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Title: Old English Patent Medicines in America
Author: Griffenhagen, George B., Young, James Harvey, 1915-2006
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_George B. Griffenhagen_ and
_James Harvey Young_




SOURCE OF SUPPLY SEVERED                        168





_By George B. Griffenhagen and James Harvey Young_

_Bateman's Pectoral Drops, Godfrey's Cordial, Turlington's Balsam of
Life, Hooper's Female Pills, and a half-dozen other similar nostrums
originated in England, mostly during the first half of the 18th
century. Advertised with extravagant claims, their use soon spread to
the American Colonies._

_To the busy settler, with little time and small means, these
ready-made and comparatively inexpensive "remedies" appealed as a
solution to problems of medical and pharmaceutical aid. Their
popularity brought forth a host of American imitations and made an
impression not soon forgotten or discarded._

THE AUTHORS: _George B. Griffenhagen, formerly curator of medical
sciences in the Smithsonian Institution's U.S. National Museum, is now
Director of Communications for the American Pharmaceutical Association.
James Harvey Young is professor of history at Emory University. Some of
the material cited in the paper was found by him while he held a
fellowship from the Fund for the Advancement of Education, in 1954-55,
and grants-in-aid from the Social Science Research Council and Emory
University, in 1956-57._

In 1824 there issued from the press in Philadelphia a 12-page pamphlet
bearing the title, _Formulae for the preparation of eight patent
medicines, adopted by the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy_. The
College was the first professional pharmaceutical organization
established in America, having been founded in 1821, and this small
publication was its first venture of any general importance. Viewed
from the perspective of the mid-20th century, it may seem strange if
not shocking that the maiden effort of such a college should be
publicizing formulas for nostrums. Adding to the novelty is the fact
that all eight of these patent medicines, with which the Philadelphians
concerned themselves half a century after American independence, were
of English origin.

Hooper's Female Pills, Anderson's Scots Pills, Bateman's Pectoral
Drops, Godfrey's Cordial, Dalby's Carminative, Turlington's Balsam of
Life, Steer's Opodeldoc, British Oil--in this order do the names appear
in the Philadelphia pamphlet--all were products of British therapeutic
ingenuity. Across the Atlantic Ocean and on American soil these eight
and other old English patent medicines, as of the year when the 12-page
pamphlet was printed, had both a past and a future.

Origin of English Patent Medicines

When the Philadelphia pharmacists began their study, the eight English
patent medicines were from half a century to two centuries old.[1] The
most ancient was Anderson's Scots Pills, a product of the 1630's, and
the most recent was probably Dalby's Carminative, which appeared upon
the scene in the 1780's. Some aspects of the origin and development of
these and similar English proprietaries have been treated, but a more
thorough search of the sources and a more integrated and interpretive
recounting of the story would be a worthy undertaking. Here merely an
introduction can be given to the cast of characters prior to their
entrances upon the American stage.

      [1] Unless otherwise indicated, the early English history of
      these patent medicines has been obtained from the following
      sources: "Proprietaries of other days," _Chemist and Druggist_,
      June 25, 1927, vol. 106, pp. 831-840; C. J. S. Thompson, _The
      mystery and art of the apothecary_, London, 1929; C. J. S.
      Thompson, _Quacks of old London_, London, 1928; and A. C.
      Wootton, _Chronicles of pharmacy_, London, 1910, 2 vols.

The inventor of Anderson's Scots Pills was fittingly enough a Scot
named Patrick Anderson, who claimed to be physician to King Charles I.
In one of his books, published in 1635, Anderson extolled in Latin the
merits of the Grana Angelica, a pill the formula for which he said he
had learned in Venice. Before he died, Anderson imparted the secret to
his daughter Katherine, and in 1686 she in turn conveyed the secret to
an Edinburgh physician named Thomas Weir. The next year Weir persuaded
James II to grant him letters patent for the pills. Whether he did
this to protect himself against competition that already had begun,
or whether the patenting gave a cue to those always ready to cut
themselves in on a good thing, cannot be said for sure. The last years
of the 17th century, at any rate, saw the commencement of a spirited
rivalry among various makers of Anderson's Scots Pills that was long to
continue. One of them was Mrs. Isabella Inglish, an enterprising woman
who sealed her pill boxes in black wax bearing a lion rampant, three
mallets argent, and the bust of Dr. Anderson. Another was a man named
Gray who sealed his boxes in red wax with his coat of arms and a motto
strangely chosen for a medicine, "Remember you must die."

