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WORMSER BROS' / (indented "bung hole") / SAN FRANCISCO - Here is another example (I sold one some years ago) one of the classic Western (made) bottles - the famous Wormser barrel!  This is the only true Western barrel bitters (or maybe used for liquor also?) bottle (the Turner Brothers barrels are really Eastern items). 

These used to be virtually unobtainable and rarely seen, though due to a couple small caches of them being found some years back (Nevada & Oregon reportedly) there are a few around now...including this excellent example.  (If you are looking for one of these you likely know the stories better than I.) These bottles date from only 1869 according to Wichmann's great "Antique Western Bitters Bottles" book (and the Wilson's 1969 classic) who listed them as valued at "$3000 to $7000" in the various shades of amber (the unique light citron green example was unknown at that time).  Since there were a few more of them around, economics dictated a falling of prices - which happened for a time.  Examples are more rarely seen at auctions today.  A similar colored example - though not as brilliant as my offering here - recently sold on eBay for over $2600! Another similar one at American Bottle Auctions (ABA) went for $2500+ with commission though the supply is still dwarfed by the demand and prices have been ticking up again.  I recently acquired one that I know came from a particular Nevada mining camp, so I'm selling this example even though it is superior in condition and color.  (This offering is actually an ex-ABA auction item from some years ago.)

Anyway, this offered example is 9.5" tall, has an applied, one-part "oil" type lip or finish, smooth shallowly domed base, and is in a very nice yellow color with an amber tone.  Call it light yellow amber if you will; a tad lighter than the average example but not quite as light as the lighter example pictured in Wichmann's book.  The images show the color accurately to my eye.  This example is perfectly mint with no chips, cracks, pings, dings or flea-bites.  It has been professionally cleaned I believe (like most of them) but without any diminishment of the glass surface or beauty; looks like it was never buried.  It has some bubbles in the glass and a vague touch of whittle making it a beautiful example of a classic bottle that every Western bottle collector should have.  $2250


DR. HENLEY'S / WILD GRAPE ROOT / IXL (in an oval) / BITTERS - These large (at least a quart in capacity) Western bitters bottles are quite popular with collectors since they are...large...have great embossing and found in a myriad of colors, though any color besides shades of aqua are very expensive.  A very popular product, these bottles are found all over the West from the mining camps of Utah, Nevada, and Montana to the big cities of the day - San Francisco, Portland, Sacramento.  In my experience visiting scores of the mining camps and ghost towns of the West, it is the rare location where one does NOT find fragments of an IXL - it was that popular. 

This example is just over 12" tall, a relatively rich "San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works" blue-aqua color (where it was made), the usual domed base, and an appropriately crude applied "champagne" style banded finish (click neck and lip image to see such).  This example probably dates from the late 1870s to early 1880s since it fairly crude (stretch marks, bubbles), not air vented, and from a mold that lacks the distinctive curved "R" of the earlier mold(s).  FYI...here is a copy of the original labeling that these bottles had: Henley's IXL Bitters label

This offering is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, dings or repairs - only some light scattered haze inside and some minor scratching, scuffing/wear mostly on the back of the bottle.  It has lots of small seed bubble throughout as well as some decent whittle.  A nice example with a nice deep aqua coloration.  $250


PIPIFAX - This is embossed large and bold on one side of this hard to find Western "bitters" bottle; the other 3 panels are unembossed.  These are somewhat of a mystery bottle but are reportedly only found in the West.  There were a series of distributors in San Francisco according to the two Western bitters bottles books by Bill & Betty Wilson (Wilson & Wilson 1969) and Jeff Wichmann (1999).  According to their research, the product was actually made in Germany and franchised to dealers in the US, being shipped in barrels with the labels supplied by the manufacturer for placing on the bottles.  

It was first distributed in SF by Walter & Schaeffer in 187o with the franchise sold to the James M. Gowey Wholesale Liquor Company in 1873.  In 1876, John Sroufe and Hugh McCrum bought out Gowey and (to quote the Wilson's), "...the first embossed bottles were ordered for the Pipifax brand.  By 1885 the mold wore out and they selected a smaller bottle (like Hostetter's) and it was paper labeled thereafter."  The product was advertized as "The Famous Rosicrucian Elixir" according to the label used by Goewey.  (Note: The label image in the Wilson's book shows the name spelled as Goewey, not the Gowey noted in the text of both books).  It was a "Magenbitter" according to the several labels pictured in the two books which was apparently German for bitters?

