Looking forward to Bitters Bottles Supplement 2


Looking forward to Bitters Bottles Supplement 2

02 February 2014 (Updated 09 February 2014 with Bill Ham Response)

Apple-Touch-IconAThe following e-mail came in from James Viguerie that poses some questions that some of you may be wondering yourselves. Bill will be responding and I will add to this post. The book cover art above is for illustrative purposes only.

Read More: Cataloging of Bitters Bottles – Bill Ham

Bill & Ferd

Hello to you both! I wanted to find out the best way to contribute information to the next version of the Bitters Bottles Supplement book. Currently I have been sending my research, individual bitters by bitters, to Ferd to go with articles on Peachridge Glass. I enjoy doing research and this has been fun to do as my time permitted.

However, I know that another bitters book is in the works and most likely has a deadline before it needs to go to press. I have quite a bit of research on bottles including bitters. Twenty years ago I did quite a bit of research in archives, libraries and anywhere else I could find information. This included searching through records at the local patent office when I lived in Springfield, Illinois. I was trying to find out more of the square HORSE SHOE BITTERS / PATENTED bottle that I had (and since had auctioned off at the FOHBC 2007 Collinsville, Illinois show – and Ferd now has). Read: The wonderful Horse Shoe Bitters from Collinsville, Illinois

I was fascinated at all the patent records on bottles and ended up making a copy of  every single one. Unfortunately, these are hard copies. Technology has changed quite a bit since then. At the time I did the research, Carlyn Ring’s was the most recent bitters book. I saw I had hundreds of bitters that she did not include. I figured they would be good for a future book. Little did I know that two new bitters books were the works. It was too late to contribute to them by the time I bought copies (great books by the way!). Since then I had moved and much of my research has been boxed up.

Druggist bottles are now my main interest, and the main focus of my research today. I have a future website and book in mind to share what I have found with collectors. As part of that effort I have started to dig through my old research and came across some of what I had on bitters. I never had checked these against the Bitters Bottles and Bitters Bottles Supplement books. Last night I went though some and found 30 bitters that either were not listed, or provided more information than what was in the books. For example for B 25 (Dr. Thos. H. Barnes Anti-Dyspeptic & Family Bitters) I have the full patent record (132,233) and see that S. M. Barnes was actually Sarah M. Barnes. I thought it was interesting that a woman had put a bitters out in 1872 (maybe Ferd will do a story on her at Peachridge Glass).

PRG: Working on Dr. Thos. H. Barnes Anti-Dyspeptic & Family Bitters post.

Anyway, all this made me wonder what the best way to get information into any new books. I have a number of questions:

1) Will paper label only bitters continue to be listed? I am sure 80% of the bitters I have come across must be paper label only of none have been found so far. Do you want pictures of label only bitters? I use to have a few unlisted ones. I sold some off but I know I still have at least 3 that are not pictured in any bitters books.

2) How should I communicate research? Should I just continue to send then one at a time to Ferd? Should I also forward information to Bill too? My time becomes limited at times and would hate to miss the boat of getting this information into a third book.

4) Have one of you searched the patent records already? I know there is now a way to search online. I will hold off scanning and typing all mine up if you already have this information.

Here are a few I did not see listed at all:

“Beck’s Medicinal Bitters” – Theodore Beck – Omaha Nebraska – patent 110,423 December 27, 1870

“The Oregon Chittum Bitters” – George W. Brown – Portland Oregon – patent 130,409 August 13, 1872.

PRG from upcoming Bitters Bottles Supplement 2:

O 76.2 OREGON CHITTUM / BITTERS // f // DR. G. W. BROWN’S // f //
App 9 ½
Square. Amber, LTCR, Applied mouth, Extremely rare
G. W. Brown was a druggist in Portland Oregon.
Example dug in Portland Oregon area

“The Unk-weed Remedy” – Abram M. Loryea – Portland Oregon – patent 116,846 July 11, 1871 for a “Improvement in Medical Compounds or Bitters”.

