Bennet’s Wild Cherry Stomach Bitters

Provenance: Richard T. Siri Collection

Bennet’s Wild Cherry Stomach Bitters put out by Chenery, Souther & Co. is a very rare San Francisco western square that predates the rare Bennet’s Celebrated Wild Cherry Bitters that was just put out by Souther, as Chenery had departed the relationship.

Found in amber, old amber, and reddish amber, the bottle lettering reads in an interesting and unusual arched copy from base to shoulder on the “Bennet’s Wild Cherry Stomach Bitters” name panel and from shoulder to base on the reverse “Chenery, Souther & Co. Sole Agent” panel. The bottle has an applied mouth and can be found with an abundance of glass character.

Richard Chenery

Richard Chenery had a long and notable career in San Francisco, being an early pioneer in mercantile pursuits, steamboat enterprises, railroads, and politics. He was born in Montague, Franklin County, Massachusetts in 1817 and was educated in the academic and private schools at Amherst, Greenfield, and Northfield Massachusetts. Chenery lived three years in New York City, seven years in Wisconsin, and four in Northampton, Massachusetts. His wife was the daughter of the former governor of Maine, William George Crosby.

Chenery then became one of the many adventurous easterners who migrated west in search of California gold. He arrived in San Francisco on the brig Acadian on August 14, 1849. By 1852, he had developed into a successful businessman and was an Alderman for the City of Sacramento, California. When he was offered the job of Mayor, he declined but was, however, elected Treasurer.

Chenery soon became the head of a number of successful businesses in San Francisco and in 1861 was one of the mounted guards who escorted President Lincoln to the Capitol at the time of his inauguration. Shortly after, Chenery was appointed U.S. Naval Agent for the Port of San Francisco.

When his term ended in 1865, Chenery entered into a partnership with Joseph N. Souther as a wholesale liquor dealer. Souther previously worked at the U.S. Mint Branch in San Francisco, starting in 1862.

Initially, Chenery, Souther & Co. was listed as Importers and Jobbers of Wines and Liquors located at 311 Clay Street, near Front Street in San Francisco according to a San Francisco directory listing in 1869. Later they would move to 215 and 217 California Street. They specialized in Cedar Run and C. & S. Bourbon Whiskey. Later advertising promoted that they were the Sole Agents for Dr. Abernethy’s Green Ginger Brandy and Vanity Fair, Granger, and Saffell’s Cedar Run Bourbon Whiskeys.

Not too long after, Chenery and Souther purchased the rights to the Bennet’s Wild Cherry Stomach Bitters product from Henry Bennet. Bennet had been in the syrups, cordial, and medicines business in San Francisco since the early 1850s. An 1865 listing reads, “Henry W. Bennet, drugs, and medicines, 21 Third cor. Stevenson” in the 1865 San Francisco City Directory. Apparently, Chenery and Souther did not pay very much for Bennet’s brand, as Bennet eventually died broke.

After terminating the Chenery & Souther partnership in 1875, Chenery invested heavily in mining but returned to the east coast in 1880, where he remained until his death in Belfast, Maine, on July 27, 1890.

Joseph Souther remained in the liquor business under the banner Joseph N. Souther & Co. At this point, the later Bennet’s Celebrated Stomach Bitters was produced in an amber square and was made and sold up until 1890 or so. An example of the bitters can be seen at the San Francisco and Pacific Glass Works display at the 1879 San Francisco Mechanics Exposition.

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

B 74 BENNET’S ( au ) / WILD CHERRY / STOMACH BITTERS ( ad ) // f // CHENERY, SOUTHER & CO. ( au ) / SOLE AGENTS / SAN FRANCISCO, CAL. ( ad ) // f //
9 x 3 (6 5/8) 3/8
Square, Amber, LTCR, Applied mouth, Very rare
Lettering reads base to shoulder on brand name panel
Reverse reads shoulder to base as is usual.
Example found on the surface of Mount Rose near Reno.

9 x 2 ¾ (6 7/8) 3/8
Square, Amber, LTCR, Tooled lip and Applied mouth, Rare
Lettering reads base to shoulder on brand name panel, Reverse reads shoulder to base as is usual.
Note: San Francisco Business Directory 1880, 1885 and 1890

Primary Image: Bennet’s Wild Cherry Stomach Bitters bottle imaged by the FOHBC Virtual Museum midwest studio by Alan DeMaison.

Support: Reference to Bitters Bottles by Carlyn Ring and W. C. Ham. Use of Bennet’s Wild Cherry Stomach Bitters bottle illustration courtesy of Bill Ham.

Support: Primary research by Eric McGuire.

Support Images: Bennet’s Celebrated Stomach Bitters from the Ferdinand Meyer V collection. American Bottle Auctions, Grapentine III Auction 43, Lot #874

Support Image: BENNETT’S WILD CHERRY STOMACH BITTERS with CHENERY, SOUTHER & CO SOLE AGENTS SAN FRANCISCO CAL. B 74 Applied top. There are two variants of this scarce bitters, this example with the curved embossing is considered rarer than the other variant. Nice orange color, decent crudity, and about perfect. Grades an 8.5 – Jeff Wichmann, American Bottle Auctions, Auction 70, Part 1 of the Don Dwyer Collection

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