antiquebottles THEMEDICINE CHEST --- BY DR. RICHARD CANNON old bottles


The bitters books by Carlyn Ring, Richard Watson, EdBartholomew and Art and Jewel Umberger are very helpful, butstill fail to answer many questions about these magnificent oldbottles. As in all areas of our hobby, much remains to be learnedabout bitters. In 1991, Eric McGuire, of Petaluma, California,did us a great favor by publishing Bottled Products And TheU.S. Patent Office. Information that has not been readilyavailable, a total of 13,777 nineteenth century registrations, islisted and cross referenced in three volumes totaling 1965 pageson 22 microfiche sheets. Not only medicines, but beverages, foodsand other household and commercial items are included. I want tosupply data from McGuire and the bitters books about threebitters in my collection, Ramsey's Trinidad, Caroni, and OldHickory Celebrated Stomach.

Ramsey's Trinidad Bitters,

dark olive.

Ramsey's Trinidad Aromatic Bitters


Caroni Bitters,

dark olive.

My 83/8 inches tall, dark olive,round bottle embossed Ramsey's Trinidad Bitters around theshoulder and the base, was dug in New Orleans. The amber, 81/4inches tall variants are common according to Ring. There is alsoan 81/4 inch amber variant with the "R"missing from Bitters on the base, a 4 inches tall, amber variant,and a clear, 23/4 inches tall shot glass, withRamsey's Trinidad Aromatic Bitters on the base. Green, dark greenand dark olive variants are listed as well. Watson pictures adark olive bottle like mine with the mouth broken off in BittersBottles. Only from McGuire do we learn that Durant andCompany, a firm in Trinidad, British West Indies, began to putout this brand in May, 1887, and registered the trademark on May8, 1888. The essential features of the trademark consisted of abox or packing case with two labeled bottles standing uprightupon the cover, the words “Ramsey's Trinidad AromaticBitters” on the side of the box, and the signature of PeterArthur Ramsey, who must have been the fellow who concocted theformula originally. From McGuire we also learn the origin ofCaroni Bitters. The Von Glahn Brothers of New York, N.Y., beganproduction of this brand in 1891. Their trademark is notpictured, however. My 83/8 inches tall, dark olive,round bottle embossed Caroni Bitters around the shoulder andbase, was dug on Galveston Island. Several were turned up in thiscolor by the couple who dug this bottle. Green and amber 81/4and 81/2 inch tall bottles appear to be plentiful and5-inch tall examples in greens and ambers are also known. Somelarger bottles have only Caroni on the shoulder, but CaroniBitters on the base.

I've heard of bitters bottles shaped likeRamseys and Caronis referred to as bar bitters, apparentlybecause customers who weren't feeling so good might ask forsomething to help their irritated inside at the same place wherethe irritation occurred.

Old Hickory Bitters. Old Hickory Bitters Trademark.

The Old Hickory / Celebrated / Stomach Bitters// // J. Grossman / New Orleans, La. // //, amber, square, 9inches tall bottle I own was also dug on Galveston Island. Thereis an 83/4 inch variant that has J. Grossman's Sons /New Orleans, La. Embossed, and 41/2 inch variantembossed as my bottle. McGuire tells us that Joseph Grossmanfirst put out this product in 1882, and registered the trademarkon May 2, 1893. The essential feature of the trademark was thewords “Old Hickory”, but on one label (the labels arealso given by McGuire) the words “Old Hickory CelebratedStomach Bitters” were printed above the famous New Orleansstatue of Andrew Jackson on a horse, and below the stature theobverse sides of two metals, and at the bottom, “J.Grossman, Sole Proprietor and Manufacturer, New Orleans, La.Directions on the other side.” On the other label there's aportrait of Grossman with “Celebrated, Old Hickory”above and “Stomach Bitters” below. At the bottom is thesignature of J. Grossman.

Other bitters trademark registrations inMcGuire's work include Colombo, 1896, Electric, 1880, Dr.Harter's, 1887, H. Kantorowicz, 1890, Lash's, 1891, and Flint'sQuaker, 1872. Sarsaparillas, cures, and other medicines are alsogiven, and numerous additional medicine registrant and productdates are included as well. A real “gold mine” if yousearch for the history of your old bottles like I do. Thanks,Eric!

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