[Illustration: Figure 1.--THE PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF PHARMACY in 1824
set forth in this pamphlet formulas for eight old English patent
medicines. (_Courtesy, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania._)]

Competition already had begun when Godfrey's Cordial appeared in the
record in a London newspaper advertisement during December 1721. John
Fisher of Hertfordshire, "Physician and Chymist," claimed to have
gotten the true formula from its originator, the late Dr. Thomas
Godfrey of the same county. But there is an alternate explanation.
Perhaps the Cordial had its origin in the apothecary shop established
about 1660 by Ambroise (Hanckowitz) Godfrey in Southampton Street,
London.[2] According to a handbill issued during the late 17th century,
Ambroise Godfrey prepared "Good Cordials as Royal English Drops."

      [2] "How the patent medicine industry came into its own,"
      _American Druggist_, October 1933, vol. 88, pp. 84-87, 232, 234,
      236, 238.

ELIXIR SALUTIS in this pamphlet, published in London in 1673.
(_Courtesy, British Museum._)]

With respect to his rivals, the 18th-century Hertfordshire vendor of
the Cordial warned in the _Weekly Journal_ (London), December 23, 1721:
"I do advise all Persons, for their own Safety, not to meddle with the
said Cordial prepared by illiterate and ignorant Persons, as Bakers,
Malsters, [sic] and Goldsmiths, that shall pretend to make it, it being
beyond their reach; so that by their Covetousness and Pretensions, many
Men, Women, and especially Infants, may fall as Victims, whose Slain
may exceed Herod's Cruelty...."

In 1726 King George I granted a patent for the making and selling of
Dr. Bateman's Pectoral Drops. The patent was given not to a doctor, but
to a business man named Benjamin Okell. In the words of the patent,[3]
Okell is lauded for having "found out and brought to Perfection, a new
Chymicall Preparacion and Medicine..., working chiefly by Moderate
Sweat and Urine, exceeding all other Medicines yet found out for the
Rheumatism, which is highly useful under the Afflictions of the Stone,
Gravell, Pains, Agues, and Hysterias...." What the chemicals
constituting his remedy were, the patentee did not vouchsafe to reveal.

      [3] Benjamin Okell, "Pectoral drops for rheumatism, gravel,
      etc.," British patent 483, March 31, 1726.

The practice of patenting had begun in royal prerogative. Long
accustomed to granting monopoly privileges for the development of new
industries, the discovery of new lands, and the enrichment of court
favorites, various monarchs in 17th-century Europe had given letters
patent to proprietors of medical remedies which had gained popular
acclaim. In France and the German States, this practice continued well
through the 18th century. In England, where representative government
had progressed at the expense of the personal prerogative of the
sovereign, Parliament passed a law in 1624 aimed at curbing arbitrary
actions like those of James I and Charles I. The statute declared all
monopolies void except those extended to the first inventor of a new
process of manufacture. To such pioneers the king could grant his
letters patent bestowing monopoly privileges for a period of 14 years.
That the machinery set up by this law did not completely curb the
independence of English sovereigns in the medical realm is indicated by
the favor extended Dr. Weir, who successfully sought from James II a
privileged position for Anderson's Scots Pills. This kingly grant is
not included in the regular list, and the Glorious Revolution of 1688
brought an end to such an exercise of royal power without consent of
Parliament. A list of patents in the medical field later published by
the Commissioners of Patents[4] includes only six issued during the
17th century, four for baths and devices, one for an improved method of
preparing alum, and one for making epsom salts. The first patent for a
compound medicine was granted in 1711, and only two other proprietors
preceded Benjamin Okell in seeking this particular legal form of
protection and promotion.

