Indian Blood Bitters – Fond du Lac, Wisconsin


Indian Blood Bitters

Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

09 October 2013

Apple-Touch-IconAMark Nelson posted the really nice picture above of an Indian Blood Bitters over on the facebook Bottle Collectors page. I like the setting with the other labeled bitters and the flat quilted lightning rod ball. I have not seen this extremely rare brand put out by the Sterling Medicine Company from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin before and was curious to find out more. A quick search online finds another example and a shipping crate that was sold previously on ebay.

I have three bitters from Fond du Lac. I have the Indian Blood Bitters, Burkart’s Homestead and now the Dr. Warren’s Universal Tonic Bitters. They are all sweet bitters and hard to find. I don’t know how I have been so lucky. I guess all I can say is being at the right place at the right time.

PRG: *I am also also aware of a Strasberg (Straussburg?) Herb Bitters that is noted on an Internal Revenue document from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

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


9 x 2 ¾ (6 ¾) ¼
Square, Amber, LTC, Tooled lip, 1 sp, Extremely rare


Extract from a court case involving Sterling Medicine Company and various members of the Marshall family from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin – North Western Reporter1881

Searching online, I find the above court case records that tie the Marshall name to Sterling Medicine Company in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin in 1881. Apparently, Samuel Marshall, from 1857 to 1870, when he died, held a recipe for Old Dr. Marshall’s Celebrated Liniment which he sold without a patent. His son, M. W. Marshall assumed the medicine sales after his fathers death leading up to the court case with his siblings in 1881. I would suspect that the Indian Blood Bitters was made somewhere around 1890, possibly only for a year or so based on the extremely rare rating.


Marshall’s Artic Lung Syrup – MrBottles

In 1897, M. W. Marshall (patent medicines) at is listed at 14-16 Oak Street. Sterling Medicine Company was located at 728 Main Street in the same year.  In 1907 – 1913 there is a M. W. Medicine Co. (M. W. Marshall and Frank P. Marshall) listed at 250 Oak.


Marshall’s Liniment Case Overview – The Commercial and Financial Chronicle – 1881


Indian Blood Bitters Sterling Med. Co Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin. This is a very nice example of a scarce bitters bottle from Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin that is embossed “Indian Blood Bitters Sterling Medicine Co. FOND DU LAC, WIS.” It has a tooled lip and lots of bubbles in the glass. No glassworks is given. – MrBottles

Sterling Medicine Company Shipping Crate

*NOTE: At first I thought this was the same Indian Blood Bitters, especially since the typography was in upper and lower case characters. Now I am thinking this crate might be for another, yet unlisted, Indian Blood Bitters from Portland, Ontario. It could be that T.K. Scovil (listed on crate wrapper) imported the Indian Blood Bitters from Fond du Lac and combined it with a number of other similar products in his ‘Family Medicine Chest’.

[ebay listing] Old family medicine chest, 8 3/8″ tall by 7 1/2″ long by 3 1/2″ wide. Held one bottle Indian Blood Bitters, 50 cents, one bottle Indian Cough Balsam, 50 cents, one bottle Indian Oil, 25 cents, one bottle Deckers Vegetable Pain Remedy, 25 cents, one bottle Deckers Horse and Cattle Liniment, 25 cents, two boxes Indian Pills, 50 cents and one box Deckers Carbolic Salve, 25 cents (that is what it states on one of the torn stained and loosely attached labels). The other labels decry the merits and uses for Indian Blood Bitters, Indian Cough Balsam and parts of three of the Deckers product labels.

Apparently Deckers Pain Remedy was good for bites from poisonous reptiles. Deckers Carbolic Salve was used in the war of 1854 according to the label. This wood crate has the original aged wood patina and shows its age but still a piece of the old west. On the top where there once existed a sliding top, there are small pieces missing at the very top which I have tried to show in the photos.


Indian Blood Bitters medicine crate – ebay


Indian Blood Bitters medicine crate – ebay

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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