Could this bottle be for Tobias’s Wine Bitters?

Could this bottle be for the Celebrated Tobias’s Wine Bitters?

11 February 2019

Robert Biro posted over on the Peachridge Glass Facebook page, a series of images for a dug Tobias & Son ladies leg cylinder with a killer iron pontil. The bottle also has a Philadelphia embossing on the base. I believe this bottle held the Celebrated Tobias’s Wine Bitters though that name is not embossed on the bottle. Roberts email consisted of the following text and bottle images:

1850s… TOBIAS & SON PHILADAS. – This two-part mold ladies leg bitters type of bottle was dug from a 1850s trash pit from downtown Savannah Ga. The bottle has an iron pontil mark and also has applied string glass around the top that is sheared off at the lip. This bottle is nine and a half inches tall and two and three-quarters inches wide. There is a photo of another bottle like this that sold at Glass Works Auctions not too long ago that has a different type of top. – Robert


Looking in the Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham Bitters Bottles book, there is a  listing for the following:

T33  Tobias Wine Bitters
S. Tobias, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia Directory, 1845

S. Tobias & Son

Solomon Tobias was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1790. We know that he was still in Charleston in 1818 as there is “a petition of young Solomon Tobias, Charleston, for an appointment in the army, July 4, 1818.” Later Tobias advertising states that he established his wine and liquor business in 1821, presumably in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where the Tobias wholesale wine and liquor business was carried on for many decades.

We first see a hard address and reference of S. Tobias as a Manufactory of Wine Bitters located No. 93 North Fifth Street in Philadelphia in 1837. He also took out newspaper notices the same year cautioning ‘Tavern Keepers in the Country’ to be wary of spurious Wine Bitters that were being sold as his product. He stated that he continued to label all of his barrels, kegs, demijohns, and bottles with his written signature, S. Tobias. He was probably using an unembossed pontiled cylinder bottle at this time for the bitters.

In other 1837 advertising (below), Tobias was selling Stoughton Bitters, Lavender Bitters, Tansey Bitters, Brandy, Wines, Liquors and Syrups along with his signature Tobias’s Wine Bitters. He would heavily advertise his Wine Bitters up until 1850 or so.

The Library Company of Philadelphia holds this super fine print of the S. Tobias storefront that was created by William H. Rease, artist and printed by Wagner & McGuigan lithography press in Philadelphia in 1845. The image shows the four-story storefront adorned with signage on the 100 block of North Third Street. Note the prominent sign for “Manufactory of the Celebrated S. Tobias Wine Bitters.”

Looking at the art above, you can play “I Spy” and see a patron entering one of the two open entryways at which a straw basket and wine cask are displayed across from a large-cask shaped sign which reads “S. Tobias No. 68 Importer & Dealer in Wines Liquors Cordials and Syrups.” At the other entryway, a laborer rolls a cask out the door near a worker entering the cellar. Within the store, the backs of a patron and a clerk are visible in the rear of the store in which shelves of liquor bottles, straw baskets, wine casks, and barrels are displayed on shelves, the floor, and the open display window. Other boxes, bottles, casks, and barrels are visible at the upper floor windows. Barrels and boxes, one marked “S. Tobias” line the sidewalk, near a street lamp in front of the store.

The print also shows partial views of the adjacent businesses and the signage adorning the storefronts of Charles M. Schott, dry goods (66 N. 3rd St.) and Scattergood & Whitall, druggists’ glassware (70 N. 3rd St.). A clerk is visible working at a table through the doorway of Schott, and a pulley and boxes are visible within the open doorway of Scattergood & Whitall.

Tobias became a tenant within the No. 68 North Third Street building starting in 1845 and renamed his business S. Tobias & Son in January 1847. This would have been the earliest date for Robert Biro’s bottle as the base is embossed ‘S. Tobias & Son.’ Advertising would continue through 1849 or so for the bitters.

There is also this fine full-page advertisement below in the 1848 Philadelphia Wholesale Business Directory for S. Tobias & Son showing the full front of their new store at No. 68 North Third Street, above the Arch. They are noted as Importers and General Dealers in Wines, Liquors, Cordials and Syrups and also Manufacturers of the Celebrated S. Tobias’s Wine Bitters, Wild Cherry, &c. On the ad, the S. Tobias stands for Solomon Tobias. His son was Joseph F. Tobias. They offered a wide range of liquors, wines, cordials and syrups of a very superior quality and said that Country Merchants will do well to call and examine their stock and will offer a liberal discount to those who purchase and agree to sell again.

Here is an 1849 advertisement where S. Tobias & Son were selling S. Tobias’s Wine Bitters to the western gold rush market.