In any event, these bottles are fairly rare according to Wichmann and I've seen one now and then through the years indicating some level of scarceness.  This example is about 9.4" tall, about 2.7" wide on each side, and has a somewhat crudely applied "brandy" finish or lip.  The color is pretty well shown in the images - a light to medium yellowish amber.  As the full bottle image shows, it has quite a bit of wavy body crudeness (mold was not air vented) along with dimples in the glass, twist marks on the neck and some scattered bubbles.  The condition is good with no chips, cracks or dings of any kind.  It does have a nice glossy outside surface (as images show) with just a few minor scuffs and very small spots of staining.  The inside has an overall though fairly uniform moderate content haze which could easily be cleaned but isn't too distracting.  Nice example at a decent price.  $150


S. T. / DRAKES / 1860 / PLANTATION / X / BITTERS - This mold variation of the ubiquitous Drake's Bitters has the usual PATENTED / 1862 embossed totally on one (the center)  roof panel on the reverse.  This example is just over 9.75" tall, applied "oil" type finish or lip (aka "long tapered collar), smooth slightly domed base (no embossing), and dates from the heyday of the 6-log Plantations - 1865 to the late 1870s.  The glass is a very pleasing medium golden amber.  It is essentially mint with no chips, cracks, or other post-production damage...looks to have never been buried given the base wear.  It has no real staining except a small faint splotch on the front label panel which may have been induced by the original labeling?  There is some original contents dried up in the base so I don't think it is a dug bottle.  This is a comparatively "neatly" made Drake's though has some body crudeness and bubbles.  The embossing is about average with some minor weakness at the top (S.T.) and more distinct as one moves down to the X and BITTERS.  See the close-up image enlargement.  Still a solid, beautiful, and essentially mint example.  $145


HARTWIG KANTOROWIGZ  (arched) / POSEN / HAM: / BURG / GERM: / MANY - All the preceding is embossed on the front of this "case" type bottle that originally held "Litthauer Stomach Bitters." (Bottle to the far left.) Although German made, the product was widely imported into the U. S. and the bottles pretty commonly found throughout North America.  The embossing details vary a lot on the different mold variations; this and all of these variations are cataloged in Ring & Ham as L106L - for labeled bitters. (There are also examples that are embossed with LITTHAUER STOMACH BITTERS.)  The style emulated the "case gins" of the era (mid to late 19th century...into the very early 20th) but are of a heavy, thick glass...and of course, usually (though not always) made of milk glass. 

This example is 9+" tall, has an applied one-part "flaring at the base" lip (typical but distinct style) and a sharply a domed center to the base.  The condition is essentially mint with no chips, cracks or other post-production damage though it could have some light scuff marks or scratches which are about impossible to see on this type milk glass.  A nice example of a cool bottle that every collector should have in their collection.  $65


HARTWIG KANTOROWIGZ (arched) / POSEN / GERMANY - That is embossed on the front side of this small - sample version - of the larger bottle; no embossing on the reverse.  It also originally held a small quantity of "Litthauer Stomach Bitters."  These are actually pretty rare though when I was a teenager I found one of these digging in the older sections of Portland, Oregon.  That one is long gone, but here is one I acquired later as a replacement...but decided to sell it instead since I had already listed its big brother above.  For those keeping score, this is more or less listed in Ring & Ham as L107L, although I guess it isn't really listed as the one they have has slightly different embossing - no GERMANY but does have POSEN and PARIS - though it is the same size as L107L.  (It is also not listed in their Supplement book.)

This bottle is about 3.75" tall and probably only holds an ounce or ounce and a half - like an "airline" liquor bottle today.  It has a tooled sloping collar with the body almost square (slightly rectangular) with a tapering body downwards from the shoulder to the base.  As with the full sized examples, the base also has a round indentation in the middle.  It likely dates from around 1900 give or take.  This example is essentially mint with no condition issues (no chips or cracks) except a bit of dullness to the outside surface though that is hard to tell since it is all white anyway.  Nice example for the collector of milk glass, or sample bitters, or miniature bottles.  $95

...or get both the Hartwig Kantorowigz bottles above for $150.


