While Bristol,Tenn-Va may not be a source of quantities of antique bottles today, it had a colorful
and exciting history during the Whiskey and Patent Medicine Eras. One would be hard pressed to find a similar small town with
as many different varieties of imaginatively named bottles.
Where else might one find Pepper Bros'. Celebrated & Aperient Tonic Bitters, (one of whom - C.T.,
has a world famous soft drink named for his daughter), and :
Dr. J.L. Wood's Tasteless Chill Cure: Dickey's Magic Relief, Manhood Restorer, Blood Cure: St.
Andrew's Wine of Life Root , Chill Killer, Nerve Builder, or: Mystic Wine of Life ?
|Mystic Wine of Life - Afton, Tenn. label
THE MYSTIC WINE OF LIFE COMPANY
Best I can determine, the Mystic Wine of Life Company's beginnings
were in Afton, Greene County,Tenn. about 1900. There is a clear BIM oval flask labeled as such...and touted as a "cure."
According to a Bristol newspaper article dated January 1st,
1908 the Mystic Wine of Life Company had just opened its doors for business.
The twin cities of Bristol were thriving and having gone "dry"
on October 31,1907, they were a ready market for a patent medicine high in alcoholic content. Additionally, it is possible
that the success of another Bristol product, "St. Andrews Wine of Life Root", possibly served as a "draw" for the Mystic Company
to locate here with a competitor product.
|Mystic White Camphor Liniment wood crate
The Mystic Remedies were apparently a popular product
line. A January 25 ,1911 newspaper article notes: that for the past few months , it has been impossible to
fill all the orders for the Mystic Remedies.
Seven salesmen were on the road during
this time...in nearly every Southern state and the mail orders have increased, even doubled.
M.D.Andes was president of the Mystic
Co. Andes was long a merchant in Bristol, operating a Commission House as early as 1879 at #24 Main Street.
How he came to be affiliated with the Mystic Co. is not known by this scribe, however there are yet members of an Andes
family residing in Greene County, so possibly the connection was a family one.
|Mystic Aspirin Tablets
W.H.Reeve served as Vice-President. Reeve was most
likely the same as one associated with the Lockett-Reeves Company, a grocery supply firm that also manufactured extracts.
Charles McAfee served as Secretary-Treasurer, and G.T.Brown was the In-House Manager. J.M. Scott and the above comprised the
Mystic Company Board of Directors.
The Mystic Co. was first located at 510
Shelby Street, Bristol,Tenn. in 1908 and, by 1923 had re-located to 315 8th Street...remaining in business until
at least the latter date.
As for how the Mystic Company arrived by it's unusual name is anyone's guess. But,
I'd imagine what with Andrews Manufacturing Company putting out their St. Andrews Wine of Life Root products, and printing
a "Dreambook - Fortune-Telling" almanac, the cover graphics of which illustrated Witches brewing some strange concoction
in a boiling cauldron, it came as no big surprise to local residents.
|Mystic Wine of Life bottles
The Mystic Wine of Life Company's remedies were:
Mystic Wine of Life
Mystic Cough Syrup*
Mystic Worm Confections*
Mystic Aspirin Tablets
Mystic Liver Regulator
Mystic Antiseptic Healing Oil
Mystic White Camphor Liniment
Mystic Blood & Liver Pink Pills*
Mystic Neuralgia & Headache Tablets*
Mystic Antiseptic Liniment
|Mystic Liver Regulator tin
I have yet to see several of the
listed products noted above: (*), and I have yet to discover a
machine made Mystic bottle. There should certainly be some out there, perhaps even as a screw cap example.
All of the Mystic products are either rare or scarce.
I have seen more of the small amber Mystic Wine of Life bottles than any others,even so...I know of less than
a dozen examples.
As always: additional info is requested
The Day I Dug A Mystic Wine of Life Bottle
In 1993, Ralph Van Brocklin,
(a close personal friend), attended an auction in Paris,TN. Upon his return home, he phoned me, and informed
me he had purchased the smaller size amber Mystic Wine of Life/Bristol,Tenn. bottle. I was excited - as
I had both an amber and a clear large example, but not this smaller size amber in my collection.
However...it wasn't for sale...:>(
weekend, as I prepared to leave and go digging, I informed my wife, (somewhat jokingly), that I was "off" to dig
a couple of amber Mystics.
About an hour or so into my digging, an amber bottle fell out of
some roots and into my hole. Imagine my surprise when I rubbed the dirt off to read: Mystic Wine of Life...Mfgd. By The
Mystic Wine of Life Co...Bristol,Tenn.
And, it was in excellent condition !
But ya know....I dug for two more hours and never did uncover that