J. B. Holman, Prop / Holman’s Nature Grand Restorative / Boston, Mass.

Provenance: Michael George Collection

Our display example of an olive-amber Holman’s Nature’s Grand Restorative medicine bottle is both extremely rare and a top specimen. The rectangular form bottle is 6-5/8″ tall, has chamfered sides, and is embossed ‘HOLMAN’S NATURES GRAND RESTORATIVE’ on the front panel, and ‘J. B. HOLMAN PROP.’ on the left side panel. The right side panel is embossed ‘BOSTON MASS.’ The blank back panel would have been where a paper label might have been placed. There is an applied square lip band collar and a pontil scar. A prominent “Skinner” auction sticker is on the base.

Holman’s Nature’s Grand Restorative was first advertised by Dr. Charles Holman who was born in 1782. In 1836, Dr. Holman’s practice was located at Nos. 9 & 10 Penhallow-street, in Portsmouth, N.H. His brother was Calvin Holman (1780-1845) who was the father of J. B. Holman, the name embossed on our subject bottle. The two brothers were associated with “discovering” and selling Nature’s Grand Restorative which was their primary brand. They were also selling, Holman’s Bone Ointment, Itch Ointment, Vegetable Elixir, Fine Slippery Elm-For Poultices, Superfine Powder of Elm Bark, Dr. Holman’s Cough Syrup, Vegetable Bitters, Holman’s Drops for Fits, Holman’s Essence of Cayenne, Dr. Holman’s Cough Powder and Dr. Holman’s Jaundice Powders.

A later J. B. Holman advertisement from 1847 in Boston stated that the restorative medicine had been available twenty years prior which would put the compound origins at 1827 or so. The Holman brothers thought so highly of the medicinal benefits that they took the medicine to the public both retail and wholesale. Eventually, Calvin’s son Joshua took over the brand in 1847. Both Calvin and Charles had passed by then.

Joshua Bailey Holman was born on October 13, 1813. He was the son of Calvin Holman and Esther Putney (Bailey) Holman of Hopkinton, Merrimack, New Hampshire. Holman would move to Boston, Massachusetts, and become a merchant from 1835 to 1857. He was married to Sarah Lewis Dudley in 1858. Joshua was the proprietor responsible for having the bottles made at a Stoddard glasshouse in Stoddard, New Hampshire. He was advertising the Holman’s Nature’s Grand Restorative widely in New England from his No. 70 Cornhill, Boston, Mass. address. The advertisements would take up an entire column in a newspaper and use testimonials from many of Holman’s associates and important citizens of the city.

J. B. Holman said his vegetable medicine would cure “dyspepsia or indigestion, diseased liver, jaundice, billious (sic) cholic, costiveness, loss of appetite, asthma, billious (sic) disorders, worms, nervous complaints, pain in the side, bleeding at the stomach, colds and coughs of long standing, hoarseness, shortness of breath, sea sickness, &c., &c.”

Joshua B. Holman was also responsible for Holman’s Restorative Bitters which is represented by the Bitters Bottles Supplement listing sH 152.5. No examples are extant as they could have been a labeled bitters, embossed, or both. It’s quite possible that Holman’s Nature’s Grand Restorative carried various paper labels targeting the many ailments noted in advertising. The same concoction would have been used for every ailment.

J. B. Holman, a devout Methodist, would become an ordained deacon, by Bishop Hedding, in Boston, on August 2, 1844; and later by Bishop Waugh, at Worcester, Mass., on April 9, 1848. During these years he was a local preacher in Boston and surrounding areas from 1844 to 1856. He moved from Boston and was admitted to the New Hampshire Conference in 1856 and had appointments in Sandwich and Moultonborough in 1856 and 1857; Warren and Wentworth, 1858; Canaan, 1859-60; Sahnon Falls, 1861; Methuen, Mass., 1862; Methuen, Mass., and Pelham, 1863; Hampshire, etc. Reverend Joshua Bailey Holman would remain a clergyman up until his death on March 10, 1897, in Concord, New Hampshire.

Primary Image: Holman’s Nature’s Grand Restorative medicine bottle imaged on location by the FOHBC Virtual Museum midwest studio led by Alan DeMaison.

Support Image: Auction Lot 208: “HOLMAN’S / NATURES GRAND / RESTORATIVE/ J.B. HOLMAN, PROP. / BOSTON MASS.” America, 1845-1855. Aquamarine, rectangular with beveled corners, applied square collar, blowpipe pontil scar, ht. 6 3/4″, near mint; (a shallow 1 1/4 wide pontil flake extends to the edge of the base; a touch of very minor, spotty interior milkiness in the shoulder, otherwise startling clean). A nice example having crude glass and a perfect square collar. – John Pastor, American Glass Gallery, Auction #14

Support Images: Auction Lot 143: “Holman’s / Natures Grand / Restorative / J.B. Holman, Prop. / Boston Mass.” Medicine Bottle, a Stoddard glasshouse, Stoddard, New Hampshire, 1846-1860. Rectangular with wide beveled corners, bright yellow olive with an amber tone, applied square collared mouth – pontil scar, ht. 6 3/4 inches. AAM pg. 242. A wonderful example with brilliant glass, bold embossing and no wear. Fine condition. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #167

Support Image: Museum example when photographed and auctioned by Skinner. Olive-Amber “HOLMAN’S NATURE’S GRAND RESTORATIVE” Bottle, “J.B. Holman Prop. Boston, Mass.,” rectangular form with chamfered sides, applied squared lip band, embossed vertical labels, pontil scar, ht. 6 5/8 in.  – Skinner, American Furniture & Decorative Arts, Auction 2444, February 15, 2009, Boston, Mass.

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