Dr. Atherton’s Dew Drop Bitters
05 May 2011 (R•051814) (R•072918) (R•100718)
At the Heckler Columbus Day Saturday Field Event (see info on 2011 event) in 2006, I was greeted by a number a collector contacts and friends who said that an Atherton’s Dew Drop Bitters was on site. Quick navigation led to the front seat of Greg Bair’s car. Greg gently unwrapped his new find and I almost dropped over. Boy is this baby rare and a beauty. Some quick negotiations and the bottle was mine. The bottle is pictured at the top of the post and at Greg’s place further below.
In a follow-up email on 14 October 2006 Greg further states…
Hi Ferdinand, It was great seeing you last weekend, both at Norm’s and Keene NH. Here’s a selection of photos (see below) that we took of your bitters bottle off our back porch. Hope you can use one of them in the AWESOME catalog of your collection. It was a pleasure doing business with you and we’ll keep you in mind if we come across another great bitters bottle. I found the pictures of the bottle prior to having it cleaned; I’ll send them to you if you can email me with a mailing address. Give me a call when you have a chance and we can talk about where we dug and found the bottle. The date we uncovered it was December 19, 2004.
The Carlyn Ring and Bill Ham listing in Bitters Bottles Supplement:
A 106 DR. ATHERTON’S DEW DROP BITTERS, Circa 1866,
DR ATHERTON’S // DEW DROP // BITTERS // sp // near base // 1866 // LOWELL // MASS // sp //
10 x 3 (6 3/4) 1/2
Square, Yellow olive and Green, LTC, 4 sp, Applied mouth, Extremely rare,
Note: Manufactured by E. Mishler, 405 Penn St., Reading, Pa. on “Dew Drop Bitters” sign dated 1868.
Dr. Abel T. Atherton
Not much is known about this bitters though we can find advertising in Massachusetts in 1867 for Dr. Atherton’s Medicated Dew Drop Bitters.
Abel T. Atherton (born about 1840 in Massachusetts) was a Chemist in Lowell, Massachusetts where he put out his brand under T. Atherton & Son. He was a young 27 years old at that time. Previously he was accountant. His parents were from England. His address was 27 Clay Street according to a 1865 city directory. He said his bitters was the greatest remedy in the known world for Loss of Appetite, Headache, Indigestion and other Complaints requiring Tonic, Diuretic or Alterative.
He sold his bitters in large 1$ bottles. He also put out a Cherry Cordial which he advertised separately for the same price. An Eye Balm was also marketed for 25 cents a bottle. We also see no record of him really being a doctor.
The bitters was apparently manufactured by E. Mishler, 405 Penn Street in Reading, Pennsylvania according to a Dew Drop Bitters sign dated 1868. George C. Goodwin & Co. and M.S. Burr & Co. were his agents in Boston, Massachusetts.
Later in life, Atherton was listed as a machinist. His later years were spent in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. He died in 1915.
Now this posting really sparked my interest. That is an incredibly beautiful design from a pattern maker! These are the type of bitters bottles I am really attracted to. Although the “figurals” are destined to be thee “classics” in the bottle world, I think the ‘fancy’ bottles are of much interest to most bitters collectors. Bottles like the Atherton’s Dew Drop Bitters, Chickahominy Bitters, Goddin’s Gentian Bitters, and the like would be my first choices to collect.
Below this category of bottles my next love are the “classic” squares such as Martin’s Bermuda Bitters, Jackson’s Stonewall Bitters, Woodgate’s Plantation Bitters, Best Bitters in America, however assembling a grouping of these is almost an impossible feat, since the numbers known could almost be counted on one hand.
Warren: I am off to John Feldmann’s again next Thursday and Friday with Jeff Burkhardt. We will be inventorying and assessing this great collection. We will see many of the bottles you note above. F
Actually John’s collection is one of the very few on the eastern seaboard that includes several of the west’s best. He has several pairs of western bitters such as Cassin’s, Lacour’s, Wonser’s etc.
I’d like to be there with you and Jeff, what a great time you’ll both have!!!