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)

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 Invigorating 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.


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

T 35  L … Tomato, Sarsaparilla, Blackberry, Dandelion and Wild Cherry, Vegetable Compound Life Invigorating Bitters
S. O. Dunbar / TAUNTON / MASS. // c //
7 1/4 x 3 1/4 (4 1/2)
Round, Aqua, FM, with pour spout, Rough pontil mark
Dunbar was a noted manufacturer on ink which may explain the Bitters label on a pour spout bottle commonly associated with ink.
Taunton Directory (Mass.) 1850

S.O. Dunbar, Taunton, Mass bottle with pontil. This example has no pour spout which makes it a prime candidate for the labeled Tomato, Sarsaparilla, Blackberry, Dandelion and Wild Cherry, Vegetable Compound Life Invigorating Bitters. – GreatAntiqueBottles.com


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 Company – Taunton, Massachusetts City Directory

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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