The wonderful Horse Shoe Bitters from Collinsville, Illinois





The following pages have been written with the hope of directing attention to one of the most insidious dangers that threatens the moral and physical welfare of the community. Intemperance – as the word is generally understood – assumes every alluring guise, and under that of medicinal “Bitters” widely advertised and commended, it has brought woe and misery to multitudes that never suspected their peril until too late.

Many of the so-called “Bitters” are simply whiskey, with scarcely the taste disguised. Though their name is legion, no statistics can ever show how many good and well-meaning persons have been dragged to the lowest depths of poverty, sorrow, suffering, and finally death by the various “Bitters” which in reality are the deadliest foe to humanity.

Book introduction for Jack’s Horseshoe National temperance society & publication house, Trenton, N.J., April 1883 – Edward Sylvester Ellis

The wonderful Horse Shoe Bitters from Collinsville, Illinois

10 July 2013 (R•111516) (R•080718) (R•081019)


WOW, what a great introduction to the book Jack’s Horseshoe! Looks like those temperance folks had it all figured out.

Today we will look at a wonderful figural bitters bottle that sits proudly on one of my shelves. I was reminded of the ‘horse shoe shaped’ Horse Shoe Bitters when Roy Weinacht over on the Peachridge Glass facebook page, said “same mystery when it comes to Collinsville Medicine Co. – Horse Shoe Bitters (H 189) bottled during the same period.” in reference to the mystery surrounding the Yamara Cordial Bitters from Chicago.

Basically, in both cases, you have a bottle with scarce discoverable support information. What is even cooler, is that there is a Horse Shoe Bitters square (H 190). Both examples of the horse shoe bottles are pictured below. I would speculate or maybe just guess a direct relationship as the square may have been produced by the Horse Shoe Medicine Company in St. Louis prior to their move to Collinsville, Illinois in the late 1880s. Both specimens also have the word “Patent” embossed on the bottles. There is another strong lead that puts the square, Horse Shoe Bitters in Montgomery, Alabama as a hole was dug with one complete example and 9 or 10 broken examples.

My square Horse Shoe Bitters was actually obtained at the FOHBC National 2007 Auction in Collinsville, Illinois while the figural horse shoe bottle came from the American Bottle Auctions | Grapentine III | Auction 43.

The figural horse shoe bottle is such a favorite that there are many reproductions made by Wheaton Glass Company. If you “Google” Horse Shoe Bitters you will get page after page of listings for these later reproductions.

The Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles for the figural horse shoe is as follows:

H 189 HORSE SHOE BITTERS ( au ) // f // HORSE SHOE MEDICINE CO. ( au ) / motif horse running left with three feet off ground, ground showing / COLLINSVILLE / ILLS. // f // // b // PATENT APPLIED FOR
8 3/4 x 4 x 2
Horseshoe, Amber and Clear, LTC, Tooled lip, 2 sp, Rare
Horse Shoe Bitters Company moved St. Louis to Collinsville, Illinois in 1891

I did confirm a listing for a Horse Shoe Bitters Company that moved from St. Louis to Collinsville, Illinois. In 1891, they were looking to expand their business.


Presumably the label panel side of the figural Horse Shoe Bitters (H 189) from American Bottle Auctions | Grapentine III | Auction 43. – Meyer Collection

H189_HorseShoe Bitters_FLT_FM5

The figural Horse Shoe Bitters (H 189) from American Bottle Auctions | Grapentine III | Auction 43. – Meyer Collection

H 189HorseShoeBitters_FRT_FM5

The figural Horse Shoe Bitters (H 189) from the American Bottle Auctions | Grapentine III | Auction 43.- Meyer Collection


“HORSE SHOE MEDICINE CO. / (running horse) / COLLINSVILLE / ILLS. – HORSE SHOE BITTERS”, (Ring/Ham, H-189), Illinois, ca. 1880 – 1890, reddish amber center shading to yellow amber figural horseshoe, 8 7/8”h, “PATENT APPLIED FOR” on smooth base, tooled lip. Perfect condition. This is fairly rare, and is one of the more unusual of the true figural bitters bottles. Purchased in 2004 from George Piasecki from his eBay auction. – Glass Works Auctions – Bob Ferraro Collection – Part 2


Vintage 1970’s Wheaton Horse Shoe Bitters Medicine Reproduction, The underside marking states WHEATON, N.J. The bottle height measures 7 ¾” and 2 1/4” front to back. – ebay


Horse Shoe Bitters Company listingEdwardsville Intelligencer November 11, 1891 (Discusing Collinsville area news)


Interesting Horse Shoe Bitters Company listing regarding a ball match (prsumably baseball or softball) Edwardsville Intelligencer October 14, 1891

I was raised in Collinsville. I’ve talked to several people involved with the historical society. Lucille Stehman from Collinsville published a book about the history of Collinsville. In it, there is a picture in her book of a baseball team from the Hardscrabble Mine. They were also known as the Horseshoe Bitters. They started playing in the late 1800’s. The field they played on was the Hardscrabble field. There also used to be a saloon in Collinsville known as Hardscrabble. Lots of Hardscrabble references there. I sometimes think that the saloon might have been the bottling location. Such an ornate and expensive bottle to manufacture, yet little information about the medicine co.

