Kennedy’s East India Bitters – Omaha, Nebraska

K26_KennedysEastIndiaBoitters_MeyerKennedy’s East India Bitters – Omaha, Nebraska

18 August 2014 (R•022218) (R•071219)

Apple-Touch-IconAEarlier today I put up a post on a Boston product called East India Root Bitters by George P. Clapp. It reminded me of my clear Kennedy’s East India Bitters from Omaha, Nebraska, if only by name. It even has an ever-so-slight, olive striation in the neck. How cool is that?


Read about a found Kennedy’s East India Bitters: Daily Dose – November 2013

The brand first make’s an appearance in 1865 advertising in Cairo, Illinois (below) that references testimonials in 1863. Patrick Kennedy is the proprietor in Cincinnati. In an 1864 Cincinnati directory, he has the word’s Kennedy’s Nervine Invigorator next to his name which is repeated on the third line below.

We also know of bottle examples that have been dug in holes from the same period. What is interesting is that the bottle looked basically the same all these years.

Using East India as a reference in the name was obviously an attempt to give it global presence and mystique.


[Wikipedia] The East India Company (EIC), originally chartered as the Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies, and more properly called the Honourable East India Company, was an English, and later (from 1707) British joint-stock company, formed to pursue trade with the East Indies but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent, Qing Dynasty China, North-West Frontier Province and Balochistan. The company rose to account for half of the world’s trade, particularly trade in basic commodities that included cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, saltpetre, tea and opium. The company also ruled the beginnings of the British Empire in India.


Advertisement: Kennedy’s East India Bitters – The Independent Record, Saturday, June 7, 1884

The Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles is as follows:

K 26 KENNEDY’S ( au ) / EAST INDIA / BITTERS / ILER & CO / OMAHA NEB // f // f // f //
8 7/8 x 2 7/8 ( 7 3/8) 3/8
Square, NSC, Tooled lip, 1 sp, Clear – Common; Amber – Rare
Note: Iler manufactured American Life Bitters. Classified as a medicine, and therefore tax exempt, July 27, 1883. Trade Mark No. 9508 dated July, 1882. In use since 1860.
Trade Card: These bitters do not require starvation or unnatural exercise, but leave the patient at liberty to eat any healthful food his appetite may crave.
OMAHA, NEB. // f // f // f //
4 1/8 x 1 1/2 (3) 3/16
Square, Clear, NSC, Tooled lip, Scarce

138. “KENNEDYS / EAST INDIA / BITTERS / ILER & CO / OMAHA, NEB.”, Ring/Ham, K-26), Nebraska, ca. 1900 – 1910, clear glass, 9”h, smooth base, tooled mouth. 98% very graphic front and rear labels. The bottle is perfect. This is the first one we’ve seen with an original label! Larry Umbreit Collection. Glass Works Auctions – Auction 119


Fully labeled (front & back) Kennedy’s East India Bitters sample bottle – Meyer Collection

Many bitters collectors are familiar with Iler & Co. Not only were they the sole manufacturers of Kennedy’e East India Bitters but also American Life Bitters.

A 049 (American Life)

American Life Bitters – Tiffin, Ohio Varient – Meyer Collection

Read about Iler & Company and American Life Bitters: Log Cabin Series – American Life Bitters


Iler & Co billhead. Sole Manufacturers of American Life and Kennedy’s East India Bitters, 08 March 1897 – Gourd Collection


10 cases Kennedy’s East India Bitters billhead, May 24, 1898 – Meyer Collection


Iler & Co billhead. Sole Manufacturers of American Life and Kennedy’s East India Bitters, 11 August, 1891 – Gourd Collection


Labeled Kennedy’s East India Bitters – source unknown

Four Mikado trade card faces. Reverse (below) advertising Kennedy’s East India Bitters – Joe Gourd Collection

Reverse of Mikado trade cards (above) for W. J. Van Schuyver & Co. advertising Kennedy’s East India Bitters – Joe Gourd Collection

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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