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DR. KURNITZKI'S / AROMATIC / WIRE GRASS TONIC - Is that a great name or what!? These are quite rare bottles of which I've seen maybe 6 or 7 of; here is an extra one I've come into possession of recently. Dr. Kurnitzki was a doctor (or at least used the doctor's title) who produced several different patent medicines - including a Wire Grass Kidney & Liver Medicine - in the southern city of Charleston, South Carolina (the K&L medicine notes the city; the tonic bottle does not have the city embossed). This bottle is a light to medium amber in color, has a very crudely applied "oil" finish or lip ("globby-ness" completely - 360˚ - around the base of the finish), smooth indented base, and is 9.5" tall; these bottle date from between 1875 and maybe 1885 based on manufacturing features. This example has been professionally cleaned as most non-stained examples have been. These bottles are of a glass type that apparently stains easily and/or are all found in areas (SC) that are prone to staining glass with highly basic or alkaline soils? With the cleaning - which did not compromise the still very bold embossing - this bottle is near mint, the only issue being some very, very minor roughness with no depth (more felt than seen) to one side of the lip rim that is likely to have been in-making. There is also must faintest wisps of haze a couple edges inside...very hard to see. This bottle also has some cool glass particles imbedded in the base and a couple sand grain sized glass fragments standing out from the lower size below the "S" in KURNITSKI'S (click images to enlarge) - all in making and caused by glass from previous bottles coming off in the mold. I think these are neat reminders of the hand-made nature of these mouth-blown bottles. As nice as an example as one can find! Incidentally, wire grass (wiregrass) is a native grass to South Carolina (and elsewhere) - Aristita stricta - which makes decent cattle forage when young, is closely linked with the native Longleaf pine ecosystems in that area, and from which I have absolutely no idea how they would make any type of medicine! Maybe some type of alcohol extract...with the emphasis on the alcohol. $250
FLETCHER'S VEGE-TONIC - Offered here is a very rare (only aware of two others, one missing the neck) tonic bottle from Cincinnati, OH. This was the product of the Mihalovitch, Fletcher & Co. - a Cincinnati distilling and liquor company that was established in 1873, but doing business under that name from 1883 to 1903; they continued under a different name until 1918. (All that according to the great website www.pre-pro.com !) Fletcher's first name was Victor and was connected to the company until at least 1907 but not later than 1913 it appears. The base is also embossed with D. O. C. which stands for the D. O. Cunningham Glass Company who began using that mark about 1880. Click base view to see the D. O. C. embossed on the base. The following is from a past WorthPoint listing of a billhead for the company that produced this product:
from Mihalovitch, Fletcher & Co., Distillers of Fruit Brandies - Native Wines,
Cased Liquors, dated Cincinnati, Mar 14, 1890. Sole Proprietors: Mihalovitch's
Hungarian Blackberry Juice, St. Jacobs Malt Whiskey, St. Jacob's Bitters,
Fletcher's Bitters, Fletcher's Vege Tonic,
Fletcher's Ginger Tonic, Fletcher's Peppermint & Ginger Essence, Iron Rock &
Rye, Golden Wheat Whiskey, Moonshine Bourbon, Florida Orange Wine and Brandy,
Old Bass Island Wines.” (Emphasis added)
The bottle has a crudely applied "oil" finish, i.e.,
long tapered collar with some good slop-over on the front as can be seen in the
image, produced in a "post-base mold," lacks evidence of mold air venting with
resultant body crudity, a nice medium golden amber glass and is embossed as you
can see on one side...the other 3 sides are unembossed. These attributes
point towards a manufacturing date between 1880 and maybe 1885. Given it's
rarity - and the billhead above indicating it was still being produced as late
as 1890 - I would speculate that these bottles were probably just used for a
short time in the early 1880s. Interestingly, the mold engraver did not plan
very well as it is obvious that he was running out of room when it got to the
TONIC portion (the ends of the "C" are missing) and had to squeeze those last 5
letters into a bit less space than the VEGE in front of the hyphen! The
condition of this bottle is near mint - no chips or cracks - with only the
slightest wisps of staining in a few isolated places, some hard to see fine
scratching and one very small and shallow pinhead ping mark (with no related
issues) on the lower back panel. Rarely offered bottle; I've never seen one
offered at any of the bottle auction houses.
bottle has a crudely applied "oil" finish, i.e., long tapered collar with some good slop-over on the front as can be seen in the image, produced in a "post-base mold," lacks evidence of mold air venting with resultant body crudity, a nice medium golden amber glass and is embossed as you can see on one side...the other 3 sides are unembossed. These attributes point towards a manufacturing date between 1880 and maybe 1885. Given it's rarity - and the billhead above indicating it was still being produced as late as 1890 - I would speculate that these bottles were probably just used for a short time in the early 1880s. Interestingly, the mold engraver did not plan very well as it is obvious that he was running out of room when it got to the TONIC portion (the ends of the "C" are missing) and had to squeeze those last 5 letters into a bit less space than the VEGE in front of the hyphen! The condition of this bottle is near mint - no chips or cracks - with only the slightest wisps of staining in a few isolated places, some hard to see fine scratching and one very small and shallow pinhead ping mark (with no related issues) on the lower back panel. Rarely offered bottle; I've never seen one offered at any of the bottle auction houses.SOLD!