In 1860 or so, the liquor business was renamed Joseph F. Tobias & Company. Joseph F. Tobias and James Carstairs Jr. were partners and importers of wines, brandies etc. located at 206 and 208 S. Front in Philadelphia. Solomon Tobias was listed as living at home so he must have retired. He would pass on in 1868.

The full-page advertisement below from the 1878 Philadelphia City Directory is for Joseph F. Tobias & Co. Wine and Spirits Merchants, No. 241 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. They were noted as direct importers of wines, brandies, Holland gins and dealers in fine old Monongahela, rye, wheat and bourbon whiskies. They were also the Sole Agents in the United States for Giesler & Co’s, Blue Seal, Blue Seal Special Dry and Dry Verzenay Champagne Wines. It says he was established in 1821 which means when his father Solomon Tobias started the business. Joseph was born five years later. Note that there is no listing for a bitters product.

Here below is a section of a panoramic view of Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. You can see the Joseph. F. Tobias storefront. Again, no special bitters sign. Jos. F. Tobias & Co. would continue in business until 1893 or so at the 241 Chestnut address though at some point he moved next door to 237 Chestnut and took on new associates, Mahlon Hutchinson and Edward P. Vogele. Joseph would die in 1902. He spent his final years living at the Aldine Hotel.

So, is this bottle for the Celebrated Tobias’s Wine Bitters? Probably so. We will not know for sure until a labeled example shows up.

Select Listings:

1790: Solomon Tobias, Birth Date: 1790, Birth Place: Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina –  U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current
1818: Reference: The Papers of John C. Calhoun (Columbia, S.C., 1963) for a petition of young Solomon Tobias, Charleston, for an appointment in the army, July 4, 1818 United States Jewry, 1776-1985, Volume 1
1821: Tobias & Co. established (1878 advertisements, see post)
1836: Joseph F. Tobias, Distiller (?), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – The Philadelphia Saving Fund Society
1837: Newspaper advertisement (below) – S. Tobias’s Manufactory of Wine Bitters – Public Ledger (Philadelphia), Monday, April 10, 1837

1837: Newspaper Notice (below) – Caution to Tavern Keepers in the Country against spurious of Wine Bitters. Continue to label all barrels, kegs, demijohns, and bottles with my written signature, S. Tobias. 93 North Fifth Street – Public Ledger (Philadelphia), Tuesday, June 27, 1837

1840: Solomon Tobias, Cordial Distiller, 66 N 3rd, Philadelphia – Philadelphia Directory, A. M’Elroy, 1840
1846: Newspaper Advertisement (below) S. Tobias, No. 68 North Third Street. Manufacturer of Tobias Wine Bitters, Wild Cherry, &c. – Public Ledger (Philadelphia), Friday, April 24, 1846

1846: Newspaper Advertisement (below) Caution to Hotel and Storekeepers: S. Tobias posting warning about bogus Wine Bitters. States that all Wine Bitters and Wild Cherry produced by him have is label, with his signature on the barrel, demijohn and bottle. States that he has only one store at No 68 North Third Street. – Public Ledger (Philadelphia), Wednesday, September 16, 1846

1847: Newspaper notice (below) S. Tobias now associated with son, Joseph F. Tobias in the Wine and Liquor Business. Now S. Tobias & Son, No 68 North Third Street. Ad starts on January 1st 1847 – Public Ledger, Thursday, January 7, 1847

1847: Newspaper Advertisement (below) Caution to Hotel and Storekeepers: S. Tobias & Son posting warning about bogus Wine Bitters – Public Ledger, Thursday, April 22, 1847

1848: Advertisement (below) S. Tobias & Son, Importers and General Dealers in Wines, Liquors, Cordials and Syrups: also Manufacturers of S. Tobias’s Wine Bitters, Wild Cherry, Brandy, &c &c, No. 68 North Third Street, above Arch, Philadelphia, Solomon Tobias, Joseph F. Tobias – The Coal Regions of Pennsylvania, E.N. Carvalho & Company, 1848

1849: Newspaper advertisement (below) Adventures to California. S. Tobias & Son selling S. Tobias’s Wine Bitters to the western gold rush market.- Public Ledger, Friday, January 26, 1849

1849: Newspaper advertisement (below) S. Tobias & Son, No. 68 Third Street,Philadelphia. Note under Cordials they are selling Wine Bitters, Tansey Bitters, Lavender Bitters and Peppermint Bitters. – Lewistown Gazette, Saturday, May 5, 1849

