McKeever’s Army Bitters

Provenance: Ferdinand Meyer V Collection

The McKeever’s Army Bitters is somewhat of a mystery as we do not know who put out the bitters or where it was made. No secondary embossing, no advertising, no trade cards, no label, or any of the other clues or ephemera that usually helps in telling the story of a bottle.

We do know that this bottle is a favorite with collectors with its great eye appeal and shelf presence. The proprietor and bottle maker would have been making reference to the Civil War which should have dominated all thought of the day.

The figural bottle form is a round strapped drum with stacked cannonballs on top that sit on the drum and top out at the bottom of a tall neck bisected by a pronounced ring. There is an applied long tapered collar. ‘McKEEVER’S ARMY BITTERS’ is embossed horizontally on the top band of the drum. The neck and mouth are centered reminding you of a cannon. The bottle always comes in shades of amber, some cruder than others and some have variations in amber coloration that is pleasing to the eye such as our museum example.

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

M 58 // u // McKEEVER’S ARMY BITTERS //
10 ½ x 3 3/8 x (4)
Round drum, LTC, Amber, LTC, Applied mouth, Scarce

Support: Reference to Bitters Bottles by Carlyn Ring and W. C. Ham. Use of McKeever Army Bitters illustration courtesy Bill Ham.

Support Image: Lot 112: “McKeever’s Army Bitters” Figural Bottle, America, 1860-1880. Cylindrical drum form with stacked cannonballs, medium amber, applied sloping collared mouth – smooth base, ht. 10 1/2 inches. R/H #M-58 Crisp mold impression. A scarce bottle in an appealing form. Fine condition. Ex Dr. Burton Spiller collection. – Norman Heckler, Norman C. Heckler Auctions

Support Image: Lot 16: McKeever’s Army Bitters” Figural Bottle, America, 1860-1880. In the form of a drum with stacked cannon balls, medium amber, applied sloping collared mouth – smooth base, ht. 10 1/4 inches; (just a hint of light exterior high point wear). R/H #M-58 A popular Civil War era figural bitters bottle. Rare. Fine condition. – Norman Heckler, Norman C. Heckler Auctions

Support Image: McKeever’s Army Bitters – Mike Dickman collection.

Support Image: Regulation Civil War Eagle Drum of the 14th U.S. Infantry. The 14th was constantly engaged with the Army of the Potomac from 2d Bull Run to Weldon Railroad. – Heritage Auctions

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