Hyde & Gay – Hunk Dori Bitters


Hyde & Gay – Hunk Dori Bitters

25 October 2014

Apple-Touch-IconAHere is another surprise that is up on eBay now. Another unlisted bitters! The pictures have been cleaned up a bit and have been taken from the eBay listing. Alerted by Frank Wicker and Bill Ham, the Hunk Dori Bitters by Hyde & Gay in Bath, Maine is labeled and oddly enough, is missing the “I” in “HUNKI” compared to another HUNKI DORI BITTERS from Chicago (see below). Hunki Dori means “everything is fine” or “satisfied” or something like that. One of those phrases that you just hear about and wonder. I always thought it was a cool bar in Viet Nam or something. An what is it with that ‘hairy eye’ illustration on the label? Pretty weird.


H 210: Hunki Dori Bitters from Chicago – Meyer Collection

Bill Ham has given the labeled HUNK DORI BITTERS the following listing in the forthcoming Bitters Bottles Supplement 2:


H 209.5  L . . . Hunk Dori Bitters, Hyde & Gay, Proprietors, Bath, Me.
9 3/8 x 2 5/8
Amber, Square, LTC, Applied mouth


The labeled HUNK DORI BITTERS – eBay

It was a bit amusing when I first Googled and searched for information on this brand. I got page after page of gay information or more officially homosexual listings. Uh.. no wonder. Looking at the words I entered, “Hunk”, “Gay” and “Bath” seemed to lead me to places that I didn’t know existed.

Anyway, I refined the search and quickly found out we are talking about Henry A. Hyde who was born in 1832 in Maine and worked as a bookseller with his father Henry Hyde in Bath, Maine. The Hyde name was big in Bath as other relatives were in to commerce and shipbuilding in the early to mid 1800s. In 1867, Henry A. was in partnership with a man with the last name Gay. Hyde & Gay were druggists and apothecaries at 2 Bank Block and they were the proprietors of the HUNK DORI BITTERS. You can see the partnership listing on the bottom of the label above.

I wonder if the label is a visual trick? When you see that “HUNK” is missing the “I”, what do you see and wonder about next? The ‘eye’. It was there all along!


Mouth detail of the labeled HUNK DORI BITTERS – eBay


Base of he labeled HUNK DORI BITTERS – eBay

Select Listings

1791: Henry Hyde (father) birth in Lebanon, Connecticut, August 25 1791. Book Seller

1832: Henry A. Hyde (son), birth in Maine

1860: Henry Hyde (bookseller “Henry Hyde kept a “circulating library” in his bookstore on Front, head of Center street, on the corner immediately opposite Lincoln Bank.History of Bath) and Henry A. Hyde (clerk) – 1850 United States Federal Census

1860: Henry Hyde and Henry A. Hyde both book sellers (father and son) – 1860 United States Federal Census

1863: Henry A. Hyde, bookbinder, age 31 – Civil War Draft Registration

1867: Henry Hyde, gentleman, h. Middle, n. Centre – Bath, Brunswick and Richmond Directory for 1867-8

1867: Hyde (H.A.) & Gay (G.D.H.) druggists and apothecaries, 2 Bank block, Front, h. Middle, n. Centre – Bath, Brunswick and Richmond Directory for 1867-8

1870: Henry A. Hyde, druggist, Bath, Maine – 1870 United States Federal Census

1874: Henry A. Hyde marriage to M. L. Manson on 14 January 1874 – Maine Marriage Records

1874-1876: Henry Hyde, H. Hyde, gentleman, (father & son) h. Middle. n. Centre – Bath, Maine City Directory

1900: Henry Hyde, clerk, home Phippsburg, Sagadahoc, Maine – 1900 United States Federal Census

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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One Response to Hyde & Gay – Hunk Dori Bitters

  1. etmcguire says:

    I completely agree with your observation that the missing letter “I” in HUNK is in the pictogram of an eye. Think about how difficult it would be to depict an object with a name that sounds like “eee” but actually represents the letter “I”. After very much pondering, the drawing of an eye leaps forward. There simply aren’t many objects that satisfies the requirements – and an eye may be the only one.
    Perhaps the bigger question is, why would someone want to go in such an odd direction in order to sell bitters? Maybe Hyde & Bath were selling a “ripoff” product and changed their trademark just enough to hopefully avoid a lawsuit.
    On the other hand it appears to be a good marketing tool, as the name tends to stick with you longer than if it were simply spelled out. Reading the label really ends up as a little game, just as you explained in your red colored text, Ferd. Really quite clever.

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