Hufeland Swiss Stomach Bitters


Hufeland Swiss Stomach Bitters

14 September 2014 (R•091814)

Apple-Touch-IconAJerry Forbes brought a labeled Hufeland Swiss Stomach Bitters from the Downieville Bottle Show back to our cabin last night. I think he purchased it for $25. This joins some other exciting bitters that were picked up and spotted at the show yesterday.


The primary label reads “Hufeland Swiss Stomach Bitters“, N. Van Bergen & Co., Sole Manufacturers, San Francisco“. The secondary, oval label reads, “First Premium Awarded by the Mechanics Institute, San Francisco, 1860“. So the brand has been around for some time as this is an 1890s or so bottle. There is no embossing. The graphics are really neat showing three men, one presumably a doctor.


N. Vergen & Company, as you can see from the listing below, is Nicholas Van Bergen, John W. Van Bergen and Fritz Habenicht. Nicholas was also associated with Kohler & Van Bergen.


Crocker-Langley San Francisco directory for the year 1899

[from Eric McGuire] Regarding Jerry’s very nice labeled example of the Hufeland’s Bitters bottle, as you noted, it all began with J. G. Frisch, the earliest proprietor. I have attached a copy of the label (see below) which was deposited with the Secretery of State of California as Trade Mark No. 40, in 1864.


Frisch was an important figure in the early liquor industry of California but is not well known, as he died fairly early in the history of the West. Johann Gottfried Frisch died in San Francisco on December 26, 1865. That Thomas Taylor, the well known San Francisco and Virginia City liquor dealer would succeed in Frisch’s business was natural since Taylor was running the business anyway in Frisch’s later years, and most importantly, Taylor was his son-in-law. He had married J. G. and Dorotea Frisch’s daughter, Bertha. To make things even more interesting, the Frisch’s had another daughter, Wilhelmine. She married Amandus Fenkhausen, who was also a successful San Francisco liquor dealer.


Dr. Hufeland Swiss Stomach Bitters advertisement – Mariposa Gazette, 24 April 1868


Dr. Hufeland Swiss Stomach Bitters advertisement – The Virginia and Truckee Railroad Directory, 1873-74

Christoph Wilhelm Friedrich Hufeland (12 August 1762, Langensalza – 25 August 1836, Berlin) was a German physician. He is famous as the most eminent practical physician of his time in Germany and as the author of numerous works displaying extensive reading and a cultivated critical faculty. Hufeland was born at Langensalza, Saxony (now Thuringia) and educated at Weimar, where his father held the office of court physician to the grand duchess. In 1780 he entered the University of Jena, and in the following year went on to Göttingen, where in 1783 he graduated in medicine.


After assisting his father for some years at Weimar, he was called in 1793 to the chair of medicine at Jena, receiving at the same time the positions of court physician and professor of Pathology at Weimar. In 1798 Frederick William III of Prussia granted him the position director of the medical college and generally of state medical affairs at the Charité, in Berlin. He filled the chair of pathology and therapeutics in the University of Berlin, founded in 1809, and in 1810 became councillor of state. In 1823, he was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

In time he became as famous as Goethe, Herder, Schiller, and Wieland in his homeland.

Hufeland was the inventor of the term macrobiotic, was Physician Royal to the King of Prussia, as well as giving medical attention to the following illustrious patients: “Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832), Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803), Schiller (1739-1805), and Christoph Martin Wieland (1732-1813).” He was also a close friend of Samuel Hahnemann and published many of his original writings in his Journal. He also “joined the Illuminati order at this time, having been introduced to freemasonry in Göttingen in 1783.” He also seems to have professed an interest in Chinese Alchemy and methods of extending longevity.

The most widely known of his many writings is the treatise entitled Makrobiotik oder Die Kunst, das menschliche Leben zu verlängern (1796), which was translated into many languages, including in Serbian by Dr. Jovan Stejić in Vienna in 1828. Of his practical works, the System of Practical Medicine (System der praktischen Heilkunde, 1818-1828) is the most elaborate. From 1795 to 1835 he published a Journal der praktischen Arznei und Wundarzneikunde. His autobiography was published in 1863. [Wikipedia]

We have written about Bergen before. Read: Old Dr. C. W. Hufeland’s German Bitters – For Dyspepsia

This appears to be unlisted variant of the Dr. Hufeland’s Swiss Stomach Bitters. The Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles for a very similar labeled example reads:

H 206 L … Dr. Hufeland’s Celebrated Swiss Stomach Bitters
J. G. Frisch, Sole manufacturer and proprietor, San Francisco, California
11 3/4 x 3 1/4 (6 1/2)
Round, amber, LTCR

Notice that J. G. Frisch is the sole manufacturer and proprietor. Frisch is rather well-known to Western bitters collectors as he put out the California Bitters.

Here is a new listing that will be used in Bitters Bottles Supplement 2:

H 207.3 L … Hufeland Swiss Stomach Bitters, Van Bergen & Co., Sole Manufacturers, San Francisco
12 ¼ x 3 1/2
Round, Dark green, ARM, Applied mouth
Van Bergen & Co was Sole Agent for Barkhouse Bros. & Co Gold Dust Bourbon in business from 1871 till the 1890s.
J.G. Frisch trademarked the Hufeland Swiss Stomach Bitters brand, No. 40 in the State of California in 1864.
Thomas Taylor & Co., Sole Agents for Dr. Hufland’s Swiss Stomach Bitters, No. 72 South C Street, Virginia, Nevada, The Virginia and Truckee Railroad Directory, 1873-4

Read: California Bitters / Manufactured only by / J. G. Frisch San Francisco

Kegs of lard, 25-pound shipments of dry mustard, barrels of tar and even a new safe were among the items recorded in invoice logs being shipped to the largely uninhabited frontier. The records are all written in immaculate cursive handwriting, showing products delivered by companies such as Taylor & Bender Wholesale Grocers, “sole agents for Dr. Hufeland’s celebrated Swiss stomach bitters.”

An invoice ledger from the late 1890s recently donated by the Alaska Commercial Co., that includes order forms and invoices. The first known shipment of Pilot Bread to Alaska is listed among the items.

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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