GOLD LION (embossed lion) IRON TONIC - DR. THENARD - One of my favorite of the "picture" medicinal tonics I've offered several of these over the years; all sold pretty fast and ones I've seen sell the past couple years have jumped up in price. This one has the typical applied long tapered collar (aka "oil finish"), is about 9" tall, has a smooth domed "post mold" type base (dot in the base and vague number), and no evidence of mold air venting dating these between about 1875 and 1885. I still have never found out where these originated though many are found out West here, though I believe they are found in various regions of the U. S. Never commonly encountered - like the Reed's Gilt Edge Tonic bottles, which the Gold Lions may be a knock-off of - these also are seen for sale now and then but not frequently. However, the boldly embossed lion, embossing on two sides, and great name make them popular. This is a near mint example in the typical golden amber color these are usually seen in (done on purpose due to the "Gold" in the name?) with no chips, cracks, or significant inside or outside staining (small splotch on the lower back). It may have been lightly professionally cleaned, but not sure, and it looks like someone oiled the inside lightly at one point. (I've rinsed it out though a bit may still be left.) In any event, whatever haze is on the inside is very minor and largely invisible. Oh, I guess there are a few small onion skin type open bubbles on the surface with no depth but it is otherwise as it came out of the glass factory. As the images show this is a really good looking bottle - with the "issues" very minor - with some nice crudity and bubbles the wavy glass. SOLD!
Bark-Root Tonic - Celro-Kola Co., Portland, Ore. (label only) - This is an early machine-made labeled tonic bottle that has a great original-to-this-bottle label as noted, which was a "mild laxative averaging 25% alcohol." This is a somewhat later product of the Celro-Kola Co. of Portland, Oregon. There are at least two earlier embossed versions of this bottle dating from the 1900 to 1910s era - one mouth-blown, one machine-made. (I have examples of both which I may offer for sale in the near future.) This example has the one label on the side as shown with the other three sides not labeled nor embossed. Several of these machine-made labeled examples were found, if I remember the story correctly, in an old house in Washington many years ago. I've seen a couple since (a recent one sold on eBay for $175 or so!) though they are a rare bottle. this example is in mint condition with the original cork and about 99% of the label which only has some mild chipping along the edges and equally mild discoloring in a few spots. (Note: bottle sits straight up and is not tilted like the image shows; my poor camera work.) The base has the "IPG in a triangle" makers marking in the center of the base, used by the Illinois Pacific Glass Company, San Francisco, CA. which dates it to the late 1910s to early 1920s most likely, meaning this was probably one of "those" legal medicines that one could still purchase during National Prohibition without getting thrown in jail! Neat labeled medicinal tonic and Western manufactured bottle. $90
COLUMBIAN / TONIC / (very elaborate CT with TRADE MARK) / COLUMBIAN / MEDICINE CO / FRANKLIN / OHIO - Talk about lots of bold embossing! This oversized "prescription" type (a "Blake" style) bottle is strongly embossed for a patent medicine instead of a pharmacist, i.e., "Columbian Tonic." The bottle has a tooled "prescription" style finish (aka "lip"), is 8" tall with a smooth base which is faintly embossed with W. T. & Co. for Whitall, Tatum & Co. which was probably the largest producer of druggist (aka "pharmacy") bottles between the late 1870s and maybe 1920 or so (although the company continued into the mid-ish 1930s). This bottle likely dates from the mid-ish 1890s as I suspect the name was inspired by the 1892-1893 Columbian Exposition in nearby Chicago? The glass is just about crystal clear with just a slight manganese dioxide induced "pink" tint, which is visible in the image. Condition is immaculate with no chips, cracks, nicks, staining or any other post production damage...in fact, it looks to have never been buried. I've only seen a few of these through the years and believe them to be quite rare - certainly very rare in this essentially perfect condition. Even though clear/colorless glass, this bottles size and boldness of embossing would make a great window bottle, where it may turn a bit darker amethyst(?). $50
CLEMENTS' TONIC - Here is some color for ones medicine and/or tonic collection. This bottle is embossed as noted - and easily visible in the image - and in a wonderful citron or clear yellow-green color. Pictures shows the color and intensity pretty well (click to enlarge). This brand had wide distribution I believe, as they are found in the U. S., Australia, and likely many other places in various sizes, colors, and mold differences. There are even machine-made, screw top ones if my memory serves me correctly. I don't know the origin of the product but suspect England? This example is about as pristine as you can get, with the following specs: 6.5" tall, crudely tooled "patent" lip or finish (with an interesting, on-purpose pour spout indention inside the bore), smooth indented base, no evidence of air venting, and likely dating from the last couple decades of the 19th century. Glass has some decent crudeness and bubbles with the condition of the overall bottle essentially perfect to my eye - no chips, cracks, obvious scratches or scuffs...and nice clean, non-patinated (not stained) glass. Great example for the window! SOLD!
CY-CO TONIC - What a cool name for a tonic bottle! Wonder if it was the original Ritalin or Lithium or such for people that has some psychological issues? Probably the 16% alcohol was enough to cause some behavioral changes. Actually, the tonic was a "blood purifier" and used to treat "stomach disorders, Loss of Appetite, Constipation, and Similar Ailments" according to the label. The bottle is embossed with CY-CO TONIC on one shoulder (visible above the label in the full bottle image) and has a body completely encircled by the label...which is 99%+ intact (just a little chipping around the label edges). The label is soiled and has some variable staining but really in good shape as the images show. The base is faintly but clearly embossed with F. G. W. which indicates manufacture by the Fairmount Glass Works (Fairmount, IN.) who used that mark between 1889 and 1906. This bottle dates from the latter end of that period, i.e., early 1900s I would estimate, though it is possible that it was made slightly after when the plant moved to Indianapolis, IN. (1906). Bottle is about 9.4" tall, has a tooled "oil" finish (with original cork), smooth base (with noted embossing), and obviously never buried. The bottle itself is near mint with the exception of one small (<1/4" long, 1/8" wide) flake on the side of the lip rim that is just visible in the enlarged, full bottle image to the right. I've only encountered one other example - without a label - so it is a rarer than average medicinal tonic bottle that may have been an unsuccessful competitor to PERUNA as it notes on the reverse it's suitability for "delicate women" and the similar shape to the bottle. Nice item, great name, and labeled! SOLD!
