Rees’ Orange Tonica – The Best Bitters in the World

OrangeTonicaCardLabel

Rees’ Orange Tonica

The Best Bitters in the World 

OrangeBittersSeriesArtRisley Co. Sole Proprietors and Manufacturers – New York

PART OF THE ORANGE BITTERS SERIES

19 February 2014

Apple-Touch-IconAWell, this is the last advertising trade card from authority Joe Gourd in the Orange bitters series. I thought that maybe this would be one of the more difficult bitters to identify but that is really not the case. All of the clues are on the front of the card and represented on the illustrated bottle label, including “Risley & Company”, “New York” and “151 Chamber Street”. The calendar on the reverse of the trade card, actually dates the product with “1882”.

Rees’ Orange Tonica, “The Best Bitters in the World”, was put out by Charles F. Risley & Co. in New York City. Charles was the son of nationally known druggist, Hubbell W. Risley. Their most successful product seemed the be THE PHILOTOKEN or FEMALES FRIEND which was a “cure for painful menstruation” (see label proof below).

HubbellProof

The Philotoken or Females Friend label proof from a woodcut signed by Hubbell W. Risley – Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

The Risley name was huge in the drug world starting with Hubbell W. Risley who was born in New York City near Pearl Street and Cherry in 1807. At the ripe young age of 15, he worked at Ayer’s Drug Store in Bridgeport, Connecticut and by his 18th birthday was hired in Middletown, Connecticut by Haviland, Keyes & Co., Druggists, to go to Augusta, Georgia to represent the firm there.

Risley thrived in Augusta with the business now renamed, Haviland, Harral & Risley. They had four large drug houses including one in New York City, one in Augusta, one in Charleston and one in Mobile. For several years, the firm did the most drug business in the country.

ReesOrangeTonicafront

Rees’ Orange Tonica trade card front – Joe Gourd Collection

Around 1858, James Harrral and Hubbell Risley sold their southern branches and focused their business operations in New York City. Haviland retired and a new co-partnership was formed between Harral, Risley & Kitchen (William K. Kitchen). They operated two large stores at the corner of Reade and Church Streets where they conducted business for two or three years. When Kitchen retired, Charles F. Risley, James Harral, Jr. and Charles H. Thompson became members of the firm and continued business at 140 Chambers Street until about 187o when the business was dissolved and Charles F. Risley & Co. was formed. This is when Rees’ Orange Tonica first makes an appearance, with alcohol. The product had a long run and eventually ended up as a vegetable tonic, probably because of prohibition.

Rees’ Orange Tonica is also unlisted in Bitters Bottles and Bitters Bottles Supplement. Please make note that the word “Bitters” is only used in marketing phrases and advertising. I do not believe a bottle exists with the word ‘Bitters” on it.

RisleysExtractBuchuBottle

Risley’s Extract Buchu New York bottle

Select Risley Timeline Events

1807: Hubbell W. Risley, born New York City.

abt 1822 – 1825: Risley works at Ayer’s Drug store for 3 years in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

abt 1825: In Middletown, Connecticut, Risley engaged by large drug firm there, Haviland Keyes & Co. to go to Augusta, Georgia to represent the firm there.

abt 1825 – 1855: Risley thrives in Augusta, Georgia with Haviland, Harral & Risley. They have four large drug houses, one in New York City, one in Augusta, one in Charleston and one in Mobile.

abt 1858: James Harrral and Hubbell Risley sell their southern branches and focus on New York City. Haviland retires and co-partnership formed between Harral, Risley & Kitchen (William K. Kitchen). Had two large stores at the corner of Reade and Church Streets. Did business for two or three years. When Kitchen retires, Charles F. Risley, James Harrall, Jr. and Charles H. Thompson become members of the firm and continued business at 140 Chambers Street until about 187o when the business is dissolved.

1865: Harral, Risley & Tompkins advertisement, 141 Chambers and 1 Hudson Streets, New York City

1867: Advertisement “Beauty, Health, Physical Comfort” use Philotoken (see bottle below), Sold by Druggists. Harral, Risley & Co. Wholesale Druggists, 141 Chamber Street, New York – National Freemason, 1867 also advertisements below from the Sacramento Daily Union

RisleysPhilotokenFaulkner

BeautyHealthPhysicalRisley

Advertisement “Beauty, Health, Physical Comfort” use Philotoken – National Freemason, 1867

RisleysExtractBuchu1867

Risley’s Extract Buchu advertisement – Sacramento Daily Union, 28 August 1867

ImpartialSufferingsRisley1867

The Philotoken or Females Friend advertisement, Harral, Risley & Co. – Sacramento Daily Union, 28 August 1867

1870: Charles F. Risley & Co. No. 64 Courtland Street.

1870: Book: Glass with Care from Risley & Co., 151 Chambers St., New York, Rees’ Orange Tonica … To Jobbers Only. – Risley & Co., 1870

1872: The advertisement below was run in the 1875 John F. Henry, Curran & Co.’s Catalogue. – HairRaisingStories.com Notice Morgan & Risley. There must have been other drug co-partnerships.

RISLEY_HC_1872Rees

Risley’s Preparations advertisement, 1875 John F. Henry, Curran & Co.’s Catalogue. Notice all of the Risley products.- HairRaisingStories.com

1880: “When ordering a cocktail, see that the bartender uses Rees’ Orange Tonica advertisement (see below) – The Sun (New York City, New York), September 05, 1880

WhenOrderingGetRees

When ordering a cocktail, see that the bartender uses Rees Orange Tonica – The Sun (New York City, New York), September 05, 1880

1882: Rees’ Orange Tonica trade card (post feature)

1911: Rees’ Orange Tonica 22.73 Alcohol per cent, Risley & Co., New York – Annual Report of the State Board of Health of Massachusetts, 1911

ReesOrangeTCback

Rees’ Orange Tonica trade card back – Joe Gourd Collection

RisleyObit

Hubbell W. Risley Obituary – New York Times, August 31, 1882

OrangeBittersSeriesArt

Mamma’s Recipes for Keeping Papa Home – Herdrich’s Bitters

Grandfather’s Perfect Orange Bitters

Bernard’s Orange Bitters and a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland

Pale Orange Bitters and PJ Murray’s Ghost

De Kuyper’s Orange Bitters

Mack’s Orange Tonic Bitters – a sweet bitters from Orlando

California Aromatic Orange Bitters – San Francisco

Fine Aromatic Orange Stomach Bitters – Berry, Demoville & Co. – Nashville

Roped Squares – Baker’s Orange Grove Bitters

The Color Orange in Antique Bottles & Glass

More on the Color Orange in Antique Glass

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.
This entry was posted in Advertising, Bitters, Druggist & Drugstore, Ephemera, History, Medicines & Cures, Remedy, Tonics, Trade Cards and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply