With and without the words Monopole Bitters

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With and without the words Monopole Bitters

Herman Toser Co. – Milwaukee & William Frank & Sons – Pittsburgh

24 December 2014 [Christmas Eve]

Monopole Bitters – Herman Toser Milwaukee. This is one of the premier Wisconsin bitters. It is simply embossed on the back “MONOPOLE BITTERS” and “W F & S” (William Frank & Sons Pittsburgh 1860 1875) and has a large iron pontil. It is a product of the Herman Toser Co. of Milwaukee Wisconsin. It is extremely rare with only a couple of known examples. One was found in Wisconsin in the 1960’s and was sold to a national bitters collector outside of Wisconsin. – Wisconsin Antique Advertising Club

Apple-Touch-IconAFrank Wicker with BottlePickers scored himself an early Christmas present when he picked up a en-embossed Monopole Bitters. Great bottle picking! Frank sent me the following e-mail and pictures.

Hi Ferdinand. Have you ever seen one of these? Embossed on base” WM FRANK
& SONS”. It is 11 inches tall with a strange iron pontil. There is iron even on
the lettering. This bottle is listed in Digger Odell’s 2010 Bitters Price Guide on page 65. It is just like the bottle in the Ring & Ham Bitters Bottles book on page 390 except it is not embossed Monopole Bitters. I picked this one up for $8 in an antique store this past Saturday. Pics attached. – Frank

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Unembossed Monopole Bitters – Wicker Collection

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Applied mouth on an unembossed Monopole Bitters – Wicker Collection

The Unembossed Monopole Bitters

Actually I have seen pictures of an unembossed example. Glass Works Auctions had an example in one of their recent auctions. A nice picture is represented below.


“WM. FRANK & SONS” (on base), (M-101L), Franktown Glass Works, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ca. 1870 – 1880, amber globular form, 10 1/2”h, big red iron pontil, applied double collar mouth, about perfect. Extremely rare, identical form as the Monopole Bitters but lacking the embossing. – Glass Works Auctions

Another example, in the form of a spinner can be seen here at the Wisconsin Antique Advertising Club’s fine web site. Monopole Bitters H. Toser Milwaukee, WI Style Bottle


Here is a great example of what a Monopole Bitters bottle looks like minus the embossing from Herman Toser, Milwaukee, WI. This bottle has a huge Iron Pontil and was made by Wm. Frank & Son Glassworks. From The Collection of Jon Steiner. – Wisconsin Antique Advertising Club

The Embossed Monopole Bitters

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

M 121a

11 1/8 x 3 3/4 (7 1/2)
Round globular with pedestal base, Amber, DC, Extremely rare
Oval outlined flattened label area
Ring around neck, 4″ below mouth
Trade Mark No. 9792, dated November, 1882 by Herman Toser Co., Milwaukee
Used since 1872

“In addition to his whiskey brands, Toser also was mixing and merchandising his own brand of bitters, a highly alcoholic potion that also claimed to have medicinal values.  He called it “Monopole Bitters.”

For an absolutely great and informative article by Jack Sullivan, you must read, Herman Toser Provided “Gemuetlichkeit” in Its Truest Form over at Those Pre-Pro Whiskey Men! Jack notes within, “In addition to his whiskey brands, Toser also was mixing and merchandising his own brand of bitters, a highly alcoholic potion that also claimed to have medicinal values. He called it “Monopole Bitters.”


Herman F. Toser is sitting with a friend testing the flavor of sherry drawn from a barrel behind them. They are seated in an establishment called Herman Toser’s Weinstube. – Those Pre-Pro Whiskey Men!

To find a picture of an embossed example of a Monopole Bitters I had to look far and wide as I do not have either an embossed or unembossed example in my collection. I found one gracing the shelves of the late Elvin Moody collection and John Feldmann collection. Read: Elvin Moody Bottle Collection pictures surface!


A Monopole Bitters sitting on the sleeves of the great Elvin Moody collection.


Monopole Bitters in lower left corner – John Feldmann Collection

The Monopole Bitters form reminds me of my partially labeled Brand Brothers Company Stuttgarter Stomach Bitters bottle (pictures below) that is embossed “BRAND BROS. CO // EIGENTHUMER / GESETZLICH GESCHUTZT”. The bottle is 10 1/2 inches tall, round at the base and the body is 3 sided with knobs near the shoulder on the bevel.


Embossed side of a labeled Brand Brothers (B 201) Stuttgarter Stomach Bitter (see label side below) – Meyer Collection

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Labeled Brand Brothers (B 201) Stuttgarter Stomach Bitter (see embossed side above) – Meyer Collection

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 With and without the words Monopole Bitters

  1. Froggy says:

    Moody’s MONOPOLE came from me. I traded it to him for a small green H.P. HERB. The Monopole had a crack in the neck. The Monopole was purchased at the Fox valley Antique show(Chicago area) in mid-70’s for $163.

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