DR. HOOFLAND'S - GERMAN - TONIC This is embossed on three non-indented sides (4th side for label). Just over 9 1/2" tall with a tooled "brandy" finish (or long tapered collar with a ring to some), blue aqua in color, smooth base, ca. 1880-1885. This is one of the rarer and more desirable tonic bottles and was almost certainly produced by the same company in Philadelphia as the very common Dr. Hoofland's Bitters. Apparently this brand didn't do too well or was much more limited in distribution as the tonics are hundreds of times rarer than the bitters. Condition of this example is mint...period. I can find nothing wrong with it and am only selling it because I recently acquired a ever so slightly better one (a bit more crudeness). This bottle does have a lot of nice bubbles in the glass and some stretch marks on the neck so it has it's crudeness too. Nice big, scarce, tonic bottle. $95
STEWART D. HOWE'S - ARABIAN / TONIC / BLOOD PURIFIER - NEW YORK - These Arabian Tonic bottles have always been a favorite of mine - have had several through the years - in that they are big in size, nicely embossed, a bit earlier in age (1870s), and have a great name! This bottle is 9.5" tall, 3.25" wide and about 2" thick. It also has an applied "patent" finish, blown in a post-mold (smooth base), lacks any mold air venting, and as noted likely dates from the 1870s (possibly late 1860s or very early 1880s) era I would estimate from the manufacturing characteristics. This example is boldly embossed and is essentially mint with just a bit of content haze in the upper front shoulder that takes a bright light to see. It also has some nice bubbles in the glass, a pleasant blue aqua color, stretch marks on in the neck, and a bit of slop over below the lip. I don't believe it has every been buried and certainly not professionally cleaned. One of the bigger, better, and fairly scarce "medicinal tonic" bottles! $65
VIN ZYMO WINE TONIC - This bottle is a very interesting, very early 20th century (1900-1910) "wine tonic" - common sub-species of medicinal tonics - bottle that was bottled in a standard "Bordeaux" style wine bottle. The bottle was produced in a turn-mold as it has no side-seams and the distinctive concentric horizontal rings on the body typical of that manufacturing method. It also has a tooled banded "champagne" style lip or finish, smooth base with a 1.25" kick-up and bump ("mamelon") in the center, 11.6" tall, and is a nice medium olive green color.
The bottle is labeled Vin Zymo Brand Elixir Wine Tonic which was produced by Purexo Products of San Francisco, CA. It notes a 20 or 30% alcohol level (there is a hole that obscures part of percentage) which is much higher than the usual levels of wine (12-15%) so must have been fortified to give it extra "medicinal" qualities. The label also notes that it "contains valuable medicaments (whatever that means) in properly blended fully matured California wine" and is "free from iron and laxatives." The bottle is in about mint condition (a little scratching on reverse) and the original label is very colorful and 95%+ intact and still solid. Bottle used for and pictured on the Historic Bottle Website. Interesting California wine related item from the era when the government was just beginning to really crack down on quackery. $20
JOYNER / UNITED DRUG CO. (in a shield) / TRADE MARK / SPOKANE / U.S.A. - This is a scarce druggist bottle from Spokane, WA. that is quite rare with the original label and string around the neck that probably had some tag attached at some point. Click close-up of the embossing to see such. This 7 3/8" tall (12 oz.) bottle from the early 20th century has a tooled, unusual two-part lip or finish - what is called the "reinforced extract" or "collared ring" depending on what reference is used. It also has a large majority of the original label (see image) which notes that it contained "Ideal Blood Mixture and Tonic" with an alcohol level of 20%; it also notes all the maladies it would treat - from acne to "malarial poison." The bottle is also embossed just above the label with "12 OZ.", has a smooth base, clear or colorless glass and is in mint condition with no chips, cracks, staining or other issues...reflecting it having never been buried. It does have a bit of dirt inside which would certainly wash out easily, though I did not since I didn't want to possibly disturb the label integrity. This bottle was acquired for use in helping illustrate some concepts on the Historic Bottle Website. Nice item with bold embossing and a pretty nice original label. $25
MULL'S GRAPE TONIC / ROCK ISLAND, ILL. - Interestingly enough, this bottle was blown in the exact same mold as the labeled Mull's Tonic listed above. This is indicated via a close inspection of the embossing pattern between the two (identical) and the presence of an embossed "3" mold number on the base. As with the other example, this bottle is the smaller rectangular variant in a medium amber color with a touch of red (blown out of the same batch as the labeled example?), 7.5" tall, smooth base (the noted embossed "3"), a tooled "oil" type finish (long tapered collar), and dates from the very late 1890s to early 1900s. Condition of this example is also near mint; no noticeable "issues" like chips, cracks, or staining. $25
THE GLOBE / TONIC - BITTERS - This is a nice example of a "bitters tonic" in that it is embossed vertically with THE GLOBE TONIC on one side, then almost as an after thought (or marketing ploy), decided it was a BITTERS also but embossed that on the opposite side. Viola...a Tonic Bitters! These are interestingly molded bottles in that they are one of the few I know of that have indented or sunken panels but only on three sides of each of the four side panels, i.e., they are indented all the way to the heel of the bottle. This makes the four vertical body edges seem raised relatively speaking.
