DRAKE’S PLANTATION BITTERS

$125.00 ON HOLD

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 2021-471

Tall amber bottle molded in the form of a narrow log cabin with central chimney. “Patented 1862” on front roof over door. “ST / DRAKE / 1860 / PLANTATION / X / BITTERS” on rear roof. 10 inches tall; 2.5 inches wide at base. Nice color and no damage. A native of Binghamton, NY, P.H. Drake devised and marketed the formula, patented the log cabin shaped bottle in 1862, and went into business with Demas Barnes, a wholesaler and distributor of patent medicines in NY City. They were in business together as Drake & Co. until 1876, when Drake formed P.H. Drake Company. He died in 1883, but the company lasted for many years thereafter.

Billed as a “vegetable restorative,” it escaped liquor taxes despite having an alcohol content of something over 30 percent, and was one of the most successful bitters formulas marketed in the patent medicine craze that lasted until about 1900 (though some would argue it is going still.) Needless to say, with that much alcohol in it, you might very well believe for a time it had cured whatever ailed you. The bitters trade flourished into the 1880s and others created knock-offs of the log cabin bottle. Given the use of the word “plantation” and evocation of a slave cabin in the shape of the bottle, Drake was plainly catering to the faux-nostalgia of the antebellum era, a popular advertising motif. These bottles have a number of mold variations and are interesting from a historical, medical, and social-history point of view.  [sr] [ph:m]

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