As early as 1721, Bateman's Pectoral Drops were being regularly
advertised in the _London Mercury_. The advertisements announced: "Dr.
Bateman's Pectoral DROPS published at the Request of several Persons of
Distinction from both Universities...." The Drops, priced at "1 s. a
Bottle," were "Sold Wholesale and Retail at the Printing-house and
Picture Warehouse in Bow Churchyard," and likewise "in most Cities and
celebrated Towns in Great Britain." "Each Bottle Seal'd with the Boar's
Head." So stated the advertisement, which itself contained a crude cut
of this Boar's Head seal.[5] Elsewhere in this issue of the _Mercury_,
we learn that John Cluer, printer, was the proprietor of the Bow
Churchyard Warehouse. This same John Cluer, along with William Dicey
and Robert Raikes, were named in the 1726 patent as "the Persons
concerned with the said Inventor," Benjamin Okell, who, with him,
should "enjoy the sole Benefit of the said Medicine." It was this
partnership which was to find the field of nostrum promotion especially
congenial and which was to play an important transatlantic role. Soon
after securing their patent, the proprietors undertook to inform their
countrymen about the remedy by issuing _A short treatise of the virtues
of Dr. Bateman's Pectoral Drops_.[6]

      [4] British Patent Office, _Patents for inventions: abridgements
      of specifications relating to medicine, surgery, and dentistry,
      1620-1866_, London, 1872.

      [5] _London Mercury_, London, August 19-26, 1721.

      [6] _A short treatise of the virtues of Dr. Bateman's Pectoral
      Drops_, New York, 1731. A 36-page pamphlet preserved in the
      Library of the New York Academy of Medicine. This is an American
      reprint of an English original, date unknown.

It was the 18th century, and the essay was in fashion. The proprietors
prepared a didactic introduction to their treatise, phrased in long and
flowery sentences, in which modesty was not the governing tone. The
arguments ran like this: that the "Universal Good of Mankind" should be
the aim of "every private member"; that nothing is so conducive to this
general welfare as "HEALTH"; that no hazards to health are more direful
than diseases such as "the Gout; the Rheumatism; the Stone; the
Jaundice," etc., etc.; that countless men and women have succumbed to
such afflictions either because they received no treatment or suffered
wrong treatment at "the Hands of the Learned"; that no medicine is so
sure a cure as that inexpensive remedy discovered as a result of great
"Piety, Learning and Industry" by one "inspir'd with the Love of his
Country, and the Good of Mankind," to wit. "Dr. BATEMAN'S Pectoral

Then followed seven chapters treating the multitude of illnesses for
which the Drops were a specific. Finally, the pamphlet cited "some few,
out of the many thousands of Certificates of Cures effected by these
DROPS...." Even so early was the testimonial deemed a powerful

No more could Okell, Cluer, Dicey, and Raikes escape competition than
could the proprietors of other successful nostrums. In 1755 they went
to court and won a suit for the infringement of their patent, but the
damages amounted to only a shilling. Even after the patent expired, the
tide of publicity flowed on.[7]

      [7] A broadside, issued in London, _ca._ 1750, advertising "Dr.
      Bateman's Drops," is preserved in the Warshaw Collection of
      Business Americana, New York. Later reprints of this same
      broadside are preserved in the private collection of Samuel Aker,
      Albany, New York, and in the Smithsonian Institution.

Competition was also lively in the 1740's among some half a dozen
proprietors marketing a form of crude petroleum under the name of
British Oil. Early in the decade Michael and Thomas Betton were granted
a patent for "An Oyl extracted from a Flinty Rock for the Cure of
Rheumatick and Scorbutick and other Cases." The source of the oil,
according to their specifications, was rock lying just above the coal
in mines, and this rock was pulverized and heated in a furnace to
extract all the precious healing oil.[8] This Betton patent aroused one
of their rivals, Edmund Darby & Co. of Coalbrook-Dale in Shropshire.
Darby asserted that it was presumptuous of the Bettons to call their
British oyl a new invention.[9] For over a century Darby and his
predecessors had been marketing this self-same product, and it had
proved to be "the one and only unrivall'd and most efficacious Remedy
ever yet discovered, against the whole force of Diseases and Accidents
that await Mankind...." For the Bettons to appropriate the process and
patent it--and even to claim in their advertising cures which really
had been wrought by the Darby product--was scandalous. Worse than that,
said Darby, it was illegal, for in 1693 William III had granted a
patent to "Martin Eele and two others at his Nomination for making the
same Sort of Oyl from the same Sort of Materials." Evidence to
substantiate his belief in the Betton perfidy was presented by Darby to
George II, who had the matter duly investigated.[10] Being persuaded
that Darby was right, the king and his councillors, in 1745, vacated
the Betton patent. This victory seems not to have boomed the Darby
interests, and this defeat seems not to have ruined the Bettons. During
the succeeding century, the Betton patent was published and republished
in advertising, just as if it had never fallen afoul the law. From
their battles with the Oil from Coalbrook-Dale and other British Oils
marketed by other proprietors, the Bettons emerged triumphant. In the
years to come, patent or no, the Bettons British Oil was to dominate
the field.

