Indian Blood Bitters
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
09 October 2013
Mark 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:
I 14 INDIAN BLOOD BITTERS
INDIAN BLOOD BITTERS / STERLING MED. CO. / FOND DU LAC. WIS. // f // f // f //
9 x 2 ¾ (6 ¾) ¼
Square, Amber, LTC, Tooled lip, 1 sp, Extremely rare
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.
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.
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.