Constitution Bitters

Provenance: David Sidelinger Collection

Here is an extraordinary rectangular Constitution Bitters in a medium pink amethyst or puce glass coloration. These bottles are typically found in shades of amber.

This Constitution Bitters brand (there is another figural bottle with the same name), we are dealing with Stephen B. Seward and Burr S. Bentley of Seward & Bentley in Buffalo, New York. There are also listings for Seward, Bentley & Cheney, Ward & Bentley, and Daniel Seward & Co., that show obvious changes in partnership and ownership later in the 1860s. Stephen Seward even got his start earlier than that as his name occurs as S. B. Seward in the late 1850s on bottles and advertising etc. When this bottle mold was produced, Cheney had not yet joined the firm.

The label reads, A.M. 1864 S.2. Prepared from a formula of an eminent physician and used for many years with wonderful success as a tonic, for the strengthening of the system, giving tone to the stomach and creating a healthy appetite. It has no equal.

What does “A.M.S.2.1864” stand for? It means, “All must surrender to Constitution Bitters” as noted in an advertisement in The Indiana Herald on Wednesday, August 19, 1868. It was not unusual for bitters proprietors to use cryptic alpha-numeric lettering on their bottles and in their marketing for the bitters product.

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

C222 & C 223 CONSTITUTION BITTERS A.M.S.2. ( au ) / 1864 // CONSTITUTION / BITTERS // A.M.S.2. ( au ) / 1864 // SEWARD & BENTLEY / BUFFALO, N.Y. //
9 ¼ x 2 7/8 x 2 ¼ (7 ¼) ¼
Rectangular, Amber, LTC, Applied mouth, 4 sp, Rare, Yellow-green, and Medium Pink Amethyst or Puce, Extremely rare
Label: A.M. 1864 S.2. (means All Must Surrender To Constitution Bitters)
Prepared from a formula of an eminent physician and used for many years with wonderful success as a tonic, for strengthening of the system, giving tone to the stomach and creating a healthy appetite. It has no equal.
1864 and 1866 Thomas’ Buffalo Business Directory: Seward & Bentley Druggist, 189 Main, Stephen B. Seward and Burr S. Bentley
1868 City Directory for Buffalo: Seward, Bentley & Cheney Druggist, 241 Main.
1877 Billhead: Edward J. Liebetrut, Druggist (formerly Seward & Liebetrut, formerly Seward & Co.)

Support Image: Lot 14: “A.M. S. 2 / 1864 – CONSTITUTION / BITTERS – SEWARD & BENTLEY / BUFFALO, N.Y.”, (Ring/Ham, C-223), New York, ca. 1865 – 1875, medium pink amethyst color, 9 1/4”h, smooth base, applied tapered collar mouth. Perfect condition. One of only two or three known to exist in amethyst, with the others being so dark a strong light is needed to see the color. That is not the case here, the color in this one explodes in normal lighting and is consistent throughout. This is the bottle that many bitters collectors have been waiting for to come to auction, some calling it the ‘holy grail’ of the Ballentine collection. Mary turned down many offers to buy it, some substantial, but to no avail. Identical in color to the gemstone it’s named after and the ’gem’ of the Ballentine collection. Mary Ballentine Collection. – Jim Hagenbuch, Glass Works Auctions | Auction #143

Support Images: Constitution Bitters in dark amber – John Pastor, American Glass Gallery | Auction 14. Example in yellow-olive courtesy Jim Hagenbuch, Glass Works Auctions.

Read More: The Constitution Bitters from Buffalo, NY

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