Is there really a Burton’s Bitters?
14 December 2014
I quite innocently posted the above picture on PRG and Facebook earlier in the week and said, “Anybody ever heard of a Burton’s Compound Vegetable Bitters? New to me. Can anyone guess who this legendary bitters collector is? This picture is from a 1966 Mardi Gras masquerade party. I am adding 1960s issues of the ABCA newsletters to the FOHBC web site. So fun looking at these great stories and pictures. The ABCA was the forerunner of the FOHBC.
Obviously Dr. Spiller was playing off his first name. I suppose he could have used Spiller’s Bitters. Well is there really a Burton’s Bitters? Thanks to Marianne Dow of the Findlay Bottle Club for the inspiration for this post. Here below is what we have.
Captain Burton’s Tonic Bitters
Below is a reference to an unlisted Captain Burton’s Tonic Bitters in 1875. The bitters was apparently compounded by a Swedish physician in 1565. Hah, that would certainly be an old one!
Richard took it in his head to make his fortune by producing a Bitter, the secret of which he had learnt in the East; it was to be put in a pretty bottle, and to have his picture on it.
Here is a reference to a Burton’s Bitters being sold at Wilson & Burwell’s Drug Store in Charlotte in July 1879.
Marianne Dow adds this clipping below from the Federal Reporter, Volume 37. Marianne adds, “More likely from South Carolina – The defendant, a merchant of Lancaster, is indicted for carrying on the business of a retail liquor dealer without having paid the special tax. He sold by the bottle a compound known as “Burton’s Bitters,” not having paid the special tax as a retail liquor dealer.
Burton’s Ginger Wine Bitters
Yet another reference to B 274 | Burton’s Ginger Wine Bitters. Only 4 1/8 inches tall. This aqua square has 3 columns on each side. An example was found in a dump in West Point, New York according to Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham in Bitters Bottles. What a GREAT bottle. I wonder where this example is residing?
Burton’s Stomach Bitters
A reference to B 275 | Burton’s Stomach Bitters in the Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham Bitters Bottles. This is a rare square. I have never seen an example. Maybe this is the Wilson & Burwell’s example mentioned further above.
Burton’s Blood Bitters
Here is a reference to an unlisted Burton’s Blood Bitters from H. W. Zay in Des Moines, Iowa.
Burton’s Vegetable Compound Bitters
If you enlarge the picture you see a label and bottle in Burton’s left hand. I suspect this really may have been a Burton’s Vegetable Compound Bitters. Either way, Burt Spiller went to a great deal of trouble to make the costume. Did he mock up the label and bottle after an imaginization or was it real?