Cannon’s Bitters Study & Timeline
17 May 2019
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.
Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters [C33.3]
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 2 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 22-foot deep 1840s brick lined pit in Northern Virginia
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 Dyspeptic Bitters [C33.5]
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 33.5 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
Cannon’s Bitters Label or Bottle Wrap [C 33]
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. It has been seen by many and assumed to be related to the embossed “cannon” bottle which we will get to shortly. This 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 Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles is as follows:
Label or Bottle Wrap
C 33 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
With almost 100% certaintity, we can say this piece is for the same bitters as the two aqua Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters (C33.3 and C 33.5) noted above.
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.”
Cannon’s Indian Vegetable Bitters
Ephemera collector Ben Swanson possesses the following broadside for Cannon’s Indian Vegetable Bitters. The new listing in Bitters Bottles Supplement 2:
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
Successor of Cannon’s Vegetable or Blood Purifying Bitters, Wm. M. Cannon, Washington, D.C. (See C33 L in BB and s2 C33.5)
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 above. With the new aqua Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters finds, it seems far more likely that the wrap is for the small C33.3 and C 33.5 bottles.
So, for now, the new Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles Supplement 2 is as follows:
C 33.? (Embossed Square with Cannons)
10 x 2 7/8 (6 1/4) 1/2
Square with embossed cannons on three faces in opposite horizontal alignment, vertical stacked cannon balls on two opposite corners, vertical cannon ramrod tool on opposite corners, crossed swords on all four top shoulder panels and pyramid fort with flag above flat area for 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.
False Label Study
I couldn’t help but to 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.