      [8] Michael and Thomas Betton, "Oil for the cure of rheumatic and
      scorbutic affections," British patent 587, August 14, 1742.

      [9] Edmund Darby & Co., _Directions for taking inwardly and using
      outwardly the company's true genuine and original British Oil;
      prepared by Edmund Darby & Co. at Coalbrook-Dale, Shropshire_,
      ca. 1745. An 8-page pamphlet preserved in the Library of the
      College of Physicians, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

      [10] _London Gazette_, London, March 1, 1745.

The year after the Bettons had secured their patent, another was
granted to John Hooper of Reading for the manufacture of "Female Pills"
bearing his name.[11] Hooper was an apothecary, a man-midwife, and a
shrewd fellow. This was the period in which the British Government was
increasing its efforts to require the patentee to furnish precise
specifications with his application.[12] When Hooper was called upon to
tell what was in his pills and how they were made, he replied by
asserting that they were composed "Of the best purging stomatick and
anti-hysterick ingredients," which were formed into pills the size of a
small pea. This satisfied the royal agents and Hooper went on about his
business. In an advertisement of the same year, he was able to cite as
a witness to his patent the name of the Archbishop of Canterbury.[13]

      [11] John Hooper, "Pills," British patent 592, July 21, 1743.

      [12] E. Burke Inlow, _The patent grant_, Baltimore, 1950, p. 33.

      [13] _Daily Advertiser_, London, September 23, 1743.

Much less taciturn than Hooper about the composition of his nostrum was
Robert Turlington, who secured a patent in 1744 for "A specifick
balsam, called the balsam of life."[14] The Balsam contained no less
than 27 ingredients, and in his patent specifications Turlington
asserted that it would cure kidney and bladder stones, cholic, and
inward weakness. He shortly issued a 46-page pamphlet in which he
greatly expanded the list.[15] In this appeal to 18th-century
sensibilities, Turlington asserted that the "Author of Nature" has
provided "a Remedy for every Malady." To find them, "Men of Learning
and Genius" have "ransack'd" the "Animal, Mineral and Vegetable World."
His own search had led Turlington to the Balsam, "a perfect Friend to
Nature, which it strengthens and corroborates when weak and declining,
vivifies and enlivens the Spirits, mixes with the Juices and Fluids of
the Body and gently infuses its kindly Influence into those Parts that
are most in Disorder."

      [14] Robert Turlington, "A Specifick balsam, called the balsam of
      life," British patent 596, January 18, 1744.

      [15] Robert Turlington, _Turlington's Balsam of Life_, ca. 1747.
      A 46-page pamphlet preserved in the Folger Shakespeare Library,
      Washington, D.C.

[Illustration: Figure 3.--LABEL FOR STOUGHTON'S ELIXIR as manufactured
by Dr. Jos. Frye of Salem, Massachusetts. (_Courtesy, Essex Institute,
Salem, Massachusetts._)]

Testimonials from those who had felt the kindly influence took up most
of the space in Turlington's pamphlet. In these grateful
acknowledgments to the potency of the patent medicine, the list of
illnesses cured stretched far beyond the handful named in the patent
specifications. Just as for Bateman's Pectoral Drops and the Darby
brand of British Oil, workers of many occupations solemnly swore that
they had received benefit. Most of them were humble people--a porter, a
carpenter, the wife of a gardener, a blanket-weaver, a gunner's mate, a
butcher, a hostler, a bodice-maker. Some bore a status of greater
distinction: there were a "Mathematical Instrument-Maker" and the
doorkeeper of the East India Company. All were jubilant at their
restored good health.

The Balsam's well-nigh sovereign power could not protect it from one
ailment of the times, competition. Various preparations of similar
composition, like Friar's Balsam, already were on the market, but
before long even the Turlington name was trespassed upon, and the
inventor's niece was forced to advertise that she alone had the true
formula and that any person who took a dose of the spurious imitations
being offered did so at great hazard to his life.

