The little Clark’s Giant Bitters


The little Clark’s Giant Bitters

03 May 2015

Apple-Touch-IconAYou know, when I think of a “Giant”, I think of the Jolly Green Giant, Jacks’ Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum Giant, Andre the Giant or some kind of odd-ball circus pictures or Guinness Book of World Records picture that I have seen in the past. You always seem to see a giant pictured with something really small like a dwarf or midget, kind of like some auction houses put a shiny penny next to a bottle. To give it scale or in this case, to exaggerate scale.


Classic Jolly Green Giant green beans advertisement


Jack getting ready to make a grab and bolt to the bean stalk


Andre the Giant in Cannes, 1967


Johaan Aassen, a circus performer from the Al G. Barnes Amusement Co, holding a dwarf in each hand, 1923. –


Robert Wadlow was one of history’s largest humans standing 8′ 11.1″. Born and educated in Alton, Illinois, he was later buried there at age 22, weighing 490 pounds at the time of his passing.

This post was inspired by Bill Ham who recently asked if I had a Giant Bitters? My first thought was the massive, or giant ‘Clarke’s Vegetable Sherry Wine Bitters’ from Sharon, Massachusetts, of which I do have an example. But that was not what he was talking about. He was referring to the Clark’s Giant Bitters from Philadelphia which is kind of puny. Both are pictured below, with what else, a penny. Notice the different spellings of Chark’s vs. Clarke’s. They are not related.

Read: XR Clarke’s Vegitable Sherry Wine Bitters sells on ebay


“Clarke’s / Vegetable / Sherry Wine / Bitters / Sharon, Mass.” Bitters Bottle, America, 1860-1870. Rectangular with wide beveled corners, aquamarine, applied sloping collared mouth – smooth base, ht. 14 inches; (bubble on base edge corner has opening in cover glass). R/H #C-155 An extremely large and impressive bitters bottle with a great whittled texture. – Norman C. Heckler & Company


Clark’s Giant Bitters – Meyer Collection

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


CLARK’S GIANT BITTERS / 2035 STELLA AVE. PHILADA // sp // sp // sp //
L…Clark’s Giant Bitters, Phil., Pa at 2035 Stella Avenue.
6 3/4 x 2 1/2 x 1 1/4 (5) 1/4
Rectangular, Aqua, NSC, Tooled lip, 4 sp, Rare

E. H. Clark & Company

Not much is known about the Clark’s Giant Bitters other than it was made by E. H. Clark & Company at 2035 Stella Avenue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1883 and 1884, Edwin H. Clark and Charles E. Clark were listed as the proprietors making patent medicines at 828 N. 26th Street. Charles was Edwins father. Later it was just Edwin H. Clark from about 1887 until 1897 at the Stella Avenue address. He was apparently a chemist, manufacturer of patent medicines and a doctor who was born in New York about 1855. He put out a family of medicines like Clark’s Morning Dew Perfume, Clark’s Giant Liniment, Clark’s Giant Cough Syrup, Clark’s Giant Tooth Powder and Clark’s Little Giant Granules.


Both variants of the Clark’s Giant Bitters – Frank Wicker Collection

There are actually two variant sizes of the Clark’s Giant Bitters, the second having different embossed copy. Competing with the great figural bitters from Philadelphia, that came a bit earlier, I suspect Edwin H. Clark had a bit of a Napoleon Complex.


Clark’s Giant Preparation trade card – Bitters Bottles Supplement

6 3/4 x 2 1/4 x 1 3/8 (5) 1/4
Rectangular, Aqua, DC, Tooled lip, 3 sp, Rare

Later Edwin H. Clark was involved in politics and the board of education. Things didn’t end so well for Dr. Clark as he committed suicide by cutting his throat while his wife was away in 1913. I wonder what went wrong?


Edwin H. Clark found dead – The Citizen, Tuesday, February 18, 1913

A special thanks to Marianne Dow and Frank Wicker for their assistance with this post.

Select Listings

1880: E. H. Clark, age 25, patent medicines, born about 1855 in New York. Father was C. E. Clark, mother was Arvilla, brother Fred, living in Philadelphia – United States Federal Census
1883-1884: E. H. Clark & Company (Edwin H. and Charles E. Clark), patent medicines, 828 N. 26th – Philadelphia, Pensylvania City Directory
1887-1895: Edwin H. Clark, patent medicines, 2035 Stella – Philadelphia, Pensylvania City Directory
1897: E. H. Clark & Company (Edwin H. Clark), patent medicines, 2035 Stella – Philadelphia, Pensylvania City Directory
1910: E. H. Clark, age 54, manufacturer patent medicines, born about 1856 in New York. Wife Ella V., son Edwin H. (25), also Vincent, John and Francis, living in Philadelphia – United States Federal Census
1913: Edwin H. Clark found dead (see notice above) – The Citizen, Tuesday, February 18, 1913

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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