These bottles are listed as "scarce" in Ring & Ham - cataloged as G49. It was a product of John W. Perkins & Co. of Portland, Maine and based on the manufacturing methods (sloppy applied finish, lack of mold air venting) they appear to date from the mid to late 1860s (listed in Ring & Ham in a late 1860s publication) to possibly the late 1870s. Given that they are "scarce" they had to have been around for awhile but may just have been a regionally distributed product. This example came from a collection in the Midwest in a trade years ago and was described as mint, which is largely true. It does, however, have a couple very short (<5mm) annealing checks near the base of the neck on the reverse which are certainly in-making. Otherwise the bottle is essentially sparkling mint with no chips, cracks or obvious staining & just a couple short scratches. It is also has a nice glossy surface and an appealing lightish golden amber glass. Great bottle overall and priced well. SOLD!
BELOW ITEMS ARE ALL SOLD!
Dr. JONES / RED / (cloverleaf) / CLOVER TONIC - This is embossed horizontally on the front indented panel; the reverse is embossed vertically with GRIGGS & CO. / OTTAWA, ILLS. 8 3/4" tall, crudely applied "brandy" finish, smooth base, ca. 1875-1885. The color of this fairly crude example is a brilliant orange amber with maybe a touch of red to my eye. It is unusual for a square "bitters type" bottle like this to have horizontal embossing on one side and vertical on the other, though this feature is shared with the regionally competitive and popular Primley's Iron & Wahoo Tonic (Indiana). This particular example is in very good condition with some ample wear to the base (maybe never buried and sitting somewhere?) and a few small wear spots on the sides. There is also a small (1/8th square) abrasion mark on one back side corner that is very minor and non-detracting (most wouldn't even describe it) and a tiny bit of content haze in a couple shoulder corners. Otherwise this is a very nice example with bubbles, neck stretch marks, body crudeness (wavy panels - see pictures) and great color. SOLD!
PHOSPHATED COCA MALT TONIC - This is embossed on the shoulder of this
wonderful pair of very rare and colorful medicinal tonic bottles that contained
some form of extract of the coca leaf - a narcotic. Click
view to see such. This was probably a locally distributed (somewhere
on the Eastern seaboard) competitor to the very popular Coca Mariani from
France. The larger "regular" size bottle is a rich green color - some
would call it "Lockport green" after the glassworks in New York that made
bottles in this color...and possibly the glass company that produced these
items. It is 8.75" tall, smooth base, ladies leg type neck, crudely
applied single banded lip or finish, and probably ca. the 1880s. The
smaller "sample" size is also of the same color (a tad lighter probably due to
the thinner glass), smooth base, similar - though tooled - lip, 5.3" tall, and
ca. the same era - 1880s most likely. The condition of the larger bottle
is sparking mint with no staining, chips or cracks...just a very tiny spot of
"roughness" on the side of the finish in one spot which is very hard to see.
The sample size is also essentially in mint condition, though it appears that
someone at some time buffed the top surface of the lip. This is very hard
to see and fooled me for years (it was sold to me a "mint" and didn't
look very close) but a close
inspection shows that it has been buffed slightly to smooth out (I suspect) a flat flake?
Not much was ground down, but the polished look to the rim is not original, in
my opinion. In any event, these are very rare bottles...I've never seen
another sample size and only a couple of the regular size. Both for....
C. G. PENDLETON'S / TONIC - This is embossed vertically within an arched sunken panel on the front (well, the embossing makes it the "front" I suppose) with the other three unembossed sides also being indented with rounded arching at the top. This is a quite rare Southern (Memphis, TN. in my research) tonic bottle that infrequently is offered for sale in my experience with medicinal tonics. (Note: One correspondent on this bottle years ago noted that it contained a "Tonic Bitters" but was embossed only "Tonic" - much like the Warner's Tonic's were labeled as "Tonic Bitters.") This offering is additionally a spectacular example - the best I've ever seen. The color is a beautiful yellow with a bit of an amber tint and possibly just a touch of green; the images to the right portray the color pretty well (click to enlarge) so judge for yourself. It has a very crudely applied "oil" finish, is 9.5" tall (a bit over 2.5" to each square side), has a smooth circular domed base, and dates from or just after the American Civil War (1860s to possibly early 1870s) based on the "look" and manufacturing features. The glass surface is very wavy and crude with lots of small to moderate size bubbles throughout the glass. The condition of this example is near mint with a very faint content line on the inside a bit over halfway up the body and a few very small, vary shallow open bubbles on the surface. This bottle may have been professionally cleaned, but I can't say for sure; if so it was very lightly. All in all this is an exceptional bottle which if it said "Bitters" instead of "Tonic" would be priced much higher. SOLD!
