Cannon Bitters

Provenance: Ferdinand Meyer V Collection

The so-called ‘Cannon Bitters’ bottle name is presumed or made up as there is no embossed copy on the bottle and the proprietor is unknown. This could change so we will use this Cannon Bitters placeholder name and will wait for a labeled example to be found or some new research that uncovers this missing information.

There are many references to various brands of Cannon Bitters in the mid to late 19th century. We go back to 1842 and see a notice about a Cannon’s Vegetable Bitters in Washington, D.C. A few years later, T. W. Dyott, out of Philadelphia, was selling a Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters in 1850 in Charleston, South Caroline. Dr. Cannon’s Bitters was sold for only one year in Tiffin, Ohio, and William M. Cannon sold his Cannon’s Dyspeptic and Cannon’s Non-Alcoholic Bitters for many years from his Washington, D.C. address. There is even an extremely rare Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters made by a William Morrow in Washington, D.C. followed by a Cannon’s Indian Vegetable Bitters prepared by Charles Stott & Co., manufacturers, and proprietors, No. 480 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Not too far away, Seth S. Hance addressed at 108 Baltimore Street in Baltimore City was prominently advertising Cannon’s Bitters from 1867 to 1876. This could be our bottle but we have no evidence to back it up.

The bottle is really something to behold. It is a traditional square form which is simple enough. It gets complex when you look at the four faces of the bottle and see embossed cannons on three faces in opposite horizontal alignment, vertically stacked cannonballs on two opposite corners, a vertical cannon ramrod tool on opposite corners, crossed swords on all four top shoulder panels, and a pyramid fort with a flag above a shortened flat panel area for where the label would have been placed. This complex mold was perfectly executed to create one of the most exciting Civil War-era American bottles ever made.

As noted previously, the bottle is not embossed with the word ‘Bitters’ nor is there any support material to confirm that it was a bitters. We can say with a high degree of certainty that it is a bitters container and offer similar theme bitters bottles like the McKeever’s Army Bitters or the General Scott’s Artillery Bitters as support. Many bitters proprietors associated themselves with Civil War themes and all of the maladies of the day. They sold their dubious concoctions, spiked with alcohol as a medicine just as bold as the liquor man sold his whiskey to a saloon.

The updated listing in Bitters Bottles Supplement 3 is as follows:

C 33 Cannon Bitters (Presumed Name)
Embossed Square with Cannons and Cannonballs
10 x 2 7/8 (6 ¼) ½
There is no embossed copy on this bottle.
Square with embossed cannons on three faces in opposite horizontal alignment, vertically stacked cannonballs on two opposite corners, a vertical cannon ramrod tool on opposite corners, crossed swords on all four top shoulder panels, and a pyramid fort with a flag above a shortened flat area for where a label would go.
Amber, LTC, Applied mouth, Extremely rare
Presumed to be related to Cannon’s Dyspeptic Bitters but not authenticated. No labeled example exists or advertising to confirm the relationship.
See C 33 in Bitters Bottles, sC 33, s2C 33, s2p51 and s2p290 and s3C 33

Read More: Cannon’s Bitters Study & Timeline – Washington, D.C. on Peachridge Glass

Support: Reference to Bitters Bottles, Bitters Bottles Supplement, and Bitters Bottles Supplements 2 by Carlyn Ring, Bill Ham and Ferdinand Meyer V. Use of Cannon Bitters illustration courtesy Bill Ham.

Support Images: Secondary pictures of Cannon Bitters from Jim Hagenbuch and Glass Works Auctions.

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