Boerhave’s Electro Chemical Aroma
Boerhave’s Electro Chemical Aroma
Louis A. D’israels Amsterdam
B. Page Jr. Pittsburgh
Benjamin Page, Jr., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Rectangular Aquamarine Medicine
Provenance: Chip Cable Collection
Our Boerhaves Electro Chemical Aroma bottle is the predecessor of Boerhaves Holland Bitters. The consignor sold this example years ago and was always sorry he did. There are two known examples, and both were dug; one in Pittsburgh and one in Ohio. The consignor owned both at separate times and got this museum example back from a Jim Hagenbuch Glass Works Auctions sale. He knew it was the same bottle by the way the pontil was made.
The 7 ¾ inch tall, extremely rare Boerhaves Electro Chemical Aroma bottle was probably blown at a Pittsburgh district glasshouse. It is aquamarine, rectangular with beveled corners, and has embossed sans serif copy set within three recessed chamfered panels. This copy reads from shoulder to base ‘BOERHAVES ELECTRO (top line) and ‘CHEMICAL AROMA’ (bottom line). The first side panel reads ‘LOUIS A DISRAELS’ (top line) and ‘AMSTERDAM’ (bottom line). The opposite side panel is embossed ‘B. PAGE, JR. PITTSBURGH’ in one line. The “R” in “Jr” is smaller, raised, and has two dots beneath. The neck is very tall, with an oversized applied ring collar with a bevel mouth. There is a blowpipe pontil scar.
Holland Bitters or Boerhave’s Electro-Chemical Aroma or Genuine Holland Bitters was sold by the Drug and Chemical House of Benjamin Page Jr. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the early 1850s. Advertising said the product was from “Louis D’Israels, Chemist and Pharmaceutist of Amsterdam, the only Manufacturer. A purely Vegetable Compound, prepared on strictly scientific principles, after the manner of the celebrated Holland professor Boerhave.”
Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738) was a Dutch physician, botanist, professor and Rector Magnificus (Chancellor) at Leiden University. He is regarded as the founder of clinical teaching and the modern academic hospital and is sometimes referred to as “the father of physiology.” In the 18th century, Boerhaave was renowned even in China for how he practiced and taught medicine. Not only did Herman Boerhaave discover many new things, but he was also an inspiring teacher. He advocated for “teaching at the bed” and autopsy and took his students on a journey through the world of medicine. Even Tsar Peter the Great attended one of his lectures. After his death, historians and advertisers dropped one “a” from his last name, so Boerhaave became Boerhave in many instances. Various Boerhave medicines were sold in London in the late 1700s and the early 1800s, like Boerhave’s Extract (1793), Boerhave’s Digestive and Biliqus (sic) Tincture (1803) and Dr. Boerhave’s Red Pill (1823).
See the museum example of a western Dr. Boerhaave’s Stomach Bitters.
In the 1850s, Pittsburgh newspaper and city directory advertising stated that the product had great success in the European States and that the introduction to the United States was intended for those of the fatherland that were “scattered here and there over the face of this mighty country.” Holland Bitters was a remedy for dyspepsia, kidney disease, liver complaint, weakness of any kind, fever and ague, plus a whole group of other ailments. This broad claim is typical of most bitters from this period. The medicine sold for $1.00 or six bottles for $5.00. Agents like T. W. Dyott & Sons (Philadelphia), Barnes & Park (New York), and Laughlin & Bushfield (Wheeling, Virginia) were selling Holland Bitters in those cities and regions.
Benjamin Page Jr. was born in Missouri in about 1830 and found himself in Pittsburgh at the young age of 21, practicing as a druggist in 1850. During the decade’s first half, he would develop Boerhaves Electro Chemical Aroma or Holland Bitters. When Page entered the United States Navy in 1862, he sold his interest in the business, leaving no record of subsequent owners. He died very young in Philadelphia in 1874. Boerhaves Holland Bitters would continue to be sold by various proprietors like R. E. Sellers & Co., who prepared, sold, and advertised Boerhave’s Holland Bitters on trade cards in the early 1870s. The remedy continued to enjoy some appeal even after the turn of the century, as it could be found on a laundry list of pharmaceutical products in 1904.
Primary Image: Boerhave’s Electro Chemical Aroma bottle imaged on location by Alan DeMaison, FOHBC Virtual Museum Midwest Studio.
Support: Auction Lot 268: “BOERHAVES ELECTRO / CHEMICAL AROMA – LOUIS A. DISRAEL’S / AMSTERDAM – B. PAGE JR. PITTBURGH”, probably a Pittsburgh district glasshouse, 1850 – 1860. Aquamarine, rectangular with beveled corners, applied ring collar with bevel – blowpipe pontil scar, ht. 7 ¾”; (lightly cleaned to original luster and near mint condition with just a touch of minor haze remaining). Odell, p.36. Extremely rare, unique, or possibly one of two known. Gary Enters collection. Note; although it is from the same company that produced the “BOERHAVE’S HOLLAND BITTERS”, we could find no listing for this product. – John Pastor, American Glass Gallery, Auction #21
Support Image: Auction Lot 189: “BOERHAVES / HOLLAND BITTERS – B. PAGE JR & CO – PITTSBURGH PA”, (B-134), Pennsylvania, ca. 1860 – 1870, bluish aqua, 7 5/8”h, smooth base, applied double collar mouth, 98% original label, the bottle is perfect. Possibly the only known example to have the original label! – Jim Hagenbuch, Glass Works Auctions, February 2012
Support Image: BOERHAVES HOLLAND BITTERS B. PAGE Jr. & CO. PITTSBURGH Pa. – (B 134). 7 ¾” with applied top and smooth base. An early bottle, the Boerhave name is not unknown in bottle circles. This is a neat one with the huge top, long neck and loads of whittle and crudity in a bluish aqua. A lot going on in 7 ¾”. The base looks very early. A tiny bit of exterior stain but generally, a grade 9.4 bottle. Check out the funky embossing. – Jeff Wichmann, American Bottle Auctions, For Sale Page, February 2015
Support Image: BOERHAVES HOLLAND BITTERS B. PAGE Jr. & CO. PITTSBURGH Pa. – (B 134). Blueish aquamarine, 7 7/8”, smooth base, applied double collar mouth. A scarce bottle with nicely whittled glass. GWA Auction #76, Lot 234. – Ferdinand Meyer V collection.
Support: Reference to Bitters Bottles Supplement 3 draft by Ring, Ham & Meyer.
Support: Reference to Looking at Boerhave’s Holland Bitters – Pittsburgh, Peachridge Glass, February 2015
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