ROHRER'S (decorative oval) - EXPECTORAL / WILD / CHERRY / TONIC (decorative arch) - LANCASTER, PA. (decorative oval) - Although these bottles aren't real rare, they are much in demand for obvious reasons - the pyramidal shape, roped corners, crudeness & age, and just an overall esthetic appeal that is undeniable. It is one of the better (i.e., higher value) medicinal tonic bottles out there. This examples stats are: 10.5" tall, smooth base (with ample wear indicating it was never buried), somewhat crudely applied "brandy" style lip or finish, a noticeably lighter yellowish amber color, ca. 1860s to 1870s. This example is in near mint condition with the only "issue" being that there appears to be a very faint overall content haze to the inside - most likely from having some liquid (original contents?) stored in it for some extended period of time. The outside is sparkling clean (no haze) with no scratching of note and maybe a tiny rub here and there if one looks very closely. It is essentially in mint condition with no chips, cracks, or other damage. Beautiful lighter colored example; see the comparison photo showing the bottle (left) with a medium amber example. SOLD!
MEXICAN - TONIC boldly embossed on two separate sides (the narrow sides). Medium amber with a bit of a reddish tint (see enlarged images), rectangular with wide beveled corners, almost 11" tall, tooled long tapered collar with ring, smooth base, American ca. 1890-1900 based on the manufacturing based diagnostic features. This is a BIG and fairly rare tonic in a great shape for which the place of origin is unknown...anyone know?
The couple of Mexican tonics I've acquired through the years came from the Mid-west, though some think it is Western in origin. I just don't know. The bottle is essentially shaped like a big eight-sided flask - 4 1/2" wide and 2 1/2" thick - and has some nice bubbles scattered about in the glass. Condition of this specimen is about mint with no staining or cracks; just a very small nick on one heel corner. A boldly sized tonic bottle that isn't seen often. SOLD!
/ TONIC / COCA WINE / LONDON - Here is a great tonic bottle from the
late 19th century era of popularity for coca based "medicines." These were
basically alcoholic beverages laced with the "active" ingredient(s) from coca
leaves, i.e., cocaine. Certainly they made the users of the products
"active" as the product was very popular not only in Europe & British Isles but
in the U. S. also...where this bottle was found. This product was a
competitor to the French Coca Mariani which came in an almost identical
shaped bottle. Armbrechts was certainly the English "knock-off"
riding the coattails of the French products very "high" (pun intended)
popularity by using the same type bottle. This product claimed to be "Not
a stimulant but a restorative nerve tonic for all complaints arising from
depressed vitality." Hum...sounds like a stimulant to me! Take a
look at the very cool 1895 advertisement at this link:
There are probably scores if not a hundred or more of the common Coca Mariani bottles around for every one of the Armbrechts bottles.)
The bottle itself is certainly Euro-made based on its "look," i.e., the very heavy glass, that particular olive green glass color, very whittled in the body, the very globby applied lip, and the domed base with a large protruding bump in the middle which is like a shallower version of a champagne bottle base. This bottle is an "imperial pint" (from the add linked above) in capacity, 8.5" tall, and 3.5" wide in the body. The embossing is exceptionally bold and distinct; click the close up image above to view the embossing up close. The condition is excellent with no chips, cracks, or other dings; just a few small areas of light haze here and there which are not distracting but indicating that it was likely dug. As with a lot of these dark, heavy glass European-made bottles of the era, the glass is very resilient and does not stain (aka "patinate") easily. A rare bottle which is not encountered very often in my experience; this is only example I've ever had. SOLD!
TOWNSEND'S / PHOSPHATED / CEREAL TONIC - Yum! Sounds like this was as hard to swallow as cod liver oil. This is a very rare tonic bottle - in fact, only one of two I've heard of - that is a modified semi-cabin shape (steeply tapered shoulders; see close-up image) . It is possibly from one of the famous Townsend's of sarsaparilla fame (S. P. Townsend or Jacob Townsend...aka Old Dr. Townsend) though that is speculation. This particular bottle did come from New England so it is possible. In fact, these are actually rarer - in my experience - than the "other" Townsend's tonic bottle - the "Dr. Townsend's Aromatic Hollands Tonic" which is the same shape as the later (1880s) Dr. Townsend's Sarsaparilla bottles. (Note: I will be adding a Hollands Tonic to this list in the future.) Maybe this Townsend's Tonic is from the maker of Old Dr. Townsend's Sarsaparilla?
Anyway, this bottle is square, 10" tall, a light to medium amber in color, has a crudely applied long tapered collar (aka "oil" finish with a lot of "glob" on the outside and particularly on the inside), smooth base (post-mold type base), embossing is very bold (all on one side), and dates from the 1880s. Condition of the bottle is essentially mint in that I can't really find any thing wrong with it - no chips, cracks, dings, flea-bites - just the lightest of wisps of haze in a couple small spots on the surface. Great bottle with a unique shape which - like the Dr. Blendigo's Tonic listed above - is one of the better rarities in the medicinal tonic realm. SOLD!
GOLD LION (embossed lion) IRON TONIC - DR. THENARD - One of my favorite of the "picture" medicinal tonics I've offered several of these over the years - all sold pretty fast. This one has the typical applied long tapered collar (aka "oil finish"), is about 9" tall, has a smooth domed "post mold" type base (dot in the base and vague number), and no evidence of mold air venting dating these between about 1875 and 1885. I still have never found out where these originated though many are found out West here, though I believe they are found in various regions of the U. S. Never commonly encountered (like the Reed's Gilt Edge Tonic bottles, which the Gold Lions may be a knock-off of), these also aren't great rarities either. However, the embossed lion, embossing on two sides, and great name make them popular. This is a pretty good example in the typical golden amber color (done on purpose due to the "Gold" in the name?) with no chips, cracks, or outside staining, though it has some scattered light content haze to the inside (a bit heavier just inside the lip). There are also a few small onion skin type open bubbles on the surface with no depth (one shows in the Dr. Thenard side image), a few minor abrasions on the unembossed panels, and one small flea bite at the heel on one unembossed side. As the images show this is really a pretty good looking bottle - with the "issues" very minor - with some decent crudity and bubbles the glass. SOLD!