H. KLAS OREGON - PEACH BITTERS - Offered here is one of the great rarities among Oregon bottles.  It is only one of two known embossed, mouth-blown bitters bottles from the State of Oregon.  (This is not counting the Henley's IXL Bitters which was really a California product with Henley first having roots in Portland, OR.  Also the Oregon Grape Root Bitters was a San Francisco product and not made in Oregon.)  Top of that small heap is the uber rare (one known!) square DR. G.W. BROWN - OREGON / CHITTUM BITTERS rated as the 8th most important (0f 25) 19th century Western bottles by a group of well known Western collectors and published in the 2016 FOHBC National Bottle Show held in Sacramento, CA.  Chittum is a shrub to small tree found along the cooler and wetter portions of the West Coast from northern California up well into British Columbia and as far east as western Montana.  It - Frangula purshiana - is also known as Cascara or Chittum by NW Native Americans who used it for its medicinal qualities.  No city is embossed on the bottle but the only known specimen was found in Portland, Oregon and Dr. George W. Brown has been documented as living there from the early 1860s until 1874 when he died.  The product was trade mark registered in 1871 and the formula patented in 1873.  Sorry...I just love the history of 19th century Western bottles as you'll see below...

The only other embossed Oregon Bitters is this bottle which is embossed around the shoulder with H. KLAS'S  OREGON / PEACH BITTERS.  I first I heard about this bitters in Bill & Betty Wilson's 1969 book "Western Bitters" where it was listed with some history but no image of the bottle strangely enough.  That made it quite mysterious to me as well as never having run across anyone who had an example.  The Wilson's also listed it as being "clear" glass (it is aqua) and the name embossed Henry Klas, not H. Klas like this example; likely just the information they had acquired from someone who had not seen one either.  They did include an ad for the product - taken from either a newspaper or business directory - that you can see at this link:  Oregon Peach Bitters ad.   The Wilson's also noted that it was first made and bottled in label only bottles for "...many years before the embossed bottle was made.  Evidently only one order was made from the glass works, otherwise even if it was a poor seller, more specimens than are known should have been found."  They did not note how many specimens they knew about so it seems to just be a hearsay type listing with a bit of history.  The Wilson's did note that the bottle was "made circa 1893." The bottle IS listed and illustrated in Ring & Ham's 1998 updated "Bitters Bottles" book.  They noted it as "extremely rare" and that the name was trademarked in November 1886.  It is not mentioned at all in Jeff Wichmann's excellent 1999 book "Antique Western Bitters Bottles" which seems strange also.

Back in the mid to late 1970s I was doing some bottle related research in old Portland business directories at the Oregon Historical Society in downtown Portland.  I was helping the late  John Thomas do research on liquor companies in Portland and Oregon in general since I lived in the area at the time.  Information that was eventually incorporated into his 1998 book on Oregon whiskey and liquor containers.  While going through the Portland business directories I found the same ad that was listed in the Wilson's book and linked above.  It was in an 1889 directory which also listed Henry Klas at a living/business address of 24 F street (now NW Flanders).  In 1890 and 1891 he was listed as Hilarius Klas at that same address with the same ad but under the category of "medicine manufacturers" and noted he was specifically a "bitters manufacturer."  (So I suspect he was named by his parents as Hilarius, but went by Henry? I would.)  There were no listings prior to 1889 nor any after after 1891.  I think that well brackets the era of this maker of bitters as having been made sometime between late 1886 (trademark registration) and 1891 after which he disappears from the directories.  Even though he lived in Portland his product ads note Aumsville as the location.  Apparently that is where the peaches came from for his bitters which the ad notes was the only "reliable blood purifier."  Not sure what it would do for the blood but would be great for the bowels in quantity...ha.  So this bottle was certainly made between 1886 to 1891, though may have been label only during those early years making it more an 1890 or so bottle if the "one order from the glass works" (as the Wilson's noted) is correct...and it probably is.

As to the bottle itself, it is 11" tall, probably a "sixth" in size, has a tooled "brandy" lip or finish, and was blown in a cup base mold.  The base has 4 evenly spaced (4 points of the compass spaced) air venting marks around the outside base edge but none on the body which fits well with the era this bottle was made which was the early years of mold air venting.  Click base view to see such.  The embossing is sharp and bold, the glass a nice blue aqua that indicates probable manufacture at the SF&PGW in San Francisco.  Click the following two links to see close-ups of the shoulder embossing:  H. KLAS'S OREGON side and PEACH BITTERS side.  This bottle is essentially perfectly mint with no staining, chips, cracks, dings or other post production flaws.  It has a few bubbles in the glass and a bit of crudity to the tooled lip.  Click close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish to see such.  It's doesn't have the visual impact and panache of a Dr. Wonser's USA Indian Root Bitters but is way rarer!  If you want a complete collection of all the Oregon embossed bitters bottles - excluding the Chittum Bitters which is untouchable - then here it is.   $450



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