A quarter of a century after the patenting of the Balsam, there
appeared for sale to British ailing a remedy called Dr. Steer's
Celebrated Opodeldoc. Dr. Steer is a shadowy rider of a vigorous
steed, for although the doctor has left but a faint personal impact
upon the historical record, Opodeldoc has pranced through medical
history since the time of Paracelsus. This 16th-century continental
chemist-physician, who introduced many mineral remedies into the
materia medica, had coined the word "opodeldoc" to apply to various
medical plasters. In the two ensuing centuries the meaning had
changed, and the _Pharmacopoeia Edinburgensis_ of 1722 employed the
term to designate soap liniment. It is presumed that Dr. Steer
appropriated the Edinburgh formula, added ammonia, and marketed his
proprietary version. In 1780, a London paper carried an advertisement
listing the difficulties for which the Opodeldoc was a "speedy and
certain cure." These included bruises, sprains, burns, cuts,
chillblains, and headaches. Furthermore, the remedy had been "found
of infinite Use in hot Climates for the Bite of venomous
Insects."[16] Dr. Steer seems not to have secured a patent for his
slightly modified version of an official preparation. He died in
1781, but Opodeldoc, indeed Steer's Opodeldoc, went marching on.[17]

      [16] _Daily Advertiser_, London, February 18, 1780.

      [17] Broadsides, _ca._ 1810-1822, advertising "Steer's Chemical
      Opodeldoc, for bruises, sprains, rheumatism, etc., etc.," are
      preserved in the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester,
      Massachusetts; the Library of the New York Academy of Medicine;
      and the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, New York.

About the same time that Dr. Steer began advertising, newspaper
promotion was launched in behalf of another remedy, called Dalby's
Carminative. The inventor, J. Dalby, was a London apothecary, and his
unpatented concoction was designed to cure "Disorders of the Bowels."
One early advertisement[18] added details: "This Medicine, which is
founded on just Medical Principles, has been long established as a most
safe and effectual Remedy, generally affording immediate Relief in the
Wind, Cholocks [_sic_], Convulsions, Purgings, and all those fatal
Disorders in the Bowels of Infants, which carry off so great a number
under the age of 2 years. It is also equally efficacious in gouty Pains
in the Intestines, in Fluxes, and in the cholicky Complaints of grown
Persons, so usual at this Season of the Year." Dalby, like Steer,
failed long to survive the appearance of his medicine on the market.

      [18] _Daily Advertiser_, London, January 4, 1781.

Such were the origins of the eight remedies which the Philadelphia
pharmacists were to take account of in 1824. Besides these eight, two
other patent medicines, both elixirs, were destined for roles of such
special interest that a brief look at their English background is

One of them, Daffy's Elixir, was the invention of a clergyman, Rev.
Thomas Daffy soon after 1650. Daffy had his troubles during that
troubled century, losing a pastorate because he offended a powerful
Countess. When the rector first sought to minister unto men's bodies as
well as to their souls is not known. According to a pamphlet issued in
1673, after the Rev. Daffy had passed from the scene, the formula had
been "found out by the Providence of the Almighty." By this time a
London kinsman of the inventor, named Anthony Daffy, was vending the
remedy. The full name of the medicine, according to the pamphlet's
title, was "Elixir Salutis: The Choice Drink of Health, or
Health-Bringing Drink," and among the ailments for which it was
effective were gout, the stone, colic, "ptissick," scurvy, dropsy,
rickets, consumption, and "languishing and melancholly."

The Elixir Salutis proved immensely popular. It was too much to expect
that Anthony should hold the field uncontested; in the 1673 pamphlet
one false fabricator was called by name, and in 1680 Anthony advertised
to warn against "diverse Persons" who were not only counterfeiting the
medicine but spreading the malicious rumor that Anthony was dead. Early
in the new century, Catherine, the daughter of the original Rev. Daffy,
insisted that she as well as her cousin Anthony had received the
valuable formula. But it was Anthony's line that was to prove the more
persistent. In 1743, one Susannah Daffy advertised the "Original and
Famous Elixir," asserting that she had a brother Anthony who also knew
the secret.[19] This Anthony died in 1750 and willed the formula to his
niece. But there were others outside the family who long had been
making and selling the medicine. For example, the Bow Churchyard
Warehouse advertised Daffy's Elixir in the _London Mercury_ during
1721. Without hiding the fact that others were also compounding this
"safe and pleasant Cordial ... well-known throughout England, where it
has been in great Use these 50 Years," the advertisement concluded:
"Those who make tryalof That sold at this [Bow Churchyard] Warehouse
will never buy anywhere else."[20]

      [19] _Ibid._, September 7, 1743.

      [20] _London Mercury_, London, August 19-26, 1721.

