John Panella and his special Dr. DeGurley’s Herb Bitters

The extremely rare, DR. DEGURLEY’S HERB BITTERS – Panella Collection. You can see the broken and missing piece of glass that included the DR DEGURLEY’S wording.

John Panella and his special Dr. Degurley’s Herb Bitters

The extremely rare, Dr. DeGurley’s Herb Bitters – Baltimore

25 October 2012 (R•052915)

Apple-Touch-IconAPeachridge Glass and the bottle and glass collecting community would like to thank John Panella for opening up and sharing this wonderful story wrapped around his extraordinary amber Dr. Degurley’s Herb Bitters. To my knowledge, this is only the second example to show up. Most advanced bitters collectors concur that there is only one unique, complete example in yellow olive (pictured below), embedded in an Eastern collection, that I wish to keep anonymous.

Froggy, if you are reading this, doesn’t this remind you of the partial CALIFORNIA BITTERS from the Feldmann Collection? Read: California Bitters / Manufactured only by / J. G. Frisch San Francisco

John Panella – New York, NY


From 1988 till 1998 I was an active seller in the New York City, 26th Street & 6th Avenue Antique Flea Market on Sundays. I sold locally obtained antique bottles and go withs. During that era, I attended most of local bottle shows in the tri-state area. The Long Island Bottle Club had inspired me to dig in Brooklyn as they were doing at that time. I was a lousy digger. I excavated privies on Wycoff Street and Atlantic Avenue with limited success. I did purchase bottles from Jack Fortemyer who lived in Brooklyn and was a member of that club way more successfully. I had fun and learned how to see them on Sundays in New York City.

During that era, I drove to, I believe it was, Vineland, New Jersey every year for a bottle tabletop antique show they held at the local firehouse. Dana Charlton-Zarro remembers with detail, the names of the people who were at that show. I remember no one really. I do remember one year after a line outside for early admission, getting in to see diggers that had a table in a corner. They had brisk sales. It was newly excavated stuff. I purchased this bottle from that table. Between you and me, I paid $xxx for it. I did tell the other collectors $20 but now what does it matter? I loved the shape and iridescence of the bottle. It was broken and glued together with a shard missing with the name on it. The price was right. At the time I considered it not worth much because it was broken. I loved the embossing of the house on it and wanted it for my display. I do remember the seller telling me “please take it, it’s an unlisted bitters bottle”. A real crier…, he didn’t want to look at it anymore. Still beautiful to me, I purchased it. Dana seems to know these diggers so I suggest you contact her about the names. The bottle sat on a display in my home until my wife complained “why do I keep a broken bottle around?” I didn’t want to sell it, so I found a place of honor for it in my garage. This was the era before easy online communication.

Fast-forward 25 years. Now in 2009, I retired from my 45-year sales stint in the airline industry. I worked for many carriers but had longtime employment with AeroMexico and British Airways. Collecting bottles was a hobby, not so much a business for me. Upon retirement, I took it upon myself to restore to original shape, the childhood home that I grew up in, located in Jamaica Estates, Queens, New York. When my mom passed in 2009, I inherited this home that I lived in from age 11. Since I am an only child and there are no other siblings, I inherited the home in its entirety. It was a 3-year passion for me. I restored everything. Rebuilding, refinishing, no replacing, most of the home to its original specs using only parts MADE IN AMERICA. It was not cheap or easy. On October 8th of this year, my wife Marrianne and I moved in. We moved everything ourselves piece by piece over this period. It was my retirement plan.

