alex von humboldt’s stomach bitters

Provenance: Richard T. Siri collection

The Alex Von Humbolt’s Stomach Bitters is a favorite Western brand treasured by Western bitters collectors because it is so rare and usually has a lot of glass character. The bottle can be found with an applied tapered top while others have a straight applied collar with a ring around it.

The bottle was made for only a very short period of time from 1866 to 1868 or so. The brand was named after a world-renowned botanist Alex von Humboldt. Apparently, his work involved discovering the poison, curare, used on the tips of arrows and spears of Amazon natives. These bottles are believed to have been made at San Francisco Glassworks.

Alex 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

Alex von Humboldt, an incredible traveler, author, and father figure of science was perhaps the most admired man of the 19th century. Fourteen towns in the United States and one in Canada are named for him. Mountains in Antarctica, North and South America, Australia, New Zealand. An ocean current off of Peru, the largest glacier in Greenland. A bay, a county, a university, a redwood forest in California. Streams, parks, city streets, even a “sea” on the moon carry his name.

The map of Northern Nevada is covered with Humboldt’s name; the county, a town, a canyon, a mountain range, a huge national forest. Most of the California and Nevada naming was due to the little “Pathfinder”. John C. Fremont. Fremont was an ardent Humboldt admirer, naming the river that marked the westward expansion and later the gold rush trail.

Fremont’s diary – Nov. 8th, 1845. “Crane’s Branch led into a larger stream that was one of the two forks forming a river to which I gave the name of Humboldt. I am given by Himself the honor of being the first to place his great name on the map of the continent. Both the river and mountain to which I gave his name are conspicuous; the river stretching across the Basin to the foot of the Sierra Nevada.” – Roger Terry

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 1/2 x 2 5/8 (7) 7/16
Square, LTC, Amber, Yellow, Green, and Yellow olive, Applied mouth, Very rare
A Western Brand.
Label: Von Humboldt’s Celebrated German Bitters will cure liver complaint, jaundice, dyspepsia, debility, chronic diarrhoea, weakness of the nerves, and all diseases arising from a disordered liver or stomach, such as acidity of the stomach, biliousness, constipation, colic, determination of the blood to the head, eructations of wind, fullness and oppression to the stomach, fluttering at the heat, headache, heartburn, loss of appetite, lowness of spirits, nausea, pain in the side and shoulder, piles, unpleasant dreams, yellowness of the skin and eyes etc.

Support: Secondary Bottle Example: 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

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