Steinfelds French Cognac Bitters

I was recently going through some 19th century newspapers and other publications that I had not looked at in years.  One such paper was THE STAGE, a leaflet of several pages about the theater in New York City.  Perhaps it was a handout at theatrical productions.  I was looking at a November 1870 edition.

1870 ad for Steinfeld's Bitters

I was not expecting to find any advertisements that were antique bottle related, but much to my surprise did I find a big pitch for Steinfeld’s French Cognac Bitters. Of course! A medicinal bitters based on fine French brandy was in perfect company for the well-heeled theater crowd.

For bottle collectors, this is one rare find. Ring and Ham’s Bitters Bottles lists two different bottles, both of which carry a rare rating.  The first (S 185) is a plain cylinder  marked SST Patent on the shoulder with a eagle and crown medallion and the base is marked Steinfeld’s French Cognac Bitters.  Notes for this bottle suggests it was believed to be made earlier than the 1850s.

The other bottle (S 186) is an ornately decorated square bottle with grape vines along the corners and shingles on the shoulders.  It is found in amber and golden amber.  I searched auction records and found only 5 that have sold in the past 20+ years.  Several were listed as damaged.

It is interesting that a company which started around 1850, won a prize at a Paris Exhibition in 1867 and was still advertising in 1870 – 20 years in business?! – has so few bottles left in existence.

Where have they gone?

Below is a picture of the two Steinfeld bottles as shown in the Carlyn Ring/Bill HamBitters Bottle book.  Incidentally, if you have any interest at all in antique bottles or bitters bottles in specific, you NEED this book.  It is an incredibly comprehensive resource.

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