The Great English Tonic Rothery’s Appetizer and Stomach Bitters


The Great English Tonic

Rothery’s Appetizer and Stomach Bitters

21 August 2016

Apple-Touch-IconAA couple of weeks ago I received a phone message from Adam Koch up in Ohio who said that a shard of an unlisted color for a bitters was found back east. The name on the shard was “The Great English Tonic Rothery’s Appetizer and Stomach Bitters”. Pretty amazing that the shard contained the full name. Doesn’t usually happen that way. I talked with Adam and he was going to get a picture and send me.

A few days passed and then I received an email from Jim Bender in New York saying “I thought you may like to see this bottle Jim Healy dug last week. It is listed as Extremely Rare in amber. As you can see this one was yellow.”

Actually this bottle does exist and an example was auctioned off by Jim Hagenbuch at Glass Works Auctions a few year back. It is pictured further below. There are three different listings in the Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham Bitters Bottles book as follows:

8 x 3 1/4 x 3 (6)
Rectangular, Gold, STCR, Tooled lip, Extremely rare
R 104  ROTHERY ( au ) / THE GREAT ENGLISH TONIC / BITTERS ( ad ) // f // f // f //
8 x 3 1/4 x 3 (6)
Rectangular, Amber, STCR, Tooled lip, 1 sp, Extremely rare
8 x 3 1/4 x 2 3/4 (5 1/2)
Rectangular, Amber, STCR, Tooled lip, 1 sp, Rare
Rothery's Bitters_GWA

“THE GREAT ENGLISH TONIC / ROTHERY’S / APPETIZER / AND STOMACH / BITTERS”, (R-104) should be R 103.5, American, ca. 1880 – 1895, straw yellow, 8”h, smooth base, tooled lip has some neck crazing lines. Rated as extremely rare in amber and not listed in this possibly unique, attractive color! (incorrect) – Glass Works Auctions

Here is an amber example pictured below of a different mold, R 105. Note the typography difference in straight lines with Chicago noted.

Rothery's Amber

R 105: ROTHERY’S BITTERS ( ad ) THE GREAT ENGLISH TONIC / CHICAGO, U.S.A., Rectangular, Amber, Tooled lip and rated Rare.

“ROTHERY’S BITTERS / THE GREAT ENGLISH TONIC / CHICAGO, U.S.A.”, America, probably 1900 – 1910. Golden amber with a slight orange tone, rectangular with rounded corners, tooled square collar with ring – smooth base, ht. 7 7/8″, near mint; (a shallow bubble with a 1/8″ opening in the cover glass, otherwise attic mint). R/H #R105. A very scarce to rare bitters. The proprietor of this unusual Chicago bitters was also a longtime saloon keeper. – American Glass Gallery | Auction #22

These bitters were produced in Chicago around 1905 by Herbert V. Rothery as you can see from the advertisement below. Mr. Rothery was a long-time saloonkeeper and betting room operator who appears in various locales and once served time in a penitentiary in Iowa for switching diamonds in a transaction. He also ran in to problems with various “charity” events where money seemed to be directed to him. He was also involved in ring fighting and other betting sidelines from many articles I read. Later he organized a ball club in Edison Park.


Advertisement for Rothery’s Appetizer and Stomach Bitters – Herb Rothery, 41 LaSalle St., Chicago – Chicago Daily Tribune, Sunday, April 9, 1905


Dubious Rothery “charity” event – Chicago Daily Tribune, Wednesday, October 22, 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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