Cannon’s Bitters Study & Timeline
17 May 2019 (R•101420)
With new material and research on Cannon’s Bitters, it seems like high time to re-look at this incredible brand. I thought I would lay out what I have discovered and see if we can connect the dots on the listings in Bitters Bottle Supplement 2 and now Bitters Bottle Supplement 3. Many of the varieties I have found tie back to Washington, D.C.
Note: CANNON’S BITTERS, A generic term used to abbreviate the many types of Cannon’s Bitters. Example; Just received 3 cases of Cannon’s Bitters when it is most likely Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters they are talking about. Seth S. Hance, 108 Baltimore Street, Baltimore was prominently advertising Cannon’s Bitters from 1867 to 1876.
Embossed Cannon Bottle (C 33)
Here is where we need to clean up the listings as this embossed cannon bottle has always been assumed to be related to the label and bottle wrap C 33.8 below. With the new aqua Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters finds, it seems far more likely that the wrap is for the C 33.3 Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters bottles.
So, for now, the new listing in Bitters Bottles Supplement 3 is as follows:
C 33 Cannon Bitters (Presumed Name)
Embossed Square with Cannons and Cannonballs
10 x 2 7/8 (6 ¼) ½
There is no embossed copy on this bottle. Square with embossed cannons on three faces in opposite horizontal alignment, vertically stacked cannonballs on two opposite corners, vertical cannon ramrod tool on opposite corners, crossed swords on all four top shoulder panels and pyramid fort with the flag above flat area for a label.
Amber, LTC, Applied mouth, Extremely rare
Presumed to be related to Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters but not authenticated. No labeled example exists or advertising to confirm the relationship.
See C 33 in Bitters Bottles, sC 33, s2C 33, s2p51 and s2p290
False Label Study
I couldn’t help but try to label the embossed cannon bottle with the W. M. Cannon & Co., Cannon’s Bitters label. That would be too easy! A true labeled example will turn up one day or another.
Dr. Cannon’s Bitters [C 33.1]
The Dr. Cannon’s Bitters is a new find on 14 September 2020. The new listing in Bitters Bottles Supplement 3.
C 33.1 CANNON’S BITTERS, DR., Try It! Try It! The Greatest Remedy ever Known for the Cure of Dyspepsia and Headache, Price of Cannon’s Bitters 50 cents per bottle, or six for $2.50. A.R. Van Doorn, Tiffin, The Tiffin Tribune (Tiffin, Ohio) August 19, 1859. Advertised locally for one year only.
Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters [C33.2]
American Glass Gallery surprised bitters collectors when they auctioned off an octagonal, aqua, Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters. Their lot description:
“CANNON’S – DYSPEPTIC – BITTERS“, America, 1850 – 1860. Aquamarine, octagonal, applied square collar – blowpipe pontil scar, ht. 6″; (professionally cleaned to original luster; a ½” chip from the edge, and underside, of the square collar). An exciting fresh discovery and previously unknown mold, almost certainly from the W. M. Cannon Medicine Co, Washington, D.C. Believed to be the first intact pontiled example known from this company. Note; the chip is on the side of the lip, and could easily be repaired, if desired.
The new listing in Bitters Bottles Supplement 2:
C 33.3 CANNON’S // DYSPEPTIC // BITTERS // f // f // f // f // f //
6 x 2 (across base) (panels approximately 1 inch wide)
Octagonal, Aqua, FM, Applied mouth, Rough pontil mark, Extremely rare
This is most likely Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters, or Cannon’s Compound Vegetable or Blood Purifying Bitters sold only by T. W. Dyott & Sons, Philadelphia as noted below in The Charleston Mercury (Charleston, South Carolina) December 3, 1850. Wm. M. Cannon in Washington, D.C. may have taken over this brand in 1853 or so as the Dyott ads stop that year and Cannon’s Bitters or Cannon’s Vegetable or Blood-Purifying Bitters, Wm. M. Cannon ads start showing up in Washington, D.C. newspapers. See C 33.3 and and s3C 33.8
Note: There are also Cannon’s Vegetable Bitters (or Cannon’s Bitters) ads that start appearing in Charles Town, West Virginia in 1855, and Alexandria, Virginia in 1858. This is probably Wm. M. Cannon’s bitters noted below.
Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters [C 33.3]
In 2012, five broken examples of an aqua Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters were dug from one pit in the Washington D.C. area and one broken example was dug from a 22-foot deep 1840s brick-lined pit in Northern Virginia. Read: Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters, W. Morrow, Washington D.C. Unlisted Find!
This was an incredible find that merited future investigation. The new listing in Bitters Bottles Supplement 3 is:
C 33.3 CANNON’S / DYSPEPTIC BITTERS // W. MORROW // f // WASHINGTON, D.C. // f //
Rectangular, Aqua, FM, applied mouth, 3 sp, Rough pontil mark, Extremely rare
Five broken examples dug from one pit in the Washington D.C. area, one broken example dug from a 22-foot deep 1840s brick-lined pit in Northern Virginia. See s3C 33.2
Surprisingly, I can not find any listings of a W. Morrow listed in Washington D.C. There are a few hints but nothing definite. I am now thinking that the bottle sides read, “W. Morrow Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters. So the name might be William M. Cannon or William Morrow Cannon.
Cannon’s Indian Vegetable Bitters [C 33.6]
Ephemera collector Ben Swanson possesses the following broadside for Cannon’s Indian Vegetable Bitters. The new listing in Bitters Bottles Supplement 2. It is important to note that it says the bitters have been manufactured since 1842.
C 33.6 CANNON’S INDIAN VEGETABLE BITTERS, Cannon’s Indian Vegetable or Blood-Purifying Bitters, Try Them. For Sale by Druggists Generally. Price only 50 cents per Bottle. Notice – These Bitters are Prepared Only by Charles Stott & Co., Manufacturers, and Proprietors, No. 480 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.
Newspaper advertisement; Cannon’s Indian Vegetable or Blood Purifying Bitters, Charles Stott & Co., Manufacturers and Proprietors, Washington, D.C. (later Stott, Cromwell & Co.) – Quad City Times, Wednesday, February 2, 1876. The successor of Cannon’s Vegetable or Blood Purifying Bitters, Wm. M. Cannon, Washington, D.C. See C33 in Bitters Bottles and s3C 33.2, s3C 33.8
Cannon’s Bitters or Cannon’s Non-Alcoholic Bitters Label or Bottle Wrap [C 33.8]
This packaging piece for Cannon’s Bitters is interesting for a number of reasons. Notice that it does not say Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters but rather Cannon’s Bitters or Cannon’s Non-Alcoholic Bitters. It has been seen by many and assumed to be related to the embossed “cannon” bottle which is doubtful. The example is from the Ben Swanson collection.
[face] Cannon’s Non-Alcoholic Bitters, The Great Dyspepsia Remedy and Blood Purifier, (Portrait) Prepared Only By W. M. Cannon & Co., 925 LA. Ave. N.W. Washington D.C., Price 50 cents.
[left side] Prepared only by W. M. Cannon Proprietary Medicine Company, No. 925 Louisiana Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.
[right side] Cures Dyspepsia, Constipation, Loss of Appetite, Hypochrondria, Headache, Colic and all disorders of the Liver and Stomach
The revised listing in Bitters Bottles Supplement 3 is as follows:
Label or Bottle Wrap
C 33.8 CANNON’S NON-ALCOHOLIC BITTERS, The Great Dyspepsia Remedy, W. M. Cannon & Co., 925 LA. Ave. N.W. Washington D.C. Prepared only by the W. M. Cannon. Price 50 cents.
See s3C 33.2, s3C 33.3 and s3C 33.6
We suspect this piece is for Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters (c 33.3) which is a rectangular bottle.
We also know that William M. Cannon was advertising his Cannon’s Vegetable or Blood Purifying Bitters in 1854. “Ask for the bottle with the Portrait of the Inventor & Proprietor, and take none other, Wm. M. Cannon, Washington, D.C.”