Roy Weinacht


1911 Collinsville Colts – Reference to Horseshoe Bitters (Hardscrabble Mine team) – Collinsville edited by Neal Strebel


Book introduction for JACK’S HORSESHOE National temperance society & publication house, 1883 – Edward Sylvester Ellis


Horse Shoe Bitters Bottle to be sold in Public SaleThe News, Frederic Maryland, Wednesday, November 27, 1974


Horse Shoe Bitters Bottle to be sold in Auction Logansport Pharos Tribune Logansport Indiana September 17, 1989



Horse Shoe Bitters ex Mackenzie Collection – Meyer Collection

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

H 190 HORSE SHOE BITTERS / PATENTED. // f // f / f //
9 x 2 3/4 (6 3/4)
Square, Amber, LTC, Applied mouth and Tooled lip, Very rare
Examples dug in Montgomery, Alabama

“This bitters bottle was dug out of a old dump in Montgomery, Alabama years ago. At the time this bottle was found 9 or 10 other Horse Shoe Bitters were found all broken. Listed in the Rings Ham book on page 292 as very rare. Because we found the other broken Horse Shoe Bitters in the same dump but scattered all over the dump I believe this is a bitters that was produced in Montgomery, Alabama”

ebay comment 2008

L. P. De Bautte & Co.

I believe this bottle may be from New Orleans, Louisiana based on the advertisement below. Need to find the patent.

L.P. De Bautte & Co. noted as Sole Proprietors of Horseshoe Bitters – The Assumption Pioneer, Saturday, July 25 1891

The newspaper advertisement above requires a new listing in Bitters Bottles Supplement 2.

Newspaper Advertisement
H 190.1 HORSESHOE BITTERS, L. P. De Bautte & Co., Wholesale Liquor Dealers and Commission Merchants, 34 Tchoupitoulas Str., New Orleans, La. Sole proprietors of Horseshoe Bitters. The Assumption Pioneer (Napoleonville, Louisiana), July 25, 1891


The billhead above requires a new listing in Bitters Bottles Supplement 2.

H 190.2 CELEBRATED HORSE SHOE BITTERS, Bought of The Henry Lochte Co., Ltd., Wholesale Grocers and Importers, Established 1872, Incorporated 1902. Sole Agents for the Celebrated Horse Shoe Bitters, 319, 321, 323, 325 Tchoupitoulas and No. 421 Natchez Streets, New Orleans. Dated December 5, 1906.

Read about another bitters bottle with a horse shoe: Bitter Witch – What a great name!

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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2 Responses to The wonderful Horse Shoe Bitters from Collinsville, Illinois

  1. Froggy says:

    The Grapentine example is the BEST I’ve seen over the years as to color, mold impression and having some character. A late bottle, many examples are lackluster, being very plain glass with weak embossing and are often stained(dug). The rarer CLEAR examples have been seen in SCA, but again, very lackluster bottles. I’ve never heard of an AQUA…

  2. Part of an e-mail from James Viguerie

    I had posted to your Facebook page about the square Horse Shoe Bitters. I picked it up originally at the Nashville National show in 1996. I enjoyed it for many years before deciding to focus on Druggist bottles. I auctioned it off, to you, at the 2007 Collinsville National show. I am not sure who originally dug it, or how Judge MacKenzie acquired it. His bottles sold in 1995/96 so the person I bought it from only had it a few months.

    The Horse Shoe Bitters bottles are what got me interested in doing Patent research on antique bottles. Unfortunately, I looked for years and never found them in the patent records. However, I did end up getting a copy of every bottle I could from the records. I have thought I should get with Mr. Ham about doing an update to include the hundreds of apparently paper label bitters that once existed. It was also interesting to see who actually patented many of the known bottles.

    The only newspaper articles I found on Horse Shoe Bitters are the 1891 ones you have posted. Somewhere I have a full set of colors of the modern Horse Shoe Bitters that Wheaton put out. One is full and has a label for some kind of syrup. I have never been able to acquire a figural Horse Shoe Bitters, nor even dig pieces (I live 30 minutes from Collinsville, IL). I did once see pieces to a broken light blue one dug in Alton. The digger who found it would not part with them. He has since passed away and I could not find out what happened to them. I would have loved to glued it back together.

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