The Fish Bitters – Yellow Olive

Provenance: Ferdinand Meyer V Collection

Bottle collectors are a little like fishermen when it comes to telling stories. At any get together of bottle collectors you’ll hear fish tales about the ones that got away, whether it be the broken $1,000 bottle found in the last privy dig or the $500 missed opportunity at a recent auction on eBay. This story is a real fish tale. It is about fish bottles. Fish bottles or flasks are ancient in conception with specimens of glass figures of fish being found as early as 1500 BC. Given the importance of fish in many cultures, it is not surprising that they would be represented in glass as well as other arts. [Digger Odell]

The first person to use a fish-shaped bottle was W. H. Ware, who patented the design in 1866. He used the container for his “Doctor Fischs Bitters.” The story is that the recipe for Fish Bitters was obtained from a Dr. Gottlieb of Berlin, Prussia. Bitters were advertised throughout the 1870-1880s for dyspepsia, general debility, loss of appetite, and as an antidote to alcohol, even though bitters contained large amounts of alcohol itself.

Most Fish Bitters are various shades of amber (golden yellow-amber, tobacco-amber, orange-amber, medium and dark-amber, and reddish-amber) which usually sell in the price range of $300 to $800 depending on the condition of the bottle. The rarer Fish Bitters are those in the colors of aqua, clear, yellow-green, and reddish puce, and the prize of all is cobalt blue. The bitters bottle is cataloged as F 44 (Doctor Fischs Bitters), F 45 (The Fish Bitters with centered mouth) and F 46 (The Fish Bitters with off-centered mouth). They come in a stunning array of colors.

Read more: The Fish Bitters – Cobalt Blue

Read more: Looking at Dr. Gottlieb Fisch’s Bitters and The Fish Bitters

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

F 44 DOCTOR ( ad ) // FISCHS BITTERS ( ad ) // W.H. WARE / PATENTED 1866 //
11 ¾ x 3 5/8 x 2 3/8
Fish, Applied mouth and Rolled Lip, Amber – Common; Aqua, Clear – Very rare
Label: On bevel or stomach a picture of a fish with details in German and English.
Drug Catalogs: 1876-77 and 1880 Goodwin
In 1922, Eli Lilly & Company began using the blown glass fish bottle for cod liver oil and continued its use until 1933. The bottles were manufactured by the Fairmont Glass Company of Indianapolis. The bottles were produced in four sizes: one pint (10″ long), one-half pint (8 ½″ long), 4 oz (6 ¼″ long) and a salesman bottle (3″ long) which was not filled but used as an empty sample.

F 45 THE ( ad ) / FISH BITTERS ( ad ) // W.H. WARE ( ad ) /
PATENTED 1866 ( au ) //

Ware & Schmitz 3 & 5 Granite Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
11 ½ x 3 5/8 x 2 ½
Fish, Applied mouth and Rolled Lip, Amber – Common; Aqua, Clear, Yellow, Green, Yellow olive, Lime green and Reddish puce – Very Rare; Cobalt – Extremely Rare Label: Prepared from the recipe of Dr. Gottlieb of Berlin, Prussia. An unequaled beverage and appetizer invaluable for dyspepsia, general debility, languor, loss of appetite, and any complaint requiring a tonic bitters. Free from the deleterious effects of alcoholic drinks, for which it is an antidote. It is prompt in action, palatable to the taste, and bracing and invigorating in its effects upon both the body and mind.

F 46 THE ( ad ) / FISH BITTERS ( ad ) // W.H. WARE ( ad ) /
PATENTED 1866 ( au ) // // b // W.H. WARE / PATENT 1866

Ware & Schmitz 3 & 5 Granite Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
11 3/8 x 3 ¾ x 2 ½
Fish, Mouth off-center, Applied mouth, and Rolled Lip, Scales like cobble-stones,
Amber-Scarce; Clear – Rare; Aqua – Extremely rare, Cobalt Blue – Extremely rare
Fish, Mouth off-center, Applied mouth, and Rolled Lip, Scales like cobble-stones, Amber-Scarce; Clear – Rare; Aqua – Extremely rare, Cobalt Blue – Extremely rare

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