Although once lauded by a physician to King Charles II, Daffy's Elixir
was never patented. The Elixir invented by Richard Stoughton was, in
1712, the second compound medicine to be granted a patent in
England.[21] Stoughton was an apothecary who had a shop at the Sign of
the Unicorn in Southwark, Surrey. It was evidently competition, the
constant bane of the medicine proprietor's life, that drove him to seek
governmental protection. In his specifications he asserted that he had
been making his medical mixture for over twenty years. Stoughton was
less precise about his formula; indeed, he gave none, but was generous
in indicating the remedy's name: "Stoughton's Elixir Magnum Stomachii,
or the Great Cordial Elixir, otherwise called the Stomatick Tincture or
Bitter Drops." In a handbill, the apothecary did tip his hand to the
extent of asserting that his Elixir contained 22 ingredients, but added
that nobody but himself knew what they were. The dosage was generous,
50 to 60 drops "in a glass of Spring water, Beer, Ale, Mum, Canary,
White wine, with or without sugar, and a dram of brandy as often as you
please." This, it was said, would cure any stomach ailment

      [21] Richard Stoughton, "Restorative cordial and medicine,"
      British patent 390, 1712.

      [22] From a broadside, _ca._ 1750, advertising "Dr. Stoughton's
      Elixir Magnum Stomachum," preserved in the American Antiquarian
      Society, Worcester, Mass.

The inventor died in 1726, and his passing precipitated a perfect fury
of competitive advertising. As in the case of Daffy's, there was a
family feud. A son of Stoughton and the widow of another son argued
vituperously in print, each claiming sole possession of Richard's
complicated secret, and each terming the other a scoundrel. The
daughter-in-law accused the son of financial chicanery, and the son
condemned the daughter-in-law for having run through two husbands and
for desperately wanting a third. In the midst of this running battle, a
third party entered the lists as maker of the Elixir. She was no
Stoughton--though a widow--and her quaint claim for the public's
consideration lay in this, that her late husband had infringed
Stoughton's patent until restrained by the Lord Chancellor.

These ten medicines--Stoughton's and Daffy's Elixirs and the eight
which the Philadelphia pharmacists were later to select--were by no
means the only packaged remedies available to the 18th-century
Englishman who resorted to self-dosage for his ills. Between 1711, when
the first patent was granted for a compound medicine, and 1776, some 75
items were patented in the medical field.[23] And, along with Godfrey's
Cordial and Daffy's Elixir, there were scores of other remedies for
which no patents had been given. A list of nostrums published in _The
Gentleman's Magazine_ in 1748 totaled 202, and it was admittedly
incomplete.[24] The proprietor with a patent might do his utmost to
keep this badge of governmental sanction before the public, but the
distinction was not great enough in such a crowded field to make things
clear. The casual buyer could not keep track of which electuary had
been granted a patent and which lozenge had not. They were all bottles
and boxes upon the shelf. In use they served the same purpose. One term
arose in common speech to apply to both, and it was "patent medicine."

      [23] British Patent Office, _op. cit._ (see footnote 4).

      [24] Poplicola, "Pharmacopoeia empirica or the list of nostrums
      and empirics," _The Gentleman's Magazine_, 1748, vol. 18, pp.

English Patent Medicines Come to America

When the first English packaged medicine, patented or unpatented, came
to the New World, cannot be told. Some 17th-century prospective
colonist, setting forth to face the hazards of life in Jamestown or
Baltimore or Boston, must have packed a box of Anderson's Scots Pills
or a bottle of Daffy's Elixir to bring along, but no record to
substantiate such an incident has been encountered. It would seem that
the use of English packaged remedies in America was most infrequent
before 1700. Samuel Lee, answering questions posed from England in 1690
about the status of medicine and pharmacy in Massachusetts, mentions no
patent medicines.[25] Neither does the 1698 account book of the Salem
apothecary, Bartholomew Brown.[26]

      [25] George L. Kittredge, "Letters to Samuel Lee and Samuel
      Sewall relating to New England and the Indians," _Colonial
      Society of Massachusetts, Transactions_, 1913, vol. 14, pp.

      [26] Bartholomew Brown, Apothecary day book, Salem [1698];
      manuscript original preserved in the Library of the Essex
      Institute, Salem, Massachusetts.

