The Great English Tonic
Rothery’s Appetizer and Stomach Bitters
21 August 2016
A 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:
R 103.5 THE GREAT ENGLISH TONIC / ROTHERY’S ( au ) APPETIZER / AND STOMACH / BITTERS // f // f // f //
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
R 105 ROTHERY’S BITTERS ( ad ) THE GREAT ENGLISH TONIC / CHICAGO, U.S.A. // f // f // f //
8 x 3 1/4 x 2 3/4 (5 1/2)
Rectangular, Amber, STCR, Tooled lip, 1 sp, Rare
Here is an amber example pictured below of a different mold, R 105. Note the typography difference in straight lines with Chicago noted.
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.