California Bitters / Manufactured only by / J. G. Frisch San Francisco

C12_California Bitters_RH

California Bitters from the Richard Siri Collection – Bitters Bottle Supplement

California Bitters / Manufactured only by / J. G. Frisch San Francisco

15 May 2011 (R•051814)

Apple-Touch-IconAI was in Amityville, New York this past Thursday and Friday visiting with John and Sheila Feldmann for my upcoming Antique Bottles and Glass Collector series article on Great Collectors and their Collections. While taking pictures I came across an extremely rare California Bitters. This example is broken but is still really a great bottle. The only complete example resides safely in a West Coast collection.

California Bitters

California Bitters – Feldmann Collection

From noted bottle historian Warren Friedrich on 19 July 2009 from Western Bitters News:

Over on the WesternGlopTopWhiskies blog site, there has been a lively discussion about whether the California Clubhouse whiskey is the top dog of the western whiskey world. Several reasons were cited as to why it should retain the number 1 spot among the collectors of these coveted cylinders of glass. Full face embossing, interesting, elaborate monogram, color, etc.

I thought it might be interesting to do such a parallel comparison with the bitters. Here is a picture of the California Bitters / Manufactured only by / J. G. Frisch San Francisco, this bitters has the word California spelled out, it also has San Francisco spelled out and it would compare with the whiskies that have full face embossing by having 3 embossed panels. It’s definitely an early made bottle among the bitters bottles standards. It’s rarity is pretty much unquestioned with this example residing on the East coast and the other residing on the West coast. Both examples are an amber coloration with a iron pontil mark on the base. It certainly deserves to rank among the top contenders for the number 1 coveted spot. The one area that it may fall short is whether bitters collectors would consider a bottle that was of western distribution, but eastern in manufacture to hold the coveted number 1 ranking. Obviously there is some consensus to this, as another highly desireable bitters, the Bryant’s Stomach Bitters also a western marketed product but of eastern origin and manufacture is coveted by advanced western bitters collectors and has been published in print as to being considered the top western bitters.

If a vote were to be held between these two examples only, my personal choice would be the Frisch bottle probably based on similar criteria that the whiskey collectors use. However like the whiskey collectors if the listing of choice for the coveted top honor were open, I certainly would have nominated another contender!

California Bitters Trio

California Bitters Flanked by Circle IXL’s – Feldmann Collection

California Bitters

California Bitters – Feldmann 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.
This entry was posted in Bitters, Collectors & Collections and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to California Bitters / Manufactured only by / J. G. Frisch San Francisco

  1. Froggy says:

    Awesome bottle, “holey” or not! My favorite Western Bitters, next to Cassins & Lacours.

  2. J.F. Cutter Extra says:

    The Frisch would probably receive some #1 votes due to it’s extreme rarity and wording. I’d personally go with the Dr. Wonser’s in Green. I do like the Cassin’s and Lacour’s but they are more of a figural bitters than they are a generic bitters bottle. Due to there being so many bitters bottles out there, it would be easiest to rank the Top Western Bitters, The Top Midwestern Bitters, and The Top Eastern Bitters. But then one must define what is the dividing line between each category for bottles such as the Frisch, as it could be included as both “Western” and “Eastern.” And the Frisch may have it’s toughest challenger in the Bryant’s Cone! Almost as rare, a more unusual shape, and it’s GREEN!

  3. Hmm….I’d have to see RS’s California Bitters to see if it could be the #1 Western in my book. Hard to believe it might beat out the Amber Cassins I had in my hand last year, a green Wonser’s or the Bryant’s Cone which is just plain powerful. I’ll let the Western group worry about ranking. It’s impossible for me to rank with so manny Bitters and colors. The tide changes every day. I certainly have my favorites. It’s funny though, most of my favorites are bottles I do not have. Sandor and I continually play this mind game with each other…If you had to run out with just a few bottles…what would you take? Painful, morbid but fascinating gets you thinking fast without positioning.

    • J.F. Cutter Extra says:

      I agree! It’s tough to say which bitters is the top dog without handling some of the best of the best in person, side by side. My personal favorites change every now and again, which keeps things fresh and exciting! I’ve often played out scenarios like which bottles I would keep out of my collection if I only had one 12-divider box….it’s torturous, yet intriguing! Interesting point about some of your favorites not being your own. I can think of a handful of bottles I sure wish I had, some being my top favorites. It’s also funny how most collectors think a bottle is worth more when it is on their shelf, and less when someone else has the bottle they want….It would be tough to put a price on a bottle like the Frisch!?!? Ex. Rare is Ex. Rare, and it would all come down to what one is willing to pay, and IF the owner is willing to accept at a certain level….

  4. Richard Siri says:

    In my book the California Bitters /J.G.Frisch is the most impotant Western Bitters for the following reasons .It has California embossed on the bottle along with San Francisco and the owners name who was from S.F.. It has a little shape to it and is pontiled and rare . If the house was burning it would be in one hand the green U.S.A. in the other and the green Cassins in my teeth . Opps I better get a box forgot some of the whiskies like the face embossed Barry & Patten ,green Clubhouse ,aqua Teakettle and the green Horse and how could you leave the Cutters behind.

  5. J.F. Cutter Extra says:

    That seems like a fitting title, “the most important” western bitters. Folks seem to be overly obsessed with which individual or which thing is “the best.” Especially when it comes to sports and collectibles. Michael Jordan is probably “the best leader,” “most significant,” and “overall best” basketball player of all time, but LeBron James may end up as the “most physically gifted” player of all time….Maybe we collectors should elaborate some on what “the best” means. How about the 20 most “eye-appealing” bitters/whiskeys, “the 20 most important” bitters/whiskeys,” and the 20 most desirable (people’s choice) bitters/whiskeys.

    • J.F. Cutter Extra says:

      As for whiskeys, the Barry & Patten, Bank Exchange, and Laurel Palace would be near the top of “most important” or “most significant” whiskeys, while much more “common” whiskies like a Tea Kettle, Fenkhausen Bear, or J.F. Cutter could be right at the top of the list for “most attractive.” The same goes for bitters, meds, sodas, and the like….Which bitters bottles are the most “attractive?” I’d vote for a Wonser’s, Cassin’s, Kelly’s Old Cabin, and the Fish….How about the “most Historic,” the most “valuable,” or the most “color variation.” I would wager that the bottles near the top of multiple categories are “The Best.” The Frisch is certainly a contender. Now if only someone can unearth the “Old Signet” whiskey….in GREEN! Would it be “The Best” whiskey? Only time will tell!

  6. Warren Friedrich says:

    I purchased the Feldmann’s example of the California Bitters for a friend of mine in California. So now both metallic pontiled medium amber examples of this bottle reside back home.

Leave a Reply