Cannon’s Bitters Study & Timeline – Washington, D.C.

Cannon’s Bitters Study & Timeline

Washington D.C.

17 May 2019 

Apple-Touch-IconAWith 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:

Broadside
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.


Select Listings:

1840: Early Realty Values – 
Reminiscences of Washington Ante-Bellum Days – 
Some Notable Landmarks
 – Boarding House Life Back in the Forties
 – Traders and Their Wares – 
Old Places Along Pennsylvania Avenue Recalled – 
Remarkable Changes in Localities – By James Croggon, The Evening Star, January 27, 1907 [pt. 1, p. 12]
Missouri Avenue Property
 Before the year 1840 some of the Missouri avenue lots had passed to R.G. Briscoe, P.W. Browning, B.F. Middleton, J.B. Yates, Charles Stott, William Bird, W.T. Duvall, A. Shepherd and Dr. MacWilliams, with others, and on the 3d street front David A. Hall invested. The majority of the property was improved.
In the forties on the avenue and 4-1/2 street were Peetsch’s tavern, Mrs. Holdsworth’s, F. Cudlip’s, Mrs. Reiley’s, Mrs. Potter’s, Mrs. Polkinhorn’s and Mrs. Scott’s boarding houses; F.S. Naylor, tin and sheet iron worker; William Cannon, painter; C. Dunlap and A. Causland, barbers; Lee & Espey, cabinetmakers and undertakers; William H. Faulkner, shirt-maker; J.W. Smith, tailor; M. McDermott, coach-maker; Semmes & Son, grocers; Richard Thompson; N. Adams, second-hand clothing. On 3d street was R. Patterson, blacksmith. On Missouri avenue were Mrs. Lunts’ boarding house at 3d street; R.G. Briscoe, P.W. Browning, H.S. Clarke, W.G. Snithen, W.T. Duvall, Mrs. Jeffers and Mrs. M.E. Morgan’s boarding house. In the fifties B. Shadd located on 3d street and opened a tavern at the corner of the avenue. Mr. Faulkner is remembered for having been the pioneer shirt manufacturer in these parts, having many employes and was among the first to demonstrate the labor-saving advantages of the sewing machine, which was at this period just coming into use. “Thompson Life Preserver,” a patent medicine, made by Mr. Richard Thompson, was the wonderful “cure-all” of the Washington people of that day, and the proprietor was quite successful with it, as the medicine was credited by some with benefit to many complaints. From William Cannon, a neighboring painter, came “Cannon’s Bitters,” which for years was the favorite tonic for many families.
1842: Newspaper notices (below) WM. Morrow erects Apollo Hall. 23 February 1842, (submitted by Chris Rowell)

1851: Newspaper advertisement (below) Cannon’s Celebrated Dyspeptic Bitters, sold in Baltimoe by T.I. Pitt, corner of High and Pratt Streets. – The Baltimore Sun, 24 January 1851 (submitted by Chris Rowell)

1854: Newspaper advertisement (below) Cannon’s Vegetable or Blood Purifying Bitters, Ask for the bottle with the Portrait of the Inventor & Proprietor, and take none other, WM. M. Cannon, Washington, D.C. – Evening Star, Saturday, June 10, 1854

1860: William M Cannon, Master Painter, Age: 46, Birth Year: abt 1814, Birth Place: Virginia, Home in 1860: Washington Ward 3, Washington, District of Columbia, Dwelling Number: 53, Family Number: 57, Household Members: William M Cannon 46, Ann E Cannon 46, Alfred D Cannon 20, Jno D Cannon 17, Thadius Cannon 13, Saml K Piles 23 – 1860 United States Federal Census
1862: William M. Cannon, Manufacturer Cannon’s Bitters, Patent Medicines, Centre Market, Washington, District of Columbia – Washington, District of Columbia, City Directory, 1862
1863: William M. Cannon, Manufacturer Cannon’s Bitters, 298 11th west, Washington, District of Columbia – Washington, District of Columbia, City Directory, 1863
1864: William M. Cannon, Medicines, 11th west n O north, Washington, District of Columbia – Washington, District of Columbia, City Directory, 1864
1865: William M. Cannon, 11th west n O north, Washington, District of Columbia – Washington, District of Columbia, City Directory, 1865
1867: William M. Cannon, 518 8th west, Washington, District of Columbia – Washington, District of Columbia, City Directory, 1867
1868: William M. Cannon, Painter, W Street, Washington, District of Columbia,  – Washington, District of Columbia, City Directory, 1868
1876: Newspaper advertisement (below) Cannon’s Indian Vegetable or Blood Purifying Bitters, Charles Stott & Co., Manufacturers and Proprietors, Washington, D.C. – Quad City Times, Wednesday, February 2, 1876

1886: Newspaper advertisement (below) Cannon’s Indian Vegetable or Blood Purifying Bitters, Stott Cromwell & Co., Manufacturers and Proprietors, 480 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C. – National Republican, Saturday, October 16, 1886

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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