M. McDonald Melbourne Australian Hop Bitters
29 November 2013
Bill Ham tipped me off to an extremely rare, M. McDonald Melbourne Australian Hop Bitters on ebay. At first I thought I had not seen the bottle before, but later recognized that I had seen it on one of the Aussie sites or on Travis Dunn’s ABCR site. As a matter of fact, there are two examples on Pinterest that take you to David Bruce and ABCR Auctions. Both are pictured at the top of this post and are different variants. Notice the difference in the typography and the indented panel (left – A 139.7) and flat panel (right – A 139.6).
Many of us bitters collectors are aware of the Australian hop bitters products like Dr. Soules Hop Bitters and others with names from United States cities like the Philadelphia Hop Bitters, New York Hop Bitters and the extremely rare, Boston Hop Bitters. Some US collectors have elected to collect these examples while others have stayed with strictly United States bitters. I really see very little difference as these bottles are part of bottle history and do have the words bitters on them. A number of them grace my shelves.
The Carlyn Ring and Bill Ham listing in Bitters Bottles Supplement for the two bottles is as follows:
(A 139.4 not pictured in post)
A 139.4 AUSTRALIAN / HOP BITTERS // MDELBOURNE // f // M. McDONALD //
9 3/4 x 3 3/8 x 1 7/8
Rectangular, Aqua and Honey Amber, LTC, Applied mouth, 3 sp, Extremely rare
Michael McDonald and Company was in business at 18 Franklin Street West, Melbourne, beginning in 1875. In 1883, the E. J. Prevot Factory at 11 Madeline Street, North Melbourne was purchased. A branch was established at 53 Errard Street in Ballarat. McDonald left the firm sometime between 1890 and 1893.
Broken examples found in Honey Amber. An Australian bitters.
A 139.6 Crown motif / TRADE / MARK / AUSTRALIAN / HOP / BITTERS // MELBOURNE // f // M. McDONALD //
9 3/4 x 3 3/8 x 2
Rectangular, Aqua, LTC, Applied mouth, 3 sp, Extremely rare
An Australian bitters
A 139.7 Crown motif / TRADE / MARK / AUSTRALIAN / HOP / BITTERS // MELBOURNE // f // M. McDONALD //
9 7/8 x 3 3/8 x 2
Rectangular, Aqua, LTC, Applied mouth, 3 sp, Extremely rare (indented panel, smaller copy)
An Australian bitters
The ebay listing reads as follows:
Perfect Condition, Blobby Lip McDonalds Melbourne Bitters – Medicine Shape
These rare bottles are a break away from the ‘cabin shape’ used by 19th c Bitters proprietors in Australia. This is quite a tall, heavy bottle with numerous bubbles throught & it is in perfect condition (needs a bit more of a clean internally) Ive taken photos without a flash in natural outdoor light to highlight this is a mint example. I dont collect junk, nor do I sell it.. Note the bottle stands 10″ (25.5cm) high & 3 5/8″ (8.7cm) wide – it is embossed ‘Australian Hop Bitters’ on the front panel underneath a large crown. ‘M.McDonald/ Melbourne’ on the 2 recessed panels. No base mark. The brown ‘Cabin’ is embossed Boston Hop Bitters (see below) with a Flag TM & will be for sale at $2,350 at a later date – perfect, attic mint condition. – ribbon seal (100%)
‘McDonald & Co’ (M. McDonald & F. J. O’Brien, Carlton) – see bottle example below
1888: M. McDonald, Madeline street, Carlton – Hop bitters, Official Record of the Centennial International Exhibition Melbourne: 1888-1889