Some of the patents I have are for the actual recipes for bitters. They do not always mention the brand. They many only indicate it is for a new “Tonic Bitters”. I tried to match up the patentees name to bitters in the books but this is very manual – hard copy patents to a hard copy bitters books. I only looked at the names being at the start of a brand. I am sure I may have missed some. For example I had a patent, 116,310, by Moritz Holst for a “Improvement in Medical Compounds or Bitters. I only looked for a bitters in the book under “H” for Holst. If there were a listing for some MEMPHIS TURNIP BITTERS // MORITZ HOLST I would have missed it. Hopefully, you can do a search electronically against anything I send. (and yes I made up that brand name).

I also have some trade cards and other bitters go-withs that are not in any books. Unfortunately, a physical book does have a size limitation so was not sure how much content you were looking for.

PRG: We need to involve Bitters Trade Card authority Joe Gourd here.

Sorry for the long email. I look forward to reading the new Bitters book when it comes out. I will also continue to look forward to reading about new Bitters when people write about them on Peachridge Glass.

Take care,

James Viguerie


I’ll let Bill chime in first but will add here that Bill and I work pretty closely together on all new bitters and update existing information brought forth by new research and information. I have a digital copy of  Bitters Bottles Supplement 2 (or whatever Bill wants to call it) and reference and update it constantly with Bill.


What is happening with a Second Bitters Bottles Supplement?

09 February 2014

BillHamTallbwCataloging of bitters by the various authors has been an ongoing and evolving process. Each new publication has added and increased the information. Each new publication is also somewhat reflective of the changes in collector interest, and the interests of the author. The first bitters bottles books listed only bottles with the word “BITTERS” embossed in the glass. In FOR BITTERS ONLY, Carlyn Ring listed many brands found in advertisements and directories. With time, many bitters bottles that at first were only known from advertisements were found.

With Carolyn Rings permission, I updated the cataloging and published BITTERS BOTTLES, in 1998. In that publication, the color description were updated, and mouth finish was added, along with new additions, and updated and revisions of some listings. 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. Many previously uncataloged brands were added. The cover design for this book was influenced by the “look” of the early Stephen Van Rensselear book and using a strip of the bottle silhouettes from FOR BITTERS ONLY.

The information that was available at the time was used. Since that time, vast amounts of additional information has become available through contemporary research techniques, the Internet, and auction price guide summaries. Bottles with the word BITTERS, as well as paper labeled bitters, and bitters advertisements in magazines, and trade cards and listings in business directories are listed.

When publishing the BITTERS BOTTLES SUPPLEMENT in 2004, more than 450 more previously unlisted bottles were added, as well as correcting data and adding additional information on many previously recorded brands.

The overall goal of the listings is include the many brands of bitters, which were put up and sold in embossed and/or labeled containers, and to accurately describe those containers that have the word BITTERS embossed. The bottle listings are illustrated with schematic drawings in approximately one-fourth scale, with the exact embossing shown as close as possible, and the listings indicate bottle dimensions. This is so that different sizes and variants of a brand can be identified, and also one could possibly identify a bottle from a broken piece with only partial embossing. Brief information on manufacturer, proprietor and where a product was made and or distributed are included.

Although there are color plates showing many bottles, showing photographs of all bottles would make an extremely large and cumbersome publication. There are so many attractive and interesting bottles, that it is always difficult to choose those for the limited space that is available for color plates.

The cataloging of bitters bottles, and brands and collecting information on bitters has continued since the 2004 publication. The current draft has way more than 450 new, revised or updated listings. Information has been gathered for new listings and updating existing listings from Auction Catalogs, Ebay, Ferdinand and his Peachridge Glass site, bottles observed at bottle shows, and from information found or given to me.

I am positive that there are still examples of uncataloged bitters bottles brands out there that are unknown to collectors and more and more of them keep showing up.

I have been working closely with Ferdinand and expect that we will eventually publish a Second SUPPLEMENT. No target date for publication has been set at this time, and there is a lot of work still needed before an additional SUPPLEMENT will be ready to publish.

A document like this cannot be produced without you the collectors helping and contributing. You can send information on uncataloged bitters and supporting information of listed brands to me at billham9@gmail.com or to Ferdinand at fmeyer@fmgdesign.com. We appreciate your help and patience as the next SUPPLEMENT is assembled and gotten ready for publication.

Bill Ham

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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