S.O. Dunbar & his Tomato (ya ya ya) Bitters

T35L Tomato and Sarsparilla8

S.O. Dunbar & his Tomato (ya ya ya) Bitters


23 November 2014 (R•112514) (R•060219) (R•082519)

Apple-Touch-IconABitters ephemera authority Joe Gourd, sent me the above handbill from the druggist, S. O. Dunbar from Taunton, Massachusetts. The Tomato, Sarsaparilla, Blackberry, Dandelion and Wild Cherry, Vegetable Compound  Life Renovating Bitters has to be the longest name for a bitters product ever. Samuel Oliver Dunbar pretty much spent his whole life in Taunton. We have heard from Mr. Dunbar before.


“S.O. Dunbar / Taunton Mass” Ink Bottle, America, 1840-1860. Twelve sided, bright blue green, sheared mouth – pontil scar, ht. 2 1/4 inches; (shallow 1/8 inch flake from base edge). C #520 Interesting 1/4 inch piece of glass adhered to side. Rare in this color. Strong embossing. Ex Roger Long collection. – Heckler Auctions

I didn’t have to look far for good information as Ed and Lucy Faulkner, from up Virginia way, had done a nice article in the FOHBC Bottles and Extras back in 2010. Makes sense, as Ed and Lucy are ink bottle authorities and Samuel O. Dunbar sold some neat inks. Read article.


These two trade cards from Joe Gourd for S. O. Dunbar started a chain reaction making us change the T 35 designation in Bitters Bottles to “L” listings in Bitters Bottles Supplement 2. The bottle image is from GreatAntiqueBottles.com

Trade cards
L 90.5 LIFE BITTERS, Illustration roses and flowers. S.O. Dunbar, Merry Christmas or Happy New Year, Basement Post Office, Reverse: Manufacturer of Fluid Magnesia, Writing, Stencil & Dotting Ink, Swan’s Cherry Syrup, Shepard’s Condition Powders, Life Bitters…Taunton, Mass. See s2L 90.5
L 91.5 L … Tomato, Sarsaparilla, Blackberry, Dandelion and Wild Cherry, Vegetable Compound Life Renovating Bitters
S. O. DUNBAR / TAUNTON / MASS. // c //
7 1/4 x 3 1/4 (4 1/2)
Round, Aqua, LTC, Rough pontil mark S. O. Dunbar, Sole Agent, Bank Row, Taunton, Mass.
S. O. Dunbar (Samuel Oliver Dunbar), apothecary and books, 9 and 10 Bank Row, Taunton. Taunton, Massachusetts, City Directory, 1859
BAR p40, UMB 519, WAT L45 Previously T 35 in Bitters Bottles. See s2L 91.7
L 91.7 LIFE RENOVATING BITTERS, The Cheapest and Best Bitters to be had, Tomato, Sarsaparilla, Blackberry, Dandelion and Wild Cherry, Vegetable Compound Life Renovating Bitters. Prepared and sold by S. O. Dunbar, Taunton, Mass.

S. O. Dunbar advertisement – The Bristol County Directory and Gazetteer, 1867-68


The bottle shown above is one of the 1850 age bottles known from the S. O. Dunbar Company in Taunton. This bottle was thought to have contained ink but this specimen, with the original label shows it to be a medicine. It is likely that he used this container for both ink and medicine. – Bottle Books


“S.O. DUNBAR – TAUNTON – MASS.”, (Faulkner pg. 61), Massachusetts, ca. 1840 – 1840, aqua, 10-sided, 4 1/8”h, open pontil, thin tooled flared out lip. Perfect condition, highly whittled glass, rarely seen size and form. Ex. Bob Mebane Collection #128. – Glass Works Auctions

Select listings

1836: Samuel Oliver Dunbar publishes a Map of the town of Taunton, with a view of the public buildings (see below) – Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library See Map


1855: S.O. Dunbar, Director, Farmers’ Insurance CompanyTaunton, Massachusetts City Directory
1859: Samuel O. Dunbar, Apothecary, 9 and 10 Bank, Taunton, Massachusetts – Taunton, Massachusetts, City Directory, 1859
1867: S. O. Dunbar advertisement (above) – The Bristol County Directory and Gazetteer, 1867-68
1875: S.O. Dunbar & Son, 10 and 11 Bank Row, City square, druggists – The Bristol County Directory and History
1880: S.O. Dunbar, Drugs and Chemicals, Taunton, Bristol, Massachusetts –  United States Federal Census
1893: Dunbar’s Drug Store, drugs, stationery, etc. 51 City sq. cor Lincoln (see advertisement below) – Taunton, Massachusetts City Directory


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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