The 49er – Chenoweth & Tobin


American Life Bitters

Peter & Iler & Company Tiffin Ohio & Omaha, Nebraska

Here is a really great looking rectangular figural bitters cabin with a curved roof rather than angular like most cabin bitters. The American Life Bitters is pretty tough to obtain and there are two variants.

For the most part, this bottle story is about the inventor, Peter E. Iler who was born in Wooster, Ohio in 1840. He eventually ended up in Omaha, Nebraska. His famous bitters have either the Tiffin, Ohio or Omaha, Nebraska embossing.

As a youth, he and his brother, Joseph, moved to Tiffin, Ohio. At the age of sixteen, he left school to go to work. A that point accounts differ. One version has him leaving Tiffin in the employ of an Indianapolis banker and soon being given management of several farms and a princely salary of $75 a month. After becoming ill, he quit and returned to Tiffin to recuperate. The other account has him never leaving Tiffin, employed in a bank, working with a cigar manufacturer and as a warehouse operator.

The stories converge about 1860 in Tiffin when Iler became a wagon peddler selling a bitters nostrum that he advertised.

Iler eventually became a multi-millionaire who built the nation’s third largest pre-prohibition distillery as well as financing other major business enterprises. His building was described as follows:

“Mr. P. E. Iler, has erected a very handsome four-story brick block, sixty-six feet front and 182 feet, on the north side of Harney street, nearly opposite the Millard Block, between Eleventh and Twelfth streets. The front is of cut stone and pressed brick, the architectural appearance of which is very handsome. The building has water connections throughout, and is supplied with hydraulic elevators. It was built especially for wholesale business, the west twenty-two feet being occupied as a wholesale liquor establishment, and the east forty-four feet being occupied by a wholesale hardware firm. Each is provided with commodious and elegant business offices. The cost of the building was $40,000. The firm of Iler & Co. is now composed of Peter E. Iler and Joseph D. Iler.”

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

A 48  American Life Bitters (Omaha, Nebraska)

8 7/8 x 3 1/8 x 2 1/2 (5 3/4)
Rectangular cabin, LTC, Applied mouth, Amber, Extremely rare

A 49  American Life Bitters (Tiffin, Ohio)

AMERICAN LIFE ( au ) / BITTERS ( ad ) // P.E. ILER ( au ) / MANUFACTURER / TIFFIN, OHIO // AMERICAN LIFE / BITTERS // f // 8 7/8 x 3 1/8 x 2 1/2 (5 3/4)
Rectangular cabin, LTC, Applied mouth, Amber and Gold Rare, Yellow olive, Extremely rare

Read More: Peter Iler: “The Restless Mind of a Capitalist”

Read More: Log Cabin Series – American Life Bitters

Spinner: American Life Bitters (Tiffin, Ohio). Extremely rare and possibly unique in color. Ex: Carlyn Ring – Sandor P. Fuss Collection

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