On The Square

Bitter Sweet Bottles

By Bidsquare

Aug 17,2015 | 09:00 EDT

Bitters came into being as alcohol disguised as medicine. In an effort to circumvent liquor taxes, 19th Century distillers took to adding small amounts of herbal bitters to gin and sold it without taxation under the guise of medicinal liquor. Drinking bitters, the civilized man of the 1870’s could get his fill of strong drink without being condemned by the temperance union and other do-gooders.

On Sunday, August 23, Rachel Davis Fine Arts will offer an outstanding collection of bitters bottles among the 592 lots of their Antique Bottles sale. Whether you’re an established collector or a new kid on the block, the tremendous depth of the sale should see all parties come away satisfied.

This little piggys going to market! Lot 98, one of the real standouts in the sale, is a Berkshire Bitters bottle produced by Cincinnati’s Amann & Co. At the time of its production, around 1870, Cincinnati was the pig slaughter capital of America. Pigs were also seen as symbols of real prosperity.

Lot 19 - once upon a time there were ink bottles that people dipped quills in to write...honestly!

Great collectibles at the Antique Bottles sale dont end at bitters. Other offerings include decanters, flasks, inks, medicines, soda and mineral waters, dairy, fruit jars, spirits and more. Its a timely reminder that, despite all the plastic and cardboard surrounding us these days, there was a time when receptacles were produced by real craftsman. Look now at the full catalog.

Lot 133, three aqua scroll flasks - whether put to use or put on display, their charm is timeless.

Whats your poison, friend? Scare your unsuspecting guests senseless when you offer them salt n pepper from these cobalt poison bottles. Fun for all the family...

It doesnt get much more old school than this. Lot 384, eight stoneware beer bottles made in Cleveland, OH, hails from a time before Superbowl commercials.