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Object Record

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Catalog Number 1999.048.022
Description J. Walker's Vinegar Bitters bottle recovered from City Centre Plaza, c.1849-1920. Bottle has a short neck that tapers out to cylindrical body. The ring-shaped rim shows evidence of early glass machine manufacture. The rim used to be sealed with corks closures. The bottle is colorless glass. The name "J. WALKER'S V B" impressed in a large circle at the base of the bottle. A 1 inches short narrow neck flares out 1 inch to a 6 inches cylindrical body.
Object Name Bottle, Medicine
Collection 3D - Containers
Title J. Walker's Vinegar Bitters bottle recovered from City Centre Plaza, c.1849-1920.
Date c. 1849-1920
Creator Walker, Dr. J
Role Manufacturer
Inscription Text "J. WALKER'S V B" (impressed in a large circle at the base of the bottle).
Provenance 20 boxes of archaeological material excavated from the City Centre Plaza site at 950 Main at Middlefield in Redwood City. Excavation for development, done by Basin Research Associates.
Notes “Dr.” Walker started his bitters business located at the corner of American and Channel Streets in Stockton, California. It was here that he concocted the mess which he called Vinegar Bitters. Apparently a Mrs. Brenton who had an interesting relationship with Walker, initially peddled the bottles out of a basket on various streets. Only a dozen years later, Walker is worth between one and three million dollars. “Dr.” Walker was not ungrateful and Mrs. Brenton became the face of Vinegar Bitters, although whether she contributed to the vinegar or the bitters to the composition does not appear.
While “Dr.” Walker devised his fermented Vinegar Bitters in San Francisco in 1849. Richard H. McDonald, a San Francisco druggist, promoted the medicine nationally, and went into partnership with John Campbell Spence to form R.H. McDonald & Company to produce and market it. This company had London, New York and San Francisco offices. Later Walker apparently moved to New York. Earlier he actually had Indians gather herbs in Knights Ferry and shipped to him in Stockton. He advertised his bitters ‘free from alcohol’ but used brandy as a preservative. He was struck by a locomotive and killed around 1877. His estate was valued at several million dollars.
Dimensions H-8.5 W-2.875 D-2.875 inches
Search Terms Archaeology
City Center Plaza
Redwood City
San Francisco
Walker, Joseph
Subjects Bitters
Bottle industry
People Walker,Joseph