8" Brown glass fish bottle with markings are 609 F 6

I bought this bottle for just 10 dollars because I liked it. Can anyone tell me more about it?


  • The original fish-shaped bottle contained Dr. Fisch's Bitters - the bottle design was patented by a W. Ware in December 1866,

    There have been a number of similar bottles made in the 20th century...yours is the one that most resembles the original in my mind, but it is somewhat shorter. Some of the later bottles like yours contained cod liver oil.
  • Is there a way to ID it's age or manufacturer from the markings?
  • According to the late and great bottle researcher John Odell, these were made at Fairmount Glass Co. of Indiana in the 1920s.
  • I have this same bottle. Any idea of value? Thank you!

  • "They ain't The Fish or Doctor Fisch's bitters bottles but...


    Cecil Munsey

    COPYRIGHTED © 1970 & 1992

    "Even before the art of glass blowing was discovered in about 100 B.C.,

    artisans working with glass produced figural bottles. One of the earliest known

    bottles shaped like a fish was unearthed at Tell-El-Amarna, Egypt. Evidence

    indicates that this pre-blown bottle was buried between 1350 and 1375 B.C.

    "Throughout glass manufacturing history glassblowers have produced, and

    still do produce, fish-shaped bottles. In America perhaps the most popular of all

    fish-shaped bottles are ones patented in 1866 by W.H. Ware. These two 11 1/2"

    tall fish bottles were used for "DOCTOR FISCH'S BITTERS" and "THE FISH

    BITTERS." While both bottles are mostly found in shades of amber, the latter is

    found in other colors which are considered rare.

    "In 1922, 56 years after W.H. Ware brought his fish bottles to market, Eli

    Lilly & Company brought their version to market. Indeed, it was an inspiration of

    one of Ware's fish-shaped bottles, found in an antiques shop, that caused the Eli

    Lilly & Company one(s) to be produced.

    "In 1921, the Eli Lilly firm was using over 100 different bottles to contain its

    pharmaceutical products. It was suggested by Eli Lilly's wife, who had really

    taken a fancy to the then recently discovered fish-shaped bitters bottle of the

    1860s, that the old bottle be used as a model to manufacture a fish bottle for their

    'Lilly's pure Lofoten Cod Liver Oil.' The suggestion was taken and over an 11-

    year period (1922-1933), four basic sizes of the Eli Lilly Cod Liver Oil Fish bottle

    were produced and distributed.

    "The four fish-shaped bottles produced for Eli Lilly & Company were made

    of amber glass and measure 3", 6 1/4", 8 1/4", and 9 3/4". The first of the four to

    be made for the pharmaceutical firm was the 8 1/4" one; it was produced in 1922.

    The 3" miniature fish bottle was first produced in 1924 and never actually

    contained a product; it was used as a salesman's sample. The 9 3/4" bottle was

    also introduced in 1924. The 6 1/4" bottles was first manufactured in 1927.

    Between 1930 and 1933 at least two of the three largest of the Lilly fish bottles

    were produced with screw-on caps as a closure. The originals were all corksealed


    "The three largest of the Lilly fish bottles were manufactured by the

    Fairmont Glass Company if Indianapolis, Indiana. The miniature or salesman's

    sample bottle was manufactured by the T.C. Wheaton Company (now the

    Wheaton Glass Company) of Millville, New Jersey.

    "An early 1923 advertisement by Eli Lilly & Company which ran in a

    number of the trade journals of the time, called the new fish-shaped bottle a "Cod

    Bottle." The advertisement offered druggists, "Very attractive selling helps

    bearing your business card printed in type to match the text will be supplied for

    counter distribution, enclosing with packages, statements etc." The

    advertisements also mentions that the wholesale price of the 8 1/4" pint bottles

    filled with cod liver oil was $6.10 per dozen.

    "While the Lilly "Cod Bottles" were discontinued in 1933, the original molds

    of the three largest sizes were retained by the Fairmont Glass Company and

    ended up in the possession of Cedric C. Rau whose family owned and operated

    the Fairmont Glass Company.

    "Well, as the title of this piece maintains: they are collectible and always

    will be because of their fish shape. In the early 1970s the Eli Lilly "Cod Bottles"

    were selling for not much more than they are today.

    "Prices for the fish-shaped bottles blown in the molds developed in the

    1920s and 1930s for the Eli Lilly firm are not especially high for a number of

    reasons. Many thousands of the original bottles were manufactured and

    marketed by Eli Lilly & Company. As early as 1970 Cedric C. Rau had the

    6 1/4" bottle reproduced by the Imperial Glass Company in Bellaire, Ohio.

    "Sometime around 1980, after the first attempt at reproducing the 6 1/4" bottle, the

    other sizes (except for the 3" miniature salesman's sample) were reproduced by

    the Glass Containers Corporation which said they were "...pleased to present you

    with this unique series of bottles, made from the original molds, as a reminder

    that glass has wit as well as utility, and that the shape things are in has always

    mattered." The number of reproduced bottles in either run is not known. That

    has served to help keep the value of the reproduction Cod Bottles down to next

    to nothing -- I purchased two sets for $10 in 1989.

    "Collectors should note that the trick to identifying the bottles reproduced in

    the original molds seems to be in the closure area. The reproduction bottles

    have hand finished lips and in most cases the lip is flat instead of rounded as in

    the originals which were made by the Owens automatic blowing machine. The

    Owens machine produced a seam all the way to the top of the bottle's mouth as

    is common in completely machine-made bottles. This may be the only case

    where the machine-made bottle is more valuable than the hand-finished one!

    "It doesn't seem to matter much today whether or not a particular Eli Lilly &

    Company fish bottle is original or one of the reproductions. The value of either

    type seems to be insignificant enough so as not to bother collectors who buy

    them one way or the other. Perhaps, after 100+ years more attention will be paid

    to the originals and reproductions and their very slight differences. It may very

    well be the same scenario as with the famous E.G. Booz cabin-shaped whiskey

    bottle. That bottle has been reproduced so many times that obtaining an original

    is expensive and chancy at best. Only expert bottle collectors can tell the

    difference in the earliest of reproductions of cabin bottle. And sometimes they

    make mistakes.

    "Once again, 'they ain't The Fish or Doctor Fisch's bitters bottles but....' "

  • To answer the recent specific question about value by @mcsady

    You can check sold items on eBay - today in January 2023, I see two of these bottles sold in the $15-20 range: https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2334524.m570.l1313&_nkw=amber+fish+bottle&_sacat=889&LH_TitleDesc=0&rt=nc&_odkw=vintage+fish+bottle&_osacat=889&_sop=16&LH_Complete=1

    There is also a small salesman or sample size bottle just a couple of inches tall. These are much scarcer (and not to be confused with the extremely common Wheaton and Taiwan sample bottles)

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