Branca Brothers & Company

Branca Bitters was considered to be a cholera remedy and general tonic in Italy, and was manufactured there. As an import to the United States it required the same tax stamps as a native product during the Spanish American War tax period, so a private die stamp was ordered in 1899. 50,000 of the stamps were sent to Italy to be placed on the Bitters bottles in such a way that they would be torn when the bottles were opened.

The four cent denomination is unusual, as that is not one of the possible values specified in the law. A retail price of $1.50 to $1.74 would require three-and-three-fourths cents, while $1.75 would have required four-and-three-eights cents. The rate may have been specially negotiated for an imported product, as a bottle sold for $1.60.

A specimen of a label for a Branca Bitters bottle from the American Bank Note Company Archives.

Another specimen label. These could be from any part of the first half of the Twentieth Century.