The Constitution Bitters from Buffalo, NY





The Constitution Bitters from Buffalo, NY

Stephen B. Seward & Burr S. Bentley

14 May 2013 (R•031314) (R•051814) (R•053015) (R•030616) (R•051010-FBN) (R•052619-Letterhead)

Apple-Touch-IconAFor the sake of this Constitution Bitters, we are dealing with Stephen B. Seward and Burr S. Bentley of Seward & Bentley, Buffalo, New York. The company name changed many times as there are listings for Seward, Bentley & Cheney, Ward & Bentley, Daniel Seward & Co., Seward & Liebetrut and Edward Liebetrut This shows obvious changes in partnership and ownership later in the 1860s.

Stephen even got his start earlier than that as his name occurs as S. B. Seward in the late 1850s on bottles and advertising etc. When this bottle mold was produced, Cheney had not yet joined the firm. This bitters first appeared in 1864.

The Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles Supplement 2 is as follows:

C 223 A.M.S.2. ( au ) / 1864 // CONSTITUTION / BITTERS // A.M.S.2. ( au ) /
9 1/4 x 2 7/8 x 2 1/4 (7 1/4) 1/4
Rectangular, Amber, LTC, Applied mouth, 4 sp, Rare
AMS2: All Must Surrender To Constitution Bitters
Label: A.M. 1864 S.2. Prepared from a formula of an eminent physician and used for many tears with wonderful success as a tonic, for strengthening of the system, giving tone to the stomach and creating a healthy appetite. It has no equal.
1864 & 1866 Thomas’ Buffalo Business Directory: Seward & Bentley Druggist, 189 Main, Stephen B. Seward and Burr S. Bentley
1868 City Directory for Buffalo: Seward, Bentley & Cheney Druggist, 241 Main
1877 Billhead: Edward J. Liebetrut, Druggist (formerly Seward & Liebetrut, formerly Seward & Co.)

Stephen B. Seward

Stephen B. Seward was born Franklinville, New York in 1831. In 1865 or so, he became senior member of Seward, Bentley & Cheney in Buffalo, New York. He moved in the late 1870s to Omaha and later to St. Louis (see obituary below). I think this might help explain why the Mexican Bitters bottle is so similar.


Obituary for Stephen B. Seward – The Pharmaceutical Era, Volume 211899

Burr S. Bentley

Burr S. Bentley was born about 1837 in Buffalo New York. He married Josephine Thwing on 23 May 1867. Burr was a jeweler and watchmaker with a shop at 243 Main Street. He was a partner in 1864 with Stephen B. Seward in Buffalo, New York as Seward &  Bentley, later, Seward, Bentley & Cheney, druggists and fancy goods merchants with a shop at 189 Main Street.


What does “A.M.S.2. 1864” stand for? The similar Mexican Bitters is embossed “A.S.F.5. 1866”. This newspaper advertisement below confirms, “All Must Surrender to Constitution Bitters”.


A.M., S. 2. – All must surrender to Constitution Bitters – The Indiana Herald, Wednesday, August 19, 1868

Read More: Mexican Bitters – Henry C. Weaver – Lancaster, O



“A. M. S. 2. / 1864 – CONSTITUTION / BITTERS – A. M. S. 2. / 1864 – SEWARD & BENTLEY / BUFFALO. N.Y.”, America, 1864 – 1870. Medium to deep golden amber, rectangular, applied sloping collar – smooth base, ht. 9 1/8″, width 2 7/8″, depth 2 ¼”, virtually attic mint; (just a slight trace of extremely faint exterior wear, otherwise pristine perfect!) R/H #C223. A rare mold, these do not come around often! – American Glass Gallery Auction 14


A.M. S. 2 1864  CONSTITUTION BITTERS – SEWARD & BENTLEY BUFFALO, N.Y.”, (Ring/Ham, C-222), New York, ca. 1865 – 1875, yellow-green color – Glass Works Auctions

C 223 (Constitution Bitters)

Amber Constitution Bitters – Ferdinand Meyer V collecion


Green Constitution Bitters – Bitters Bottles Supplement


Three gorgeous Constitution Bitters in the famous John Feldmann collection. Those three have now found new homes with the dispersement of the collection in 2012.


Constitution Bitters previously auctioned by Norman C. Heckler auction. This bottle was found in Michigan and had full contents. – Heckler Auction #89 – March 2010



Constitution Bitters advertisement – Shawano County Journal, January 18, 1866


Constitution Bitters and Seward’s Cough Cure advertisements (see below) both on the same page of the Gettysburg Compiler, 1869. Notice how Cheney has joined the partnership.


Constitution Bitters and Seward’s Cough Cure advertisements (see above) both on the same page of the Gettysburg Compiler, 1869.


NY. Buffalo. Constitution Bank. Constitution Bitters. Signed S.B. Seward and B.S. Bentley. Denomination: 5. – Ben Swanson Collection


Embossed Token: Seward’s Cough Cure, S.B. Seward Druggist Buffalo


Use Seward’s Cough Cure – Cattaraugus County: Embracing Its Agricultural Society, Newspapers, Civil List … Biographies of the Old Pioneers … Colonial and State Governors of New York, Names of Towns and Post Offices, with the Statistics of Each Town – J. Manley, 1857


Alisma for the Hair, sold by Seward & Bentley of Buffalo from around 1868. They were initially Ward & Bentley (Dec 67), then by Jan of 68 it was Seward & Bentley. By 1869, they called themselves Seward, Bentley, and Cheney. Advertisements for this preparation in the 1874 New York State Directory and in the 1868 Alton (Ill.) Telegraph. It was being sold by Daniel Seward & Co., Druggists & Grocers Goods. They were listed in the Drug business at 907 3rd, in Buffalo, during 1867-68. The latest reference to this preparation I found was in the 1896 Morrison & Plummer Catalog. – Hair Raising Stories

Constitution Bitters noted on Edward J. Liebetrut, Druggist (formerly Seward & Liebetrut) 1877 receipt – Joe Gourd Collection

Select Listings:

1831: Stephen B. Seward born Franklinville, New York
1837: Burr S. Bentley born about 1837 in Buffalo New York
1864-1866: Seward & Bentley Druggist, 189 Main, Stephen B. Seward & Burr S. Bentley – Thomas’ Buffalo Business Directory
1864: 1864 embossed on Seward & Bentley Constitution Bitters bottle
1867: Ward & Bentley (Dec 1867)
1868: Seward, Bentley & Cheney Druggist, 241 Main – 1868 City Directory for Buffalo
1869: Seward, Bentley and Cheney
1877: Edward J. Liebetrut, Druggist (formerly Seward & Liebetrut, formerly Seward & Co.) 1877 receipt (above)

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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