W.L. Richardson’s Bitters – South Reading


So “Who is W.L. Richardson”?

22 March 2013 (R•013115)

SO_Richardson_R57_FRcropYesterday I put together a post on the R 57 – S.O. (Solon Osmond) Richardson’s Bitters (pictured to left).

Read: Dr. S.O. Richardson’s Jaundice Bitters – South Reading

This bottle has an abundance of information. The R 58 – W.L. Richardson’s Bitters is an enigma. My question is,”who is W.L. Richardson?” The bottle was produced a little later then the S.O. Richardson bottle. Was W.L a brother of Solon Osmond or a relative? Was his name Warren, William or Winslow?

Both bottles are embossed South Reading, Mass. and look almost identical.



I do see a few clues in my online research below. You can watch my progress. You think that I might have better things to do this Friday evening. Not really. Right where I want to be. The Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles is as follows:

R 58  W. L. RICHARDSON’S BITTERS, Circa 1855 – 1865
L…Richardson’s Sherry Wine Bitters
7 x 3 1/2 x 2 1/4 (5 3/8) 7/8
Rectangular, Aqua, NSC, Applied mouth and Tooled flared lip, With and
without Rough pontil mark. Rare
FRE 572
Drug Catalogs: 1876-7 Goodwin, 1833 M&R, 1885 Goodwin, 1891 Schieffelin, 1894 M&R
Dry refers to powdered form. Much more unusual than liquid.

Clue #1 – William? or Warren?

Clue #1 – RootsWeb – 2007

Both Solon Osmond and William L. Richardson bottled and sold Sherry-wine bitters, perhaps in partnership. There are collectible bottles with both WL and SO Richardson names in collector’s guides for sale. The bitters were reportedly 47.5% alcohol! Not bad, considering they were also sold during prohibition. Good for what ails you…

There’s an old camp song about Lydia Pinkham, “Let’s drink a drink a drink to Lydia Pink-a-pink-a-pink, the savior of… the human race. She invented medicinal compound, most efficacious, in every case”. (More of the same). Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable compound was likewise high in alcohol content.

There were at least 3 Solon Osmond Richardsons in the line, the most recent living in Toledo, Ohio. The bitters bottles could be worth a bit, if you find one in good shape. By the way, Warren Richardson, the son of Nathan and Betsey Alden, was the brother of Solon Osmond Richardson, whose mother was Asenath Rice, as mentioned.

Both are 3rd cousins of mine, descended from John Richardson and Esther Breckk.

Gary Allen Richardson

Clue #2 – Winslow?

Clue #2 – Ancestry.com – Gary Frederick Richardson Branch from Tree


Ancestry.com research showing Solon Osmond Richardson (S.O. Richardson Bitters) as a son of Nathan Richardson. Brother noted as Winslow V. Richardson. Not Winslow ‘R” Richardson.

Clue #3 – Passport

Clue #3 – William L. Richardson witness for Warren Richardson.


Passport application for Warren Richardson witnessed by William L. Richardson. Warren is a brother of Solon Osmond Richardson (S.O. Richardson’s Bitters) – October 1846

Clue #4 – William brother of Nathan Richardson

Clue #4 – Ancestry.com – Gary Frederick Richardson Branch from Tree


William Richardson brother of Nathan Richardson who was married to Betsy Alden. Son in Warren Richardson. See passport above. Uncle William was a witness.

Conclusion – “Who is W.L. Richardson”

OK, here it how it is shaping out. The “King of Bitters” in the Richardson tree is Dr. Nathan Richardson (1780 – 1837). He was putting out “Richardson’s Sherry Wine Bitters” in a powdered form around the turn of the century. There are probably different shaped bottles out there with some crude labels of this product.

Nathan was first married to Asenath Rice (1784 – 1820). She died at 36 years old. Nathan Richardson remarried to Betsy Alden (1797 – 1832). She also died young.

Dr. Solon Osmond Richardson (1809 – 1873) was the son of Nathan and Asenath. He is the namesake on the R 57 – S.O. Richardson’s Jaundice Bitters.

Winslow V. Richardson is the brother of Solon Osmond Richardson. He is a red herring and not the “W.L” on the R 58 – “W.L Richardson’s Sherry Wine Bitters”.

Warren Richardson’s (1823 – ) name is on the passport shown further above that is witnessed by “William L. Richardson”. Warren is listed as a merchant on some census forms. On others a painter. I can not conform his middle initial. Probability 30%.

William L. Richardson (1793 -) is a mystery. He is the brother of Nathan Richardson. I see no wife. This could be his name on the bottle. Probability 70%.


The Richardson ‘Cast of Characters” are all in this partial snapshot of the Richardson tree.

New Information | William L. Richardson


Dr. William L. Richardson Health and Strength Bitters svertisement – Kimberly Richards

W.L. Richardson’s Bitters – South Reading, Mass.


R 58 – W.L. RICHARDSON’S BITTERS – Meyer Collection


R 58 – W.L. RICHARDSON’S BITTERS – Meyer Collection


R 58 – W.L. RICHARDSON’S BITTERS – 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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