Artifact of the Week: Stomach Bitters Bottle

Archaeologists recovered this Dr. J. Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters bottle from Downtown San Diego. The site housed a working class population during the late Victorian period (c.1880-1915).

Dr. J. Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters emerged on the market in 1853 and sold as a medicinal tonic. Hostetter insisted that his secret formula gained its potency from its herbal ingredients – the 47 percent alcohol was simply the best vehicle to deliver the remedy.

“Just one bottle creates an appetite, forces off impure bile, and purifies the system.” – From an 1856 newspaper ad. But is one was good, two were better. “Two bottles cures bad livers and lends strength and cheerfulness.”

During the Civil War, Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters were delivered to Union Troops, who knew it as “The Soldier’s Safeguard.”After the war, over 6,000 bottles of Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters were sold daily in the United States and abroad.

Date: Post-Contact Period (300 ya – present)
Material Class: Glass

Want to learn more? Visit the exhibit Block 112: The Untold Story of San Diego’s Working Class in the 1800s currently on view at the Center.