Cataloging of Bitters Bottles – Bill Ham
09 August 2013 (R•040519)
Cataloging of bitters by the various authors has been an ongoing and evolving process. Each new publication has added and increased the information. The additional information in each publication has provided new and additional information. Each new publication is also somewhat reflective of the changes in collector interest, and the interests of the author.
When Carlyn Ring updated the material and published FOR BITTERS ONLY, in 1980, on page 9, she described the colors of bitters as:
She further stated:
1. “amber was used to describe brown colors of: citron, citron brown, yellow amber, green amber, yellow green amber, olive amber, red amber, puce, light amber, dark amber, root beer, and claret’, and,
2. green includes apple green, blue green Lockport green, yellow green, clear green, pale green, dark olive green, deep blue green, kelly, light green, olive amber, olive yellow, smokey green, vivid green and yellow olive”.
When I updated the cataloging and published BITTERS BOTTLES, in 1998, on page 18, the color description was changed to: “Bitters are available in many colors, hues, and tones. For the purposes of this book, colors familiar to contemporary major bottle houses and collectors have been used”, and a list of colors are listed, with additional information. For example,”the first name of a color of multiple word description is presented in initial cap, others are in lower case: Yellow olive, Milk glass.”
In the 1998 publishing of BITTERS BOTTLES the listing were also expanded to include “tooled lip” or “applied mouth” top finishing of the bottles.
Additional information was included where available to indicate where a bitters was from, and in cases of some of the more rare brands where examples were found.
The information that was available at the time was used. Since that time, more vast amounts of information has become available including through the contemporary research techniques, the Internet, and auction price guide summaries.
When publishing the BITTERS BOTTLES SUPPLEMENT in 2004, many previously unlisted bottles were added, as well as correcting data and adding additional information on previously recorded brands.
The cataloging of bitters bottles, and brands and collecting information on bitters has continued since the 2004 publication. There are still examples of known brands and uncataloged brands out there which are unknown to collectors.
Bill continues the very tedious and exacting process of recording all new information on bitters bottles and brands in anticipation of another Bitters Bottle Supplement in coming years. I actually have a digital draft here on my laptop. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Bill who has been instrumental in my path and passion to collect bitters bottles and the stories behind them.