"CHERRY TONIC" Label Only, P. G. W. on base - This is a bit of an enigmatic bottle in several ways. First it is labeled (95%+ intact; see photos) which is quite informative (click close-up of label to see such) except that it doesn't note where the product was made! This wouldn't be a huge issue except that the base is embossed boldly with P. G. W. which was the makers marking for the Pacific Glass Works which, to quote Dr. Julian Toulouse, was the "first glass-container factory west of the Rockies" being founded in about 1862. It operated until 1875 or 1876 (there is some differences of opinion on the date) when it was combined with the San Francisco Glass Works to form the SF&PGW. To my memory, there aren't a lot of bottles with the Pacific Glass Works makers marking on it; the only one for sure I can think of is the Victory fruit jars (like this one I sold some time back) and a scarce body non-embossed blob soda bottle that is base embossed with this maker's name. I've never seen another example of this bottle, sans label, either, or any other bottle that had P. G. W. on the base, though there must be some out there since Toulouse described it. In any event, this is a pretty cool bottle on its own with a somewhat crudely tooled "brandy" finish or lip (smaller tooled lips likes this began in the 1870s on medicine bottles) with the original cork, no apparent mold air venting, and a wonderful color that is hard to describe but I would call it an olive yellow...it is not amber. Click HERE to see another image which shows the color pretty well to my eye...and a great color indeed! The bottle itself is essentially mint as it has never been buried; just a few small scuff marks on the back side. The label is as you can see in the image which is virtually all there but a bit edge raggedy with some staining marks. Although I can't guarantee that this was definitely a product of the Pacific Glass Works, there aren't any other good choices that fit the letters on the base. Interesting bottle & label in a great color with a great makers marking! SOLD!
VIN-TONE / THE FOOD TONIC - Two different sizes! This is embossed on the shoulder of both these bottles - the regular size (a scarce bottle in its own right) and the much rarer sample size! The taller bottle is almost 9" tall; the sample about 4". Both are light to medium amber in color, have the unique pedestal shape that is very unique, tooled "ring" type one-part lips, smooth bases, and date right around 1900 I would guess.
These tonics seem to come out of the East, though I don't know specifically where. Both bottles are in good shape though have some light (large) to moderate haze (sample) that isn't too detracting. There are no chips or notable cracks, though upon close inspection the large size has a short (4 mm) "flash" in the back which is hard to find. A nice, pleasing-to-the eye pair of food tonics. Incidentally, there were a lot of food based tonic products during the era from the 1880s until well into the 20th century, including what was essentially just beer marketed as "malt tonic." This offering was almost certainly one of the many "wine tonics" ("VIN") that were popular during that same era. A lot of this marketing was a futile attempt by producers of alcohol products to make them more "medicinal" and try to stave off the evil (to them) Temperance types, who of course won the battle with the passage of National Prohibition which took effect in 1919/1920. Those were the days! SOLD!
RAMON'S PEPSIN / CHILL TONIC / MADE BY BROWN MFG. CO - NEW YORK, N.Y. - GREENVILLE, TENN. - This is all embossed on three sides of this rare early 1900s medicinal tonic bottle from the South. Also included with this bottle is an original tin of Ramon's Tonic Regulator made by the same company - Brown Manufacturing Co. that dates from the same era, i.e., the very early 20th century. The bottle is about 6 5/8" tall, has a tooled double ring finish or lip, and is a nice sun colored amethyst color (whether irradiated or not I can't say). It has a smooth base which is embossed DIXIE indicating production by the Dixie Glass Works which was located in Tallapoosa, Georgia and operated from 1898 to either 1906 or 1907. The bottle is essentially mint; the only "issue" I can see is a very, very, very faint iridescence to the inside that is even and almost invisible. The can is a really neat item that is full of whatever the formula was (fine granular) and has a folded flyer about the product sitting on top of the product and which appears to be in good shape (I didn't open an inspect it, but it has information about the ailments it treated/cured). The can is in good shape with some soiling and rust spots here and there but is almost all readable (one narrow side is hard to read but the same as the opposite narrow side). The product was for the "...quick relief in Liver Complaints, Biliousness, Dyspepsia, Bilious Headache, Costiveness..." among other things. Nice pair of rare tonics for one price. SOLD!
ORANGE TONICA RISLEY & Co. N.Y. embossed around the shoulder of this nicely shaped "quasi-tonic" - probably a liqueur with medicinal qualities. Color is a beautiful golden yellow (see picture), round "drum" shaped body with a ridge at the base and shoulder, long "ladies leg" style neck, plain indented base, fairly crudely applied wide single band type collar, 10 1/4" tall, American ca. 1870-80. Bottle has no stains or cracks and some nice long bubbles in the glass. It does, however, have an extremely shallow, flat side-of-the-lip flake that is 3/16" long and 1/8" wide with some accompanying "roughness" right at the edge of lip. Doesn't amount to much and by describing it I make it seem more than it is - but it's better to have more information than less, eh? There is also an small (1/8" diameter) impact mark on the side of the bottle that has no depth or radiations but it's there - really no problem. This makes a beautiful window bottle (that's were I have it now) with its "clear" yellowish color. Though not quite a figural, it does have some unique shape attributes that make it a handsome piece of 19th century glass. SOLD!
