The little Clark’s Giant Bitters
03 May 2015
You 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.
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.
The Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles Supplement is as follows:
C 166.3 CLARK’S GIANT BITTERS
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.
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.
C 166.2 CLARK’S GIANT BITTERS
// f // E. H. CLARK & CO. // CLARK’S GIANT / BITTERS / PHILADA PA. // 2035 STELLA AVE.
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?
A special thanks to Marianne Dow and Frank Wicker for their assistance with this post.