Where is the Columbia Cascara Bitters from?


Where is the Columbia Cascara Bitters from?

23 March 2014 (R•082819)

Apple-Touch-IconAGary Beatty (North Port, Florida) has sent me more pictures (see top of post) for yet another odd bitters that I was not aware of, this being the Columbia Cascara Bitters. Gary mentioned in his e-mail that Bill Ham had rated it as extremely rare and would be giving it a catalog number. Gary won the Cascara Bitters on ebay and said the bottle is square, with four flat sides and chamfered corners, measuring 9 1/2 by 2 3/4 by 2/3/4.

Now this is a tough bottle to research. I may need yo’alls help! First of all, what is Cascara?

CascaFerrineBitters_The Cape Girardeau Democrat., June 10, 1899

Casca Ferrine Bitters advertisement – The Cape Girardeau Democrat, June 10, 1899

Cascara – Sacred Bark

StrippingCascarsBarkCommercially it is called “Cascara Sagrada” (‘sacred bark’ in Spanish), while traditionally it is known as “chittem bark” or “chitticum bark”. The dried, aged bark of R. purshiana has been used continually for many years by both Pacific northwest native peoples and immigrant Euro-Americans as a laxative natural medicine, as one of several anthraquinone-containing herbal medicines including the leaf and fruits of senna, the latex of Aloe vera, and the root of the rhubarb plant. “Extract of cascara sagrada” from cascara bark has been recognized as a tonic laxative and prescribed by doctors since about 1877.

Cascara was found in more drug preparations than any other natural product in North America, and is believed to be the most widely used cathartic in the world.

Cascara is native from northern California to British Columbia and east to the Rocky Mountains in Montana. It is often found along streamsides in the mixed deciduous-coniferous forests of valleys, and in moist montane forests.

By 1877 the U.S. pharmaceutical company Parke-Davis was producing cascara preparations, and soon afterwards cascara products were being exported overseas to European markets. The explosion of the cascara industry caused great damage to native cascara populations during the 1900s, as a result of overharvesting.

In 1999, cascara made up more than 20% of the national laxative market in the U.S., with an estimated value of $400 million. The bark itself was worth approximately $100 million. Cascara was found in more drug preparations than any other natural product in North America, and is believed to be the most widely used cathartic in the world. [Wikipedia]

Checking Bitters Bottles, Bitters Bottles Supplement and the working draft for Bitters Bottles Supplement 2 by Carlyn Ring and Bill Ham I see the following cascara bitters listings:

Labeled, clear square, Casca Ferrine Bitters from Schlesinger & Bender, Inc., 730-738 Brannan, San Francisco, Meyer Brothers Drug Company were the Sole Distributors in St. Louis, Missouri. (C 71 L)

Labeled, amber, round wine shaped Casca Ferrine Bitters Tonic Stomachic Laxative put out by the Sierra Pharmaceutical Company in San Francisco, California (C 72 L)

Labeled, 9 1/2 x 2 3/4 amber square Cascara Bitters from Gauntlett & Brooks, Druggists, Ithica, New York (C 73 L)

Labeled, 9 3/4 x 2 3/4 (7) 3/8, amber square Cascara Bitters from King & Coril, Druggists and Pharmacists in Jefferson, Ohio (C 74 L)

Labeled, 9 x 2 5/8, square, amber, LTCR, Casacara Bitters, J. A. Meriman, Druggist, Silver Cliff, Colorado (C 74.3 L) *forthcoming Bitters Bottles Supplement 2

C 74.3 L . . . Casacara Bitters, J. A. Meriman, Druggist, Silver Cliff, Col.
9 x 2 5/8
Square, Amber, LTCR

Trade card for Cascara Bitters from Riley & Fox, Sole proprietors, Healdsburg, California (C 74.5)

Labeled, 9 1/4 x 2 3/4 (7) 3/8, LTCR, 3 sunken panels, amber square Cascara Bitters from D. Miller in New York (C 75 L)

Labeled, 8 x 2, square, amber, LTC, Cascara Bitters, Frederick Stearns & Co. Pharmacists, Detroit, Michigan. (C 75.5 L) *forthcoming Bitters Bottles Supplement 2

C 75.5 L . . . Cascara Bitters, Frederick Stearns & Co., Pharmacists, Detroit, Michigan
8 x 2
Square, Amber, LTC

9 x 3 (6 3/4) 3/8, square, amber and aqua, DLTC and LTCR, Applied Mouth, Scarce Cascarilla Bitters Co. Kansas City, Mo. Wild Cherry Tonic from D. Miller in New York (C 76)

Here is a listing for Cascara, Burdock and Celery Tonic Bitters that will be added to Bitters Bottles Supplement 2.

Newspaper Advertisemet
C 75.8 CASCARA, BURDOCK AND CELERY TONIC BITTERS, $1.00 per Bottle. A Spring Tonic of Great Merit. Cyrus H. Bowes, Chemist, 98 Government St., near Yates St. Telephone, 425, Daily Colonist (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), May 23, 1902

I also found two unlisted cascara bitters for Greene’s Cascara Bitters and Hammers Cascara Sagrada Bitters (see below):

Advertisement for Greene’s Cascara Bitters, Charles E. Greene, PH. G., Hope Valley, Rhode Island (see advertisement below). A new listing number has also been provided.

Newspaper Advertisement
C 75.7 CASCARA BITTERS, Portrait Chas. E. Greene, PH. G., Hope Valley, R. I., Analytical Manufacturing Chemist, in charge of Laboratory and Prescription Department of Greene’s Pharmacy. Manufacturer and Proprietor of the following standard household remedies, viz: Cascara Bitters, Greene’s Family Medicines – Alfred Sun (New York) 1891-1896

Advertisement for Greene’s Cascara Bitters, Charles E. Greene, PH. G., Hope Valley, Rhode Island – Alfred Sun (New York) 1891-1896

Advertisement for Hammer’s Cascara Sagrada Bitters, Hammer’s Drug Store, Fourth and K Streets, Sacramento, California. (see advertisement below) (H 21 L in Bitters Bottles)


Hammers Cascara Sagrada Bitters – Sacramento Daily Record – March 1881

Gary also sent me an ebay link that Steven Libbey forwarded him for Dr. Dunlop’s Cascara Compound (see below).


Three box sizes for Dr. Dunlop’s Cascara Compound, United States Medicine Company, New York City, N.Y.- ebay

Quite honestly, I have not researched each and every of the Cascara bottle listings above to determine a link to Gary’s bottle. My hunch is that it is a new listing altogether. Can any of you shed any light on Gary’s find?


Casca Ferrine Bitters Label – Lou Holis Collection

Read more from Gary Beatty:

Swiss Stomach Bitters from Zwinger to Koch to Zoeller

An unlisted Home Bitters?

A Morning Call Bitters Comparison

The unlisted German Army Bitters – Ironton, Ohio

Mexican Bitters – Henry C. Weaver – Lancaster, O

Could this be the Nathan’s Celebrated Union Bitters?

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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