Dr. Henry Baxter’s Mandrake Bitters – Vermont
27 March 2018
I’ve had a Dr. Baxter’s Mandrake Bitters tucked away in my collection for many years. The bottle is from Burlington, Vermont and is kind of cool because it has 12 sides! It is pretty common though so it doesn’t get much attention. I like it anyway and it remains a favorite.
I thought I would do a post because a framed advertising piece closed on McMurray Antiques & Auctions this past Sunday. It is pictured at the top of this post. Terry McMurray’s lot write-up is below:
DR. HENRY BAXTER’S MANDRAKE BITTERS CURES DYSPEPSIA, CONSTIPATION, SICK HEADACHE. ONLY 25 CENTS. LIQUID OR TABLETS. 21” X 25” PAPER SIGN IN EX. CONDITION IN A NICE PERIOD OAK FRAME. NICE IMAGE OF YOUNG GIRL HOLDING FLOWER AT CENTER. A RARE AND ATTRACTIVE PATENT MEDICINE SIGN I’VE NOT SEEN BEFORE AND READY TO HANG ON THE WALL. ALSO PICTURED ON THE FRONT COVER OF THIS CATALOG. (600-1,000)
Advertisement above from the Joe Gourd Collection
Dr. Henry Baxter was born in Norwich, Vermont in 1821 and settled in Highgate Falls, Vermont in 1842. He was primarily a physician though he owned and managed several businesses in Highgate including furniture, drug and grocery stores and H. W. Baxter & Co. undertakers. His patented medicine, Dr. Baxter’s Mandrake Bitters, was sold throughout Vermont in the late 19th century and as the advertising states, cured constipation, dyspepsia and sick headaches. It was sold for 25 cents in a liquid and pill form. It is thought that mandrake contains deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids so that’s a blast. The brand was represented by Henry, Johnson & Lord in Burlington, Vermont. Henry Baxter died on 27 September 1897 in Highgate, Franklin County, Vermont.
The Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles is as follows:
B 36 DR. BAXTER’S MANDRAKE BITTERS
DR. BAXTER’S // MANDRAKE BITTERS // LORD BROS // PROPRIETORS // BURLINGTON, VT. // f // f // f // f // f // f // f //
L…Dr. Henry Baxter’s Anti-Bilious and Jaundice Compound Mandrake Bitters
6 3/4 x 2 1/4 (5) 6 1/4 x 2 1/4 (5)
12-sided, DC, Green-Extremely rare; Amber-Rare; Clear-Scarce; Aqua-Common
Label: Henry, Johnson & Lord, Proprietors, Burlington, VT., Successors to Dr. Henry Baxter.
Note: Lettering varies in height and width. Found with and without apostrophe in Baxter’s and in Bro’s.
The bottle is pretty much the same form or very similar to a Dr. Carey’s Original Mandrake Bitters and Barber’s Indian Vegetable Jaundice Bitters from Rhode Island. You are also reminded of the family of Atwood’s Bitters.
Dr. Henry Baxter
Dr. Henry Baxter (1821-1897) settled in Highgate Falls, Vermont, in 1842. He owned and managed several businesses in Highgate including furniture, drug and grocery stores and H. W. Baxter & Co. undertakers. His patented medicine, Dr. Baxter’s Mandrake Bitters, was sold throughout Vermont in the late 19th century.
He purchased the land and structure(s) known as the Manor House in the 1860s. The Manor House (also known as The Highgate Manor and Manor Mayfair) was used as a hotel, restaurant, B & B and had an interesting history, which included that of a haunted inn.
Dr. Henry Baxter married Adelia Inoly Woodruff (1822-1887) in 1843. Their son, Frank Woodruff Baxter (1843-1897), married Marion Barney in 1866. Children born to Frank and Marion Baxter were Harry Wallace Baxter (1878-1945), who married Alice Cary Brown in Swanton, Vermont, on 26 June 1902, and Harriet Marion Baxter, who married Dr. Henry Clay Ide of St. Johnsbury, Vermont.
Children of Harry W. Baxter and Alice Cary Brown were George Henry Baxter (b. 1894), Charles Oliver Baxter (b. 1906), Dorothy Alice Baxter (b. 1909), and Ida Elizabeth Baxter (b. 1914). Children of Dr. Henry C. Ide and Harriet Marion Baxter were Paul A. Ide and Robert E. Ide.
Charles Oliver Baxter, great-grandson of Dr. Henry Baxter operated the Boucher Clothing Store in Swanton for many years. The collection includes memorabilia, photos and letters to and from Charles Baxter during World War II. He never married. – Baxter Family of Swanton & Highgate Falls, Vt., Papers, 1821 – 1983
Henry Johnson & Lord
Henry, Johnson & Lord commenced business in Waterbury, Vermont in 1855. Lord Brothers were successors to the old house of Henry & Co. They pushed the wholesale drug trade so hard; they soon supplied the whole trade of Vermont, northern NY and NH with their goods. The company specialties included N.H. Downs Elixir, Arnica and Oil Liniment and many other extracts and essences. [VT Medicines]
Read: Johnson’s Calisaya Bitters – Burlington, Vermont
A mandrake is the root of a plant, historically derived either from plants of the genus Mandragora found in the Mediterranean region. The plants from which the root is obtained are also called “mandrakes”. Mediterranean mandrakes are perennial herbaceous plants with ovate leaves arranged in a rosette, a thick upright root, often branched, and bell-shaped flowers followed by yellow or orange berries. They are very variable perennial herbaceous plants with long thick roots (often branched) and almost no stem. The leaves are borne in a basal rosette, and are very variable in size and shape. They are usually either elliptical in shape or wider towards the end (obovate), with varying degrees of hairiness.
Because mandrakes contain deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids and the shape of their roots often resembles human figures, they have been associated with a variety of superstitious practices throughout history. They have long been used in magic rituals, today also in contemporary pagantraditions such as Wicca and Odinism. [Wikipedia]