A few days ago I remembered this bottle on display in the garage of my last home, took it outside and photographed it. I was thinking one if the collectors on the site could identify it. I used my iPhone and put it on the facebook bottle collectors website. Now it had come back to life. After comments back and forth, Brian Shultis nailed it as a Dr. Degurley’s Herb Biters from Baltimore with the concurrence of Chris Rowell. I must thank both of these guys profusely. I offered to trade it for something with Chris and last night was up all night thinking, why are you trading this bottle? I knew Chris was the king of diggers in Baltimore and asked him if he was interested? I was thinking to myself all night what a stupid move that was but I did want to share my find with him. Today I messaged him saying I wished to keep the bottle. He was so gracious and understanding. I really give him credit for not holding me to my offer. What a nice person he is! I was willing to trade it for a KNICKERBOCKER 1848 iron pontiled soda water bottle from 18th Street in the city. All night, I thought what a foolish and compulsive move that was on my part. Chris, as I said, was very understanding. I give him great credit! I could not have done this alone. I credit the following collectors for their guidance and advice: Dana Charlton-Zarro, Michael George, Steven James Anderson, Rick Ciralli, Woody Douglas, Tom Marshall, John Tague, Dennis Smith, Tom Doligale, Mark Woodall, Jim Schmidt, Ed Nikes, Peter Marston, Brian Wolff, Ricks Bottle Room (Rick DeMarsh), John April and of course you Ferdinand. Without you, I would not know most of these people. Your driving influence in the FOHBC has inspired me. Not only am I communicating with all of the above names on this one find but many, many more on other topics. Your push to get the old timers online is working. It will take time but thanks to you now, I have a BOTTLE FAMILY. This hobby is really fun and educational and now I have an iPhone, which makes it all a pleasure, addicting and exciting.

If you need any more information, do not hesitate to contact me. I must add that, thru the years, I have befriended Jim Hagenbuch (Glass Works Auctions) both with my bottle hobby and professionally with the airlines. We have communicated for years. He has also been a big key player in my bottle addiction and appreciation of history thru glass.

With warmest personal regards,

John Panella

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

DR DEGURLEY’S / HERB BITTERS // sp // MANUFACTURED / BALTIMORE MD. // motif 5 story house //
10 1/4 x 2 3/5 (6 3/4) 1/4 (with 16 dots)
Square, Yellow olive, LTC, Applied mouth, Extremely rare
Resembles Edward Wilder Bottle (see below)

DR. DEGURLEY’S HERB BITTERS – Bitters Bottles Supplement

Read More: Edward Wilder and his Building Bottles

The amber DR. DEGURLEY’S HERB BITTERS – Panella Collection. If you look closely, you can see the embossed building. Look at the crazy, big fat applied mouth!

Color plate scan from the Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham Bitters Bottle book.

The similar EDW WILDER’S STOMACH BITTERS – Meyer Collection


Latest photos, bottle color almost dark honey amber, lighter more yellow amber in areas of glass. – John Panella

Dr. DeGurley’s Herb Bitters finds a new home in a FIRST CLASS resort with many other friends. (a good ending to a long tale) – John Panella

DR. DEGURLEY’S HERB BITTERS – My favorite embossed side – John Panella

Broken panel side concealing a portion of the DR. DEGURLEY’S HERB BITTERS name – John Panella

DR. DEGURLEY’S HERB BITTERS – This side has the MANUFACTURED IN BALTIMORE MD typography – John Panella



“DR DEGURLEY’S / HERB BITTERS – MANUFACTURED / BALTIMORE. MD” – (Pictorial image of 5-story building), America, possibly Baltimore Glass Works, 1865 – 1870. Medium amber, square, semi-cabin with a beaded design along all (4) corners, applied sloping collar – smooth base, ht. 9 7/8″; (a ¼” x ½” hole in one of the bottom corners on the reverse with a 1 ¼” crack extending up the panel edge, a tiny pinhead flake at edge of lip, and some washable interior residue). R/H #D39. Extremely rare (one of only three examples known, with one of the other two being dug and badly cracked). As noted, the damage is on the back corner, the bottle displays as very near mint and would be a good candidate for a professional repair, if desired. A great rarity and a great looking pictorial bitters, strongly embossed. The bottle was found in the cupboard of an old one room farmhouse / shack, in northeastern West Virginia. – American Glass Gallery Auction 14

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 John Panella and his special Dr. DeGurley’s Herb Bitters

  1. Warren Friedrich says:

    Terrific bottle and to see another example in a different color is awesome!

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