1850: Solomon Tobias, Merchant, Age: 65, Birth Year: abt 1785, Birthplace: South Carolina, Home in 1850: Philadelphia Dock Ward, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Family Number: 607, Household Members: Solomon Tobias 65, Margaret Tobias 45, George Tobias 12, Augustus Tobias 10, Edward Tobias 8, Ella Tobias 6 – 1850 United States Federal Census
1850: Joseph F. Tobias, Marriage, 10 Jan 1850, West Whiteland, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Church of the Atonement, Spouse: Mary Ann Jenneff – Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013
1860: Sol Tobias, Wine Dealer, Age: 68, Birth Year: abt 1792, Birth Place: South Carolina, Home in 1860: Philadelphia Ward 10 East District, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Post Office: Philadelphia, Dwelling Number: 896, Family Number: 988, Household Members: Sol Tobias 68, Margt Tobias 55, Amanda Tobias 21, Augustus Tobias 19, Edwd Tobias 17, Ella Tobias 14 – 1860 United States Federal Census
1860: Joseph Tobias, Carpenter, Age: 34, Birth Year: abt 1826, Birth Place: Pennsylvania, Home in 1860: Philadelphia Ward 10, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Post Office: Philadelphia, Dwelling Number: 1303, Family Number: 1394, Real Estate Value: 10,000, Personal Estate Value: 10,000, Household Members: Joseph Tobias 34, Mary A Tobias 30, J S Tobias 10, Katty Tobias 7 – 1860 United States Federal Census
1860-1863: Joseph F. Tobias & Co., (Joseph F. Tobias & Jas. Carstairs Jr.), importers of wines, brandies etc., 206 and 208 S. Front, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Solomon Tobias listed living at home) – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1864
1860: The Carstairs were a large family and all seemed to be in the liquor business. It seems that James Carstairs Jr was the original member of this company. In 1860 he is shown in partnership with Joseph F. Tobias and George W Wood, (clerk) in Jos. F Tobias & Co., another liquor dealer. –
1864: Joseph F. Tobias & Co., (Joseph F. Tobias), wholesale liquor merchants, 206 and 208 S. Front, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1864
1867-1868: Joseph F. Tobias, liquors, 206 S. Front, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Solomon Tobias listed living at home) – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1868
1868: Solomon Tobias, Death Date: 27 Jan 1868, Death Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, Cemetery: Forest Hills Memorial Park, Burial or Cremation Place: Huntingdon Valley, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania –  U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current
1868: Legal notice: Estate of Solomon Tobias, deceased – Intelligencer, Volume 25, 1868
1870: Joseph F. Tobias, (Office Fronts Walnut),  Age in 1870: 43, Birth Year: abt 1827, Dwelling Number: 1703, Home in 1870: Philadelphia Ward 8 Dist 23 (2nd Enum), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Inferred Spouse: Mary Ann Tobias, Inferred Children: Kate Tobias, Household Members: Joseph F Tobias 43, Mary Ann Tobias 40, Kate Tobias 18, J serieffe (hard to read) Tobias 20 – 1870 United States Federal Census
1874-1875: Joseph F. Tobias & Co. (Joseph F. Tobias), Liquors, 206 S. Front, Philadelphia – Philadelphia Trade Directory, 1874
1878: Philadelphia Directory Full Page Ad (above in post): Joseph F. Tobias & Co. Wine and Spirits Merchants, No. 241 Chestnut Street – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1878
1880: Joseph F. Tobias, Liquor Merchant, Age: 53, Birth Date: Abt 1827, Birthplace: Pennsylvania, Home in 1880: Philadelphia,Pennsylvania, Street: North Side of Locust Street, House Number: 1705, Dwelling Number: 90, Marital status: Married, Spouse’s name: Mary Anna Tobias, Father’s Birthplace: South Carolina, Mother’s Birthplace: Spain, Household Members: Joseph F. Tobias 53, Mary Anna Tobias 51 – 1880 United States Federal Census
1882: Advertisement (below) Joseph F. Tobias and Co., 241 Chestnut, Wine and Spirit, Merchants – Official Programme of the Bi-Centennial Celebration of the Founding of Pennsylvania

1889: Advertisement (below) Joseph F. Tobias & Co., Wine and Spirits Merchants, 237 Chestnut Street – Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, Volume 2, By American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia

1889-1891: Joseph F. Tobias & Co. (Joseph F. Tobias, Joseph Tiers & Mahlon Hutchinson), liquors, 237 Chestnut, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1889
1893: Joseph F. Tobias & Co. (Joseph F. Tobias, Mahlon Hutchinson & Edward P. Vogele), wines, 237 Chestnut, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1893
1897: Joseph F. Tobias residing at Aldine Hotel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1897
1902: Joseph F. Tobias, Birth Date: abt 1822, Birth Place: Phila, Death Date: 12 Nov 1902, Death Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Age at Death: 80, Burial Date: 16 Nov 1902, Burial Place: Laurel Hill, Street address: Haddonfield, N J – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Death Certificates Index, 1803-1915

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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