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Question and Answer
Aqua Blue Fischs Bitters Bottles 3" and 6" Made in Taiwan
Question and Answer
I am wondering about the value of 3" and 6" Fischs Bitters fish-shaped bottles. The only other marking is Made in Taiwan on the bottom of the fish bottle. Detailed with fish scales, eyes, etc. Perfect condition.
Blue fischs bitters glassware.jpg
Hi and welcome.
Don't quit your day job just yet. One will find a little interest for these reproduction / replica type bottles for decorative purposes but they are common and I would say even $10 is a reach most days.
Novelties. No significant collector value, but read about fish bottles here:
They ain't The Fish or Doctor Fisch's bitters bottles but...
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 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:
Cod Bottle Year First 1972 1992
Size Manufactured Value Value
8 1/4" 1922 $20 $25
9 3/4" 1924 $12 $25
3" 1924 $100 $150
6 1/4" 1927 $15 $25
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 chancey at best. Only expert bottle collectors can tell the
difference in the earliest of reproductions of cabin bottle. And sometimes they
Once again, "they ain't The Fish or Doctor Fisch's bitters bottles but...."
What about this tiny bottle it stands just under 2” has made in taiwan on bottom and biters on one side and what looks to be RSCHS on other side?
Thank you, great information