RUSSAK'S 'IWAN' RUSSIAN BITTERS
Hello Digger, I was wondering if you know anything at all about
this bottle. I will attach several photo's of it. I found it in a 3 foot deep
privy / dump area in South Bend Indiana. I have had several people say it may be
from Russia or possibly from Australia. I think it is a bitters bottle. Most
everyone says it appears to be a rare one. I hope you can guide me in the right
direction with this one. It has a whole lot of us baffled. Thanks for any
thoughts. Jim Wolff
Okay James, you owe me big time for this one. I did find evidence that your bottle is a bitters. Here's the story.
The Centennial International Exhibition, was held in Melbourne, Australia beginning in August of 1888. it had been held eight years earlier on the same site in 1880-1881. The same organization held the Exhibition in London in 1851. The Centennial International Exhibition was a display of international exhibits with all the leading nations of the world invited to attend. The 1888 Melbourne event was attended by French, German, New Zealand, Fiji, Scandinavia, and English companies. Among the German exhibitors werre some famous bottle names like J. A.Gilka, specializing in liqueurs and Kummel that exported all over the world; Mr. Hoff of Hamburg maker of Johann Hoff's malt extract; Hartwig Kantorowicz of Posen well known maker of bitters and liqueurs. David Kantorowicz, also of Posen well known maker of "spirits in bottles"; T. Ripke, trustee of Dr. theodor Meinhard), Hamburg maker of Dr. Theordor Meinhard's 'Amargo de Bolivar Bitters' and Joseph Russak, a Jewish businessman of Kosten, Posen, maker of "Iwan" the best Russian table bitters; and also "Parade-Bitter" a fine dissert liqueur. Russak was also a dealer in beer. The agent in Australia for these products was Pfaff, Pinschof & Co., 13 Flinder-lane W., Melbourne.
Now if we make an assumption that the Exhibitions listed on the face of your bottle are in chronological order and we know that they were held every eight years or so my research indicates the Berlin Industrial Exhibition was, I believe in 1896. Clearly your bottle could not pre-date that time.
I cannot read the cities or embossing below Berlin so I can assume your bottle is 1900 or later. I would also think it might have been imported from Australia but more likely they just used the same or similar container and exported from Germany before World War I. It is hard to image the bottle dates before 1900 or after about 1913. That the bottle is not machine made is not an isssue since foreign bottles often were made in the older style much later than in this country.
As to the value of your bottle, I think it might
be a good one and marketable to many bitters collectors. But it lacks the
product name and so my guess is the value might be $40-80.
Above are two examples of Hartwig Kantorowicz Bitters. Note the gold medals shown on the label. these represent the medals from the various Exhibitions in which the product was displayed.