The best Lady’s Leg in the Galaxy – Universe Bitters


The best Lady’s Leg in the Galaxy – Universe Bitters

31 May 2014


Apple-Touch-IconAIt was nice seeing the lady’s leg figural, Universe Bitters, from Louisville, Kentucky, at the top of the Top 25 Kentucky’s Rarest Bitter Bottles list. The bottle also placed first on the Top 25 Rarest Kentucky Bottles list. These lists were recently posted in preparation of the FOHBC 2014 National Antique Bottle Show in Lexington, Kentucky. The dark green example, pictured at the top of this post, could be the only intact example. It certainly is the only one that I have seen. The Carlyn Ring and W. C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles is as follows:



12 x 3 1/2 (5)
Round lady’s leg. Green, ARM, Applied mouth, Extremely rare

*Top bottle picture from Bitters Bottles Supplement. Drawing from Bitters Bottles. Courtesy Bill Ham.

Universe Bitters (left) and an E. Longs indian queen in the 1995 Carlyn Ring Collection Sale

This exact bottle was part of the Carlyn Ring Collection: First Offering of 143 Bottles – Part 1 sale in February 1995 (see above). From there it went to the great John Feldmann bitters collection in New York. Since then, after the dispersement of the Feldmann bitters collection in 2012 (see picture below), the bottle has joined the famous bitters collection of Bill Taylor in Oregon. Bill specializes in the lady’s leg form figural bitters.


Universe Bitters (left) – John Feldmann Collection

Johann Bernhard August Horstmann was a liquor dealer who was born in 1835 in Schweiburg, Oldenburg, Germany. His parents were Heinrich Horstmann and Anna Margarethe Friederike Graper. At 22 years old, Horstmann arrived in New York on June 12, 1857 aboard a steamer ship named Arago ready to start a new life. He did not know that the country he so adored so much would be divided so soon. 


August (pictured above), at the age of 26, enrolled with the Union Army, 45th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment (5th German Rifles), on August 29, 1861. He mustered in as a private in Company C on September 9, 1861. He was promoted to corporal on February 3, 1862 and transferred to Company G and promoted to sergeant, June 15, 1862. Next he mustered in as second lieutenant, February 6, 1863, then as first lieutenant and adjutant on May 3, 1863 and eventually as captain of Company H on August 27, 1864. He was discharged on consolidation on June 30, 1865 at Nashville, Tennessee.

August lived and married Amelia Gies on December 10, 1866 in Louisville, Kentucky. They had five children: August, Jr., Ida, Fredrick, Albert, William and George Horstmann. August Horstmann by trade, was a liquor dealer selling copper whiskies, wines and liquors in Louisville, Kentucky from 1871 to 1880 or so. He ran August Horstmann & Co. from 1872 to 1876 with Fredrick Weiss as his partner. They were located at 43 4th street, near main.

Eventually August and his wife and six children moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he continued his trade as a liquor dealer. He died relatively young at 57 years old in St. Louis on June 18, 1892.

Select August Horstmann Timeline Events

1835: Johann Bernhard August Horstmann was born on March 17, 1835 in Hessen, Germany.

1861-1865: Civil War: August Horstmann enlisted in 1861 in New York. He mustered out on June 30, 1865 as Captain at Nashville, Tennessee.

1866: August Horstmann marries Amelia Gies on December 10, 1866 in Louisville, Kentucky

1871: August Horstmann, Wholesale liquors and commerce, whiskies, wines and liquors, 27 4th. between Main and river – Louisville City Directory

1872 – 1876: August Horstmann & Co. (August Horstmann and Frederick Weiss), copper whiskies, wines and liquors, 43 4th, nr main – Louisville City Directory

1877: August Horstmann, copper whiskies, wines and liquors, barley and malt dealer, 45 4th, nr main – Louisville City Directory

1880: August Horstmann, Malsters, Distillers, and Brewers Agents, 105 Main nr 4th – Louisville City Directory

1887: August Horstmann, Wines, 420 to 426 Market – St. Louis City Directory

1890: August Horstmann, liquor – St. Louis City Directory

1892: August Horstmann died in St. Louis, Missouri on June 18, 1892.


Read More: Lady’s Leg Series – Weis Bros Knickerbocker Stomach Bitters

Read More: Russ’ Stomach Bitters – A New York Lady’s Leg

Read More: The old but sexy, Brown & Drake Catawba Bitters lady’s leg

Read More: Labeled Theller’s Bitters Lady’s Leg – New York

Read More: Lady’s Leg Series – Zingari Bitters

Read More: Holloway’s Bitters from Syracuse

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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