H. J. DWINELL / DWINELL'S / NERVE TONIC / MORRISVILLE / VT. - A rare tonic from New England! Within the universe of medicinal tonic bottles are a small subset of what appear to be medicinal tonics that were as much beverage as medicine; this is a rare example of such from Vermont. It is boldly embossed as noted above within a somewhat oval "slug" plate (glassmakers just called them a "plate" or "plate mold") this bottle is of relatively heavy glass similar to that needed for soda & mineral water bottles, indicating that this product was probably carbonated and the bottle intended to be reused. The bottle is 7.5" tall, blown in a post-bottom mold ("7" embossed on the base) without evidence of air venting and sporting a tooled blob style finish...all indicating a manufacture date range, based on manufacturing characteristics, of the mid-1880s to maybe mid-1890s. Greenish aqua in color it is basically mint in condition with only a few very hard to find and very small scuff marks; no chips, cracks, flashes, or staining and appears to have never been professionally cleaned. This is the best example of this bottle I've ever seen, though I've not seen or heard of very many indicating some rarity and most likely a limited, local (VT) distribution. SOLD!
"CLA-WOOD" / MALT TONIC / CLARKE-WOODWARD / DRUG CO. / PORTLAND, OREGON - Not sure if this bottle should be listed under "medicines" or "beers" as it is a hybrid between the two. This bottle was acquired for illustrating my Historic Bottle Website. A portion of the write-up on this squatty beer bottle style (on the "Beer/Ale Bottles" typology page in the "Malt Tonics" style page) and the bottle itself follows:
Undoubtedly, these squatty malt extract/tonic bottles were also used for regular beer, though the medicinal or health promoting (according to the producers) malt extract/tonic products are believed to be the primary intended use of these type bottles as indicated by the names used by the glass makers noted earlier. During the two or three decades leading up to National Prohibition in early 1920, many alcoholic beverage producers made the ultimately futile attempt to make their products more acceptable in a climate of growing temperance fervor by promoting medicinal qualities. Many malt tonics made just prior to (and during) Prohibition were indeed non-alcoholic. However, it must recognized that many people (even today with some scientific justification) believed alcoholic beverages had useful medicinal qualities (Young 1961). Hops were also believed to have medicinal "tonic" effects and were noted to be useful for "general or local debility associated with wakefulness, enfeebled digesting, etc." (Frederick Stearns 1886). In fact, these malt extract/tonics were usually sold through druggists as evidenced by an 1895 advertisement for "Teutonic - A Concentrated Liquid Extract of Malt and Hops" which was bottled in the malt extract/tonic style of bottle and claimed to be good for "convalescents, nursing mothers, sufferers from insomnia and dyspepsia" ; it was available "at all druggists" (Anderson 1973). For an example of a malt tonic that was likely made just before National Prohibition was the law-of-the-land, click Heileman's Malt Tonic (Heileman Brewing Co., La Crosse, WI. - 1890 to 1962) to view a picture of a machine-made labeled example that likely dates between about 1915 and 1919 (Bull et. al. 1984).
The bottle pictured...is a crown cap finish example of this style that is embossed "CLA-WOOD / MALT TONIC / CLARKE-WOODWARD / DRUG CO. / PORTLAND, OREGON that was produced between about 1906 and 1916. This company also marketed a "Cla-Wood Malt Extract" which was likely similar to the "Extract of Malt" products discussed earlier (White 1974). This bottle was mouth-blown in a cup base mold, has multiple air venting marks on each shoulder, and a tooled crown finish. The crown finish was increasingly popular on mouth-blown soda and beer bottles from the late 1890s up until virtual complete conversion to machine-made crown finish bottles around 1915 to 1917 for beer and soda bottles (Lockhart pers. comm. 2003).
This example is 8.2" tall, a medium amber coloration, has 1595 embossed on the otherwise smooth base, tooled crown finish or lip, and otherwise as noted in the excerpt above. It is near mint with really no issues at all - no staining, cracks, chips, dings, etc. though I suppose there is a scuff somewhere on it under close inspection. Nice example - with some bubbles in the glass - of a scarce Northwest "beer tonic" bottle from the early 1900s. SOLD!
LYON'S / (fancy FKL monogram) / CELERY / TONIC / PREPARED / ONLY BY / F. K. LYON / DUNKIRK / N. Y. - All this is boldly embossed within an indented front panel on this rare tonic bottle from the small far western New York town of Dunkirk located on the shore of Lake Erie. I know nothing about the company that produced this product except that there are three variations of the bottle that look similar! All appear to be quite rare in my experience as I've only recorded one example of each variation over the years of collecting tonics. I believe this is the first of the variations since it has Mr. F. K. Lyon as the sole proprietor. (The next variant has "Lyons & Welner Co." and a different monogram; the third and last [?] has "Dunkirk Medical Co." as the proprietor.) Since they are all apparently plate mold bottles, all that was needed was to change the plate to change the embossing. This example also has A. M. F. & Co. / H 12 embossed within a circular indentation on the base. Those initials stand for the Adelbert M. Foster & Co. - a Chicago, IL. bottle/glass producer, which according to Toulouse (1971) used this makers mark from 1895 to 1911; this example is probably from the 1895 to 1905 era I would estimate. The bottle is a "typical" larger (9.25"), rectangular medicine bottle style with three sunken panels (two side ones not embossed) and a non-indented, back panel for the label. It has a tooled double ring lip or finish and was made in a nice blue-aqua glass color with various bubbles and stretch marks. The condition is near mint - no chips, cracks, dings or noticeable internal staining. The only "issue" I see is some light, external haze on a portion of the embossing side, which looks like it could be removed easily by hand. In any event an excellent condition example overall of a very hard to find, small western New York town celery tonic bottle! SOLD!
