alex von humboldt’s stomach bitters

Provenance: Richard T. Siri Collection

The bottle that contained Alex Von Humbolt’s Stomach Bitters is a favorite treasured by western bitters collectors because it is so rare and usually has an abundance of glass character. The square bottle with chamfered side corners can be found with an applied long tapered collar while others have a straight applied collar with a ring beneath.

Charles V. Fleishmann from San Francisco, California received a copyright for his label for Alex Von Humbolt’s Celebrated Stomach Bitters in 1866. Fleischmann was the sole proprietor and manufacturer located at 625 Greenwich Street. The bitters was only advertised in 1868 and is believed to have been made at the San Francisco Glass Works. Hazlett & Miller were noted as the Agents for the United States. They probably produced the bitters as they were the manufacturers of three other medicines.

The brand was named after a world-renowned botanist Alexander von Humboldt. Apparently, his work involved discovering the curative factors of poison used on the tips of arrows and spears of Amazon natives.

Baron Alexander von Humboldt

Alexander von Humboldt was the reigning scientific mind of the early nineteenth century, a unique combination of naturalist and adventurer. With his companion, Aime Bonpland, Humboldt cut a six thousand mile swath across the New World, through what is now Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, and Cuba. Risking his life in treacherous terrain, he conducted the first extensive scientific explorations of the Andes and the Amazon, literally redrawing the map of the Americas and dramatically expanding our knowledge of the natural world. He brought back to Europe more than 60,000 plant specimens and a multitude of exotic New World animals, set an altitude record while climbing the volcano Chimborazo, made revolutionary discoveries regarding volcanoes and the Earth’s magnetic field, and introduced millions of Americans and Europeans to the astonishing cultures of the Aztecs and the Incas.

At the completion of his epic journey, Humboldt became one of the most celebrated men in the world, feted by Thomas Jefferson in Washington and invited to Napoleon’s coronation in Paris. His ideas revolutionized scientific research, laid the groundwork for entirely new fields of study, such as climatology, oceanography, and several branches of geography. His adventures profoundly influenced followers and students such as Charles Darwin. Today, more places and geographical features are named after Humboldt than any other historical figure, and scientists continue to build on the foundations he established. – Gerard Helferich

Fourteen towns in the United States and one in Canada are named after Alexander von Humboldt. Additionally, mountains in Antarctica, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, an ocean current off Peru, the largest glacier in Greenland, a bay, a county, a university, a redwood forest in California, streams, parks, city streets, and even a “sea” on the moon carry his name.

The Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles is as follows:

V 31 ALEX VON HUMBOLDTS // f // STOMACH BITTERS // f //
Hazlett & Miller, Agents for the United States
9 ½ x 2 5/8 (7) 7/16
Square, LTC, Amber, Yellow, Green, and Yellow olive, Applied mouth, Very rare
A western brand.
Label: Alex. von Humboldt’s Celebrated Stomach Bitters. One wine-glassful taken three times a day, before meals, will be a swift and certain cure for Dyspepsia, Liver Complaint, and every species of indigestion – an unfailing remedy for Intermittent Fever, Fever and Ague, and all kinds of periodical disorders…

Support Image: Auction Lot #208 Alex Von Humboldt’s Stomach Bitters in olive green. This is the only true green seen by American Bottle Auctions. Obtained by Bryan Grapentine in 2001 in a private sale. Not super crude, but a decent amount of crudity. Great top! Just a scratch or two. Some very minor interior stain. – American Bottle Auctions, Grapentine I – Auction 41, April 2007

Support: Reference to Early Glassworks of California by Warren B. Friedrich

Support: Reference to Bitters Bottles by Carlyn Ring and William C. Ham

Support: Label image from the Eric McGuire collection

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