Meyer and lives in Houston, Texas with their daughter and three wonderful grandchildren. The Meyers are also very involved in Quarter Horses, antiques and early United States postage stamps. Ferdinand is the past 6-year President of the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors and is one of the founding members of the FOHBC Virtual Museum.
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One Response to The Perfect Name for a Barrel…Old Sachem Bitters and Wigwam Tonic

  1. Warren Friedrich says:

    In my research for my book, I ran across a lot of newspaper advertisements for eastern bottled products. Particularly during the “gold rush” years, several early California papers were full of ads for products being imported from the East. Among them were ads for Old Sachem’s Bitters and Wigwam Tonic. Advertisements for this product are seen in California papers in the years 1856.

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