FEDERAL TONIC - BROWNLOW & RAYMOND - That is boldly embossed on two sides of this big, striking tonic bottle which is a spectacularly deep brilliant cobalt blue that can appear to have a purple cast to it in certain light! (Click window view to see a daylight window shot of the bottle.) There are just a handful of cobalt blue medicinal tonic bottles and this is arguably the "big boy" of that select grouping - at least if height is the criteria, though I think it is one of the most beautiful tonic bottles that exist. The specs on this bottle are that it is a towering 10.4" tall, 3.2" wide, and 1.5" deep. The long tapered collar ("oil finish" in glassmaker parlance) is crudely applied with ample slop over which along with a smattering of bubbles in the glass and stretch marks on the neck round out this stunning beauty. Better yet, this never-buried example is near mint as evidenced by the lack of any staining, almost no post-production impacts (a tiny pin prick mark at the base in one spot and a few light scratches and/or scuff marks), the naturally glossy shine to the glass, shelf wear on some of the high points of the base, AND the presence of part of the original label indicating that the company was in Ogdensburg, NY - a small town on the bank of the St. Lawrence River in northwest New York facing Canada. Click close-up of the label fragment to see such. As fine an example as you can acquire, this bottle will grace & add color to my "top bottle shelves" until someone else takes it off my hands. SOLD!
DR. MOTT'S / WILD CHERRY TONIC / A. H. POWERS & CO - This is one of the great rarities of Western medicinal tonic bottles - of which there is a small universe to begin with - although the Mott's do come in two versions. The Powers example is reportedly (Bill & Betty Wilson's medicines book) the earliest and rarest of the two, though frankly both versions are equally rare in my observations. (The other version is about identical but has SPRUANCE STANLEY & CO instead of A. H. POWERS & CO.) The Powers examples reportedly date from 1879 or so; the other from the early 188os. The tonic was trademarked in 1878 by A. H. Powers & Henderson of Sacramento, CA. though they apparently sold it to the other San Francisco company shortly thereafter...again according to the Wilson's. This is a fine example of this bottle with good embossing - distinct as the image shows. The bottle is a light-ish amber glass, just over 9" tall, has a very crudely applied "oil" finish or lip, blown in a post-base mold, and has a smooth base with an embossed dot in the center. The condition is excellent with no cracks or dings; just a couple very short (<1/2") scratches on the non-embossed sides and some light staining in a few inside edges. I don't believe it has ever been cleaned and doesn't really need it as the staining is faint and non-distracting. This bottle is of a fairly light (thinner) glass compared to similar "case" bottles (like Hostetter's Bitters which are usually much heavier) with some dimpling on the panel surfaces that add a bit to the crudeness. Here is a cool Western rarity which is very hard to find! SOLD!
DOCTOR HENLEY'S - DANDELION TONIC - This is one of the relatively few truly Western medicinal tonic bottles having been invented by the famous Dr. Henley of IXL Bitters fame (although according to the Wilson's great book 19th Century Medicine in Glass, it was actually sold from the 1880s on by Snell, Heitshu & Woodard of Portland, OR.). This bottle is a medium amber with a bit of a reddish tint, has a tooled long tapered collar (aka "oil finish"), smooth base (indented - click base view to see such), and dates from the 1890s most likely. These bottles are fairly scarce, though obtainable. Condition of this example is pretty good though it does have a small flake on one heel corner with no radiations from it and is really not visible on display (the flake is visible in the base view image linked above...upper right corner of the base). Otherwise the bottle has some minor to visible splotchy stain, a few scuff marks, and a very, very small (2-3 mm) area that is every so slightly rough on the edge of the rim. This all sounds worse than it really is but the roughness is there; the images accurately show the bottle as in pretty good shape overall. Priced accordingly. SOLD!
MULL'S GRAPE TONIC / ROCK ISLAND, ILL. - Here is a fine example of somewhat scarce tonic, except with the original label, box, AND the original in-box booklet touting all the benefits of this product. As the side of the boxes notes the product "CURES CONSTIPATION PERMANENTLY." The label (and label on the box illustration bottle) also notes that the product is "especially prescribed for weak and nervous men, women and children, invalids, and aged persons." The box is loaded with information regarding this tonics "flesh-building properties", "wonderful blood-making and strength-giving virtues", and the like. The bottle is the smaller rectangular variant in a medium amber color with a touch of red, 7.5" tall, has the original cork though no contents, smooth base (embossed with a "3"), tooled "oil" type finish (long tapered collar) and dates from 1904 - just a couple years prior to the passage of the Pure Food & Drugs Act of 1906.
How do I know it dates from 1904? It is stamped on the left side of the bottle label in purple ink, i.e., "Mar 17, 04" - click on the image to the above left to see this. The condition of the bottle is mint with no chips, cracks or other post-production damage; the bottle label is 100% intact with just a bit of staining (from the leaked contents) to the upper right corner as shown in the images. The box is a bit rougher with some buckling and staining but intact (top box flat detached and inside) and all readable. The bottle itself is perfectly mirrored by the box illustration. The little pamphlet is a bit creased and has some soiling, but other wise good shape. Mull's Grape Tonic was made by the Lightning Medicine Co. - named, I presume, in honor of the speed of "recovery" their product induced! Neat item with the rarely encountered labels, box, etc. SOLD!
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