So what exactly is a SQUARE bottle? Quite simply, it is one with a body which has a square cross-section, or, in other words, it appears to be square when looking down on it from immediately above.
The square shape was adopted by many manufacturers of bitters. Perhaps it was precisely because of the great fame achieved by two such companies that so many felt compelled to imitate the form. Those two products are Lash Bitters and Hostetter Stomach Bitters. One might also include Electric Bitters in this short list, but the bottle is a bit different in that it has recessed panels.
The square bitters bottle is plain and simple utility. There are no fancy adornments in the molds and certainly economy was the word. The men behind these popular products were eager to sell their product in great quantity and reap the profits. Perhaps they knew that good days of selling high-alcohol content “remedies” would not last forever.
It is interesting to consider this bottle type in contrast to the many antique bitters bottles which are so fancy in form – bottles whose form defined the product, its desirable status and no doubt its expensive price tag.
Donald Yates (PDF file) has put together a good synopsis of this company (Bottles and Extras, Winter 2003) which was in operation in various holdings from 1850 to 1966. Interesting, it is a Western Bottle – the company began in California – before expanding to offices in Chicago and New York, and then consolidating in its final years in Passaic, New Jersey.
Other Square Bitters Bottles