An unlisted Russell’s Alterative and Tonic Bitters


An unlisted Russell’s Alterative and Tonic Bitters

18 April 2014 (R•041914) (R•040819)

RussellsCastanaine Apple-Touch-IconAYou may have remembered the 1836 Russell’s Stomach Bitters post from Vermont the other day. Bitters trade card authority Joe Gourd, saw the post and went looking in his collection. He found an unlisted ‘Russell’s Alternative and Tonic Bitters’ advertising trade card series, made and sold by E. S. Russell, in Nashua, New Hampshire. He asks, “Could this be a ‘shirt-tail’ relative of the Vermont Russell?”

Elias Smith Russell was born on 21 November 1819 (conflicting birth date: History of Amherst and Town Records: 21 November, Gravestone: 27 November) in Middleton, Strafford County, New Hampshire (some records oddly say Massachusetts). His father was David Russell and his mother was Lydia Jeffreys McIntire. Elias was first married to Caroline Southach Goss who died in 1845. He then married Sara R. Whittemore on 19 May 1846. John J. Whittemore would later become is partner. In 1870 and 1880, Federal Census records show that he was married to Helen M. Russell.

Elias S. Russell was typically listed as an Apothecary and Druggist at various address locations in Nashua, New Hampshire from around 1845 until after the turn of the century. The first advertisement I could find said he had a ‘Family Medicine Store’ and advertised the ‘Sign of the Good Samaritan’. He was a dealer in drugs, medicines, chemicals, European Leeches, Surgeons’ Instruments, Perfumery, Brushes, Trusses, Shakers, Herbs etc. Later advertisements say he was actually established in 1840.


Some of the brands and bottles you might find by Russell include Russell’s Castanaine for the Hair and Skin, Russell’s Unrivaled Tooth Powder, Russell’s Worm Elixir and of course, Russell’s Alterative and Tonic Bitters which will need a catalog listing in Bitters Bottles Supplement 2.

Trade Cards
R 127.9  RUSSELL’S ALTERNATIVE AND TONIC BITTERS, Made and Sold by E. S. Russell, Nashua, N. H.
Elias Smith Russell was a Druggist and Apothecary


Russell’s business partner from 1868 until 1881 was John J. Whittemore who must have been his wife’s brother or father. In 1885, Bradford Allen became the proprietor of the noted drug store that was established by Elias S. Russell. Russell died on August 17, 1904 in Nashua.

I could not find any connection with Elias S. Russell to the Vermont Russell. Who knows? The day is only half over.

Select Elias S. Russell Milestones

1845: E. S. Russell, Apothecary, 5 Earys’ Block (see ad below), Nashua, New Hampshire City Directory
ES_RussellAd1845 1853: Elias S. Russell, Druggist, 18 Park Street, Nashua, New Hampshire City Directory
1860: E. S. Russell advertisement (see below) for Russell’s Castanaine for the Hair and Skin and Russell’s Unrivaled Tooth Powder.


1870: Elias S. Russel & Co., Apothecaries and Druggists, 69 Main street – Nashua, New Hampshire City Directory
1883: Elias S. Russell, Apothecary, 69, Main (see ad below), 37 Franklin (house), Nashua, New Hampshire City Directory


1885: Bradford Allen (see picture below) became the proprietor of the noted drug store that was established by Elias S. Russell – History of Nashua, NH


1903: Russell as an honorary member of the New Hampshire Pharmaceutical Association (see below), from Proceedings – New Hampshire Pharmaceutical Association, 1904


E. S. Russell Advertising Trade Cards from the Joe Gourd Collection

ES_RussellDruggistCardFront_Gourd10 ES_RussellDruggistTCFront2_Gourd10 ES_RussellDruggistTCFront3_Gourd10

Trade Cards from The Joe Gourd Collection
Labeled example courtesy George Waddy
Three E. S. Russell bottles courtesy Brandon DeWolfe

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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