The labeled Constitutional Beverage (Bitters?) from New York


The labeled Constitutional Beverage (Bitters?) from New York

18 March 2014

Apple-Touch-IconAI suppose many of you may have noticed that gorgeous, rectangular, yellow-olive, Constitutional Beverage bottle in the Glass Works Auctions “Winter be Gone” Catalogue Auction 101 that ended last night. I bet many of you are not aware that this bottle is catalogued as a labeled bitters bottle, C 224 L, in Bitters Bottles by Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham. The listing is below.


L…Constitutional Bitters
// s // CONSTITUTIONAL / BEVERAGE / W. OLMSTEAD & CO // sp // NEW YORK // *Incorrectly spelled “Olmstead” in Bitters Bottles
292 Washington Street New York
10 1/4 x 3 3/4 x 2 1/4
Rectangular, Amber
Note: New York City Directory 1868 until 1878, Public Ledger (Philadelphia), July 28, 1869


“W. OLMSTED & CO. – CONSTITUTIONAL / BEVERAGE – NEW YORK.”, (Ring/Ham, C-224L), New York, ca. 1865 – 1875, yellow olive semi-cabin, 10 1/4”h, smooth base, applied mouth. – Glass Works Auctions


The labeled (without label) Constitution Bitters, Constitutional Beverage, W. Olmsted & Co., New York – Meyer Collection


As you can can see, this is a pretty darn cool bottle. Look at that applied ring mouth. Killer! Many times you will see this bottle miss-spelled “Olmstead” instead of the correct spelling “Olmsted”. So who is W. Olmstead?

From most accounts, I can see that Waller Olmsted was born on July 1, 1809 in Pennsylvania. His father was born in Connecticut and his mother, Rhoda Brown, was born in Pennsylvania. He was married to Maria Downer. Waller’s flame shone brightly from 1868 to 1880 in New York City. He set up Olmsted and Company at 292 Washington Street but commuted to Brooklyn where he lived. One year he was even listed as a doctor. Waller produced a “Beverage” (embossed on bottle) which was kind of smart and fairly unique in the bitters world. This allowed him to sell it as a drink, bitters, patent medicine and tonic. It is like he couldn’t make up his mind. What we need to find here is some advertising and a labeled example to clarify his intent. Obviously a form that represents a bitters bottle, I sure would like some more evidence. Oh, and this bottle is coming to Houston. Some records show Waller Olmsted fading away in Elmira, New York.

Olmsted & Company – Waller Olmsted

1809: Waller Olmsted born 1 July 1809. Born in Pennsylvania. Father born in Connecticut, Mother (Rhoda Brown) born in Pennsylvania, Spouse Maria Downer – 1880 United States Federal Census

1868: Olmsted & Co. (Waller Olmsted), patent medicines, 292 Washington, h – Brooklyn, New York City Directory

1869: Olmsted & Co. (Waller Olmsted), beverage, 292 Washington, h Brooklyn – New York City Directory

1870: W. Olmsted & Co., meds, (Olmsted refused) 292 Washington – New York City Directory

1872: Olmsted & Co. (Waller Olmsted), tonic, 292 Washington, h Brooklyn – New York City Directory

1873: Waller Olmstead, (M. D.) 292 Washington, N.Y. h Throop av. c Walton – Brooklyn New York City Directory

1874: Olmsted & Co. (Waller Olmsted), patent medicines, 292 Washington – New York City Directory

1875: Olmsted & Co. (Waller Olmsted), bitters, 292 Washington – New York City Directory

1876 – 1879: Olmsted & Co. (Waller Olmsted), patent medicines, 292 Washington – New York City Directory

1880: Olmsted & Co. (Waller Olmsted), tonics, 292 Washington, h Brooklyn – New York City Directory

1884 – 1889: Waller Olmsted, h 109 E Hudson – Elmira New York City Directory

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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