BERKSHIRE BITTERS | AMANN & COMPANY | CINCINNATI, O
16 May 2012 (R•090516) (R•110816)
Berkshire pigs are a rare breed of pig originating from the English county of Berkshire. Herds of the breed are still maintained in England by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust at Aldenham Country Park, Hertfordshire, and by the South of England Rare Breeds Centre in Kent. The Berkshire is listed as ‘vulnerable’, as in 2008 fewer than 300 breeding sows were known to exist. Some pigs of the breed are also kept in New Zealand, but it is estimated that there are now fewer than a hundred purebred sows there.
In the United States, the American Berkshire Association, established in 1875, gives pedigrees only to pigs directly imported from established English herds or to those tracing directly back to such imported animals. The pig is also bred in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, under the trademarked name Kagoshima Kurobuta. [Wikipedia]
Ever wonder why an early proprietor from Cincinnati, Ohio would use a bottle in the form of a pig to package his bitters in? In the mid-1860’s to mid-1870’s Cincinnati was in the middle of farm country. In fact, Cincinnati already had its first slaughterhouse when it was incorporated as a city in 1819. For the next 50-years river boats brought to Cincinnati so many pigs for slaughter that it became referred to as ‘Cincinnati the Pork City’ or the ‘Porkopolis’. Either of these two sayings can be found on most all ‘Railroad and River Guide’ pottery pig flasks made by the Anna Pottery of Southern Illinois. – Jim Hagenbuch (Glass Works Auctions)
“It is rather a hoggish propensity to be guzzling whiskey, and if the habit is indulged in, will soon reduce a man below the level of the hog, and cause him to wallow in the gutter”
Pigs were a sign of prosperity during the 1870’s-1890’s. The pigs were fed corn and corn was also used in the distilling of whiskey. The critters were cute and popular with the public so the distillers capitalized on these figurals as a marketable tool. The pig also represented the evils of drink. Using the cork to seal the contents at the rear allowed crude and rude jokes or slogans to enhance the product, for example SOMETHING GOOD “IN A HOGS ___ ” (with the arrow pointing to the rear).
Beside glass these pigs appear in pottery form. Anna Pottery (read further: A Stunning Pen of Pigs from Glass Works Auctions and Elsewhere) from Anna, Illinois produced the famous Railroad Pig that goes for top dollar. The Kirkpatrick brothers who worked in Anna summed up their feelings in an article in the Jonesboro, Indiana Weekly Gazette in 1869: “It is rather a hoggish propensity to be guzzling whiskey, and if the habit is indulged in, will soon reduce a man below the level of the hog, and cause him to wallow in the gutter”. Glenn Poch 1997. See: Whiskey & Bitter Pigs
Today we will look at the extremely popular figural pig called Berkshire Bitters. The manufacturer, Amann & Co., was started by Anthony and Edmund Amann in Cincinnati in 1869. Just a tad, ‘less cute” than the Suffolk Bitters which I wrote about last week, the Berkshire Bitters pig is anatomically correct in proportion and has slightly different molds. Always in shades of a dark amber and reddish amber, you will not find yellow examples like the Suffolk Bitters pig. Carlyn Ring & W.C. Ham in Bitters Bottles note the following:
B 81 BERKSHIRE BITTERS // AMANN & COMPANY / CINCINNATI, O //
9 1/2 (long) x 10 3/8 (girth) 1 1/2 (neck)
Pig, short thin, Amber, LTC, Applied mouth and Sheared mouth, Scarce
To determine thin pig from fat, pigs were measured in circumference just behind from legs and ahead of stomach.
Circa 1869 – 1880 est.
Short Thin 9 1/2″ long – 10 3/8″ girth, 1 1/2″ neck
Short Fat 9 1/2″ long – 11 1/4″ girth, 1″ neck
Long Fat 10 1/2″ long – 11 3/8 girth, 3/4″ neck
B 81.2 BERKSHIRE BITTERS // AMANN & COMPANY / CINCINNATI, O //
9 1/2 (long) x 11 1/4 (girth) 1 1/2 (neck)
Pig short fat, Amber, Applied mouth, Scarce
B 81.4 BERKSHIRE BITTERS // AMANN & COMPANY / CINCINNATI, O //
10 1/2 (long) x 11 3/8 (girth) 3/4 (neck)
Pig long fat, Amber, Ground mouth, Scarce
One of the challenges in bitters collecting is to acquire all four variants of the Berkshire Bitters pigs.
Note: Edmund Amann lived in Cincinnati from 1873-1888. He owned Old Lexington Distillery No. 86, 8th District of Kentucky which was at Union Mills in Lessamine County. He sold the distillery in 1903 to Edward Gerdes.
Here is a wonderful grouping of Berkshire Bitters pigs that have sold or are selling presently at auction houses or reside in collections.