Dr. Henry Baxter’s Mandrake Bitters – Vermont

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.

A labeled Dr. Henry Baxter’s Mandrake Bitters – VT Medicines

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

1886 Henry, Johnson & Lord Household Almanac (front) – Joe Gourd Collection

Henry, Johnson & Lord Household Almanac (back). Dr. Baxter’s Mandrake Bitters referenced – Joe Gourd Collection

Henry, Johnson & Lord Book Mark (front & back). Dr. Henry Baxter’s Mandrake Bitters noted on reverse – Joe Gourd Collection

1898 Henry, Johnson & Lord envelope. Baxter’s Mandrake Bitters noted. – Joe Gourd Collection

Henry, Johnson & Lord selling Dr. Henry Baxter’s Mandrake Bitters billhead – Burlington, Vermont, August 1, 1894

Dr. Henry Baxters Mandrake Bitters booklet – Joe Gourd Collection

Henry, Johnson & Lord Advertising Trade Card (front & back). Dr. Henry Baxter’s Mandrake Bitters noted on reverse – Joe Gourd Collection

Dr. Henry Baxter’s Mandrake Bitters – Meyer Collection

Mandrake

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]

Select Listings:

1821: Henry Baxter born on 15 April 1821 in Norwich, Windsor County, Vermont. Father: Ira Baxter, Mother: Arsena Baxter
1843: Married Adelia Inoly Woodruff (1822-1887) in 1843.
1850: Henry Baxter, 29, Birth Year: abt 1821, Birthplace: Vermont, Home in 1850: Highgate, Franklin, Vermont, Occupation: Doctor, Household Members: Henry Baxter 29, Aela Baxter 28, Frank W Baxter 7, George H Baxter 4, Charles E Baxter 2, Margret Gipson 26, Erastus Satwell 14 – United States Federal Census
1855: Henry, Johnson & Lord commenced business in Waterbury, Vermont in 1855.
1860: Henry Baxter, Age: 39, Birth Year: abt 1821, Birth Place: Vermont, Home in 1860: Highgate, Franklin, Vermont, Occupation: Physician, Real Estate Value: $4,000, Personal Estate Value: $10,000, Household Members: Henry Baxter 39, Adelia G Baxter 38, Frank W Baxter 16 – United States Federal Census
1863: Henry Baxter, Physician, Birth Year: abt 1822, Place of Birth: Vermont, Age on 1 July 1863: 41, Race: White, Residence: Highgate, Vermont, Congressional District: 3rd, Class: 2 – U.S. – Civil War Draft Registrations Records
1870: Henry Baxter, 49, Birth Year: abt 1821, Birthplace: Vermont, Living: Highgate, Franklin, Vermont, Occupation: Physician, Spouse: Adila Baxter, Children: Frank Baxter 29, Marion Baxter 28, Josephine Baxter 1 – United States Federal Census
1873: Earliest advertisement (see below) found for Baxters Mandrake Bitters, The Burlington Free Press, Wednesday, April 9, 1873

1897: Henry Baxter died on 27 September 1897 in Highgate, Franklin County, Vermont, Highgate Falls Episcopal Church Cemetery.

1899: The brand still being sold in 1899 (see below), Burlington Clipper, Saturday, April 15, 1899.

About Ferdinand Meyer V

Ferdinand Meyer V, President, Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors, 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. Ferdinand 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.
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