Very early Dr. S.S. Fitch oval bottle in aqua glass with iron mold chill marks (aka whittle marks), simple squared collar as an applied finish and a blow pipe pontil (open or ring pontil) from the 1847 to 1853 period. The early and narrow seven year date range provenance assigned to this embossed bottle is what adds most to its desirability along with its clean condition and no damage. This narrow production range is verifiable and documented based on the 707 Broadway address and the Fitch’s businesses listings in old directories for in New York City.
This bottle was hand blown in a two piece bottom hinged iron mold that was not properly pre-heated before a gather of glass was placed in the mold for expanding by hand blowing to produce it. The end result produced a very rippled and hammered exterior surface that is frequently described as 'whittle marks' because of a long history of misunderstanding how bottle molds were used in the 1800s. That is, these mold marks should be called iron mold ‘chill marks’ to emphasize the actual causes behind the wavy and rippled glass surfaces. When iron bottle molds were not properly preheated, the hot glass would contract rapidly and unevenly after contact with the colder mold surface thus creating the rippled glass effect mistakenly called whittle marks. Bottle enthusiasts in the early to mid 20th century assumed that the rippled glass was due to using wood molds to form the bottles. Since examples of two piece bottom hinge iron molds from the 1800s still exist, the futility and impractical use of wood molds for commercial production needs no further consideration as an explanation or cause of ‘whittle marks’ on glass bottles. And as American glass factory competition escalated, customers and consumers preferred bottles and jars that did not distort their contents and instead provided a clean view of their contents. Eventually, quality control, preheating iron bottle molds, air venting and the use of fully automated systems to blow glass eliminated these imperfections.
The two piece iron mold used to form the oval body on this bottle was engraved with the customer’s name and address on one face and was left blank on the other face so that a paper label could be added that would identify the contents. Dr. Samuel Sheldon Fitch A.M., M.D. first operated out of 707 Broadway in New York city before moving to 714 Broadway by 1854 according to various city directories and published advertisements. Fitch’s medicines and cures with the 707 street number are less common than the 714 street number since Fitch continued in the medicinal business for several decades. In 1873, Fitch’s son joined his business and the firm continued as S.S. Fitch & Son. Exactly when it ceased business is currently unknown and if any viewer has that particular information, do drop me an email and kindly share what you may know, thanks, Doc.
Dr. Fitch produced many different alleged medicinal cures including the following specifically named Fitch’s remedies: an anti-dyspeptic, a heart corrector, a depurative, a nervine, a female cure, a pectoral expectorant, a pulmonary balsam, a pulmonary liniment, a medicinal cod liver oil, and a vermifuge (see Joseph K. Balwin’s Collector’s Guide to Patent and Proprietary Medicine Bottles of the Nineteenth century, published in 1973 by Thomas Nelson Inc., pages 181-182). And so a careful study of various Fitch bottles with different addresses and different company names ought to show clear transitions from crude applied lips on seamless necks and bottles that lack slug plates with blow pipe pontils, to snap case finished bottles lacking a pontil and having slug plate embossments along with mold seams running part way up their necks, to more elaborate hand blown molded bottles with air venting to aid production. Some variants may theoretically show up along this time sequence that have a bare iron pontil (improved pontil) when needed on the larger size Fitch bottles, but for now this is pure conjecture. The finishes (lips) should also capture technological improvements implemented by American glass makers and later Fitch bottles should exhibit turning striations on the lip and upper neck (and inside the lip/neck) from lipping tools.
The bottle listed here is considered among the earliest and most primitive of the Fitch bottles. It dates before 1850 and very well could be from 1847 or 1848. The bottom hinged two piece iron mold used to form the bottle stopped at the shoulder and the broad collared lip was formed separately and then applied to the neck after the neck was severed from the blow pipe. The glass blower used iron tools to meld the applied lip to the severed neck and these have left behind crude folds and imperfections on the exterior surface of the lip, collar and neck. And together with the iron mold chill marks, this bottle looks very primitive especially in comparison to older free blown bottles. The glass has bubbles and only the lettering of the embossed label attempt to look modern. Sometime in the 1870s, replaceable slug plates made bottle labeling and customized mold production less expensive for patent and proprietary manufacturers.
If you collect S.S, Fitch bottles or other American patent and proprietary medicines produced before 1860, then you may want to consider this bottle while it is still available. Finding another example of an early Dr. S.S. Fitch bottle in better condition than this one would be difficult today without traveling back in time and grabbing one out of an annealing oven as it was cooling down. And as always, this 160 to 170 year old bottle also comes with a full satisfaction guarantee or return it for a refund (see return policy below for full details, certain shipping costs & fees are nonrefundable).
SIZE & CONDITION: This bottle stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and has an oval base that measure 2 5/8 by 1 3/4 inches. The lip is about 1 1/16 inches wide (diameter) and has an inner opening of about 1/2 inches for a cork closure. The ring pontil has a maximum diameter of about 7/8 inches and an inner opening of about 7/16 inches. The condition of this bottle is excellent with no chips, cracks, hairlines, star cracks, haziness, stains, major scratches, repairs or restorations. There is some dust in the bottom of the bottle and a few light content rings (light stains) on the interior of the upper shoulder but nothing visually significant. This is wonderful early American medicinal bottle with precise provenance that is sure to capture interest and attention in most any setting. Of course, if the buyer is not 100% satisfied, then she/he may return this bottle for a refund (see our complete return policy noted below).
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