[Illustration: Figure 4.--PATRICK ANDERSON, M.D., from a box of
Anderson's Scots Pills. From Wootton's _Chronicles of pharmacy_,
London, 1910. (_Smithsonian photo 44286-C._)]

In the _Boston News-Letter_ for October 4, 1708, Nicholas Boone, at the
Sign of the Bible, near the corner, of School-House-Lane, advertised
for sale: "DAFFY'S Elixir Salutis, very good, at four shillings and
sixpence _per_ half pint Bottle." This may well be the first printed
reference in America to an English patent medicine, and it certainly is
the first newspaper advertisement for a nostrum. Preceding the
_News-Letter_ in colonial America, there had been only one paper, the
_Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestic_.[27] This journal had
lasted but a single issue. Then its printer had returned to England,
where he took up the career of a patent medicine promoter, vending "the
only Angelical Pills against all Vapours, Hysterick Fits." The
_News-Letter_ had begun with the issue of April 27, 1704, about 4 years
before Boone's advertisement for Daffy's remedy made its appearance,
but during that time, only one advertisement for anything at all in the
medical field had appeared, and that was for a home-remedy book, _The
English physician_, by Nicholas Culpeper, Doctor of Physick.[28] This
volume was also for sale at Boone's shop.

      [27] Frank L. Mott, _American journalism_, New York, 1941, pp.

      [28] _Boston News-Letter_, Boston, February 9, 1708.

Patent-medicine advertising in the _News-Letter_ prior to 1750 was
infrequent. Apothecary Zabdiel Boylston, who a decade later was to earn
a role of esteem in medical history by introducing the inoculation for
smallpox, announced in 1711 that he would sell "the true Lockyers
Pills."[29] This was an unpatented remedy first concocted half a
century earlier by a "licensed physitian" in London. The next year
Boylston repeated this appeal,[30] and in the same advertisement listed
other wares of the same type. He had two varieties, Golden and Plain,
of the Spirit of Scurvy-Grass; he had "The Bitter Stomach Drops," worm
potions for children; and a wonderful multipurpose nostrum, "the Royal
Honey Water, an Excellent Perfume, good against Deafness, and to Make
Hair grow...." The antecedents of this regal liquid are unknown.
Boylston also announced for sale "The Best [Daffy's] Elixir Salutis in
Bottles, or by the Ounce." This is a provocative listing. It may mean
merely that the apothecary would break a bottle to sell a dose of the
Elixir, which was often the custom. But it also may suggest that
Boylston was making the Elixir himself, or was having it prepared by a
journeyman. This latter interpretation would place Boylston well at the
head of a long parade of American imitators of the old English patent

      [29] _Ibid._, March 12, 1711.

      [30] _Ibid._, March 24, 1712.

Other such shipments of the packaged English remedies may have come to
New England on the latest ships from London during the next several
decades, but they got scant play in the advertising columns of the
small 4-page _Boston News-Letter_. Another reference to "Doctor Anthony
Daffey's Original Elixer Salutis" occurs in 1720.[31] Ten years later,
Stoughton's Drops were announced for sale "by Public Vendue," along
with feather beds, looking glasses, and leather breeches.[32] Nearly a
decade more was to pass before Bateman's Pectoral Drops showed up in
the midst of another general list, including cheese, and shoes, and
stays.[33] Not until 1748 did an advertisement appear in which several
of the old English nostrums rubbed shoulders with each other.[34] Then
Silvester Gardiner, at the Sign of the Unicorn and Mortar, asserted
that "by appointment of the Patentee" he was enabled to sell "Genuine
British Oyl, _Bateman's_ Pectoral Drops, and _Hooper's_ Female Pills,
and the True _Lockyer's_ Pills."

      [31] _Ibid._, November 14, 1720.

      [32] _Ibid._, March 12, 1730.

      [33] _Ibid._, January 4, 1739.

      [34] _Ibid._, November 14, 1748.

Although nearly a century old, Anderson's Scots Pills were not cited
for sale in the pages of the _Boston News-Letter_ until August 23,
1750, two months after the much more recent Turlington's Balsam of Life
first put in its appearance.[35] During the same year, the British
confusion over British Oil was reflected in America. Boden's and
Darby's variety preceded the Betton brand into the _News-Letter_ pages
by a fortnight.[36] It was the latter, however, which was to win the
day in Boston, for almost all subsequent advertising specified the
Betton Oil. Godfrey's Cordial was first mentioned in 1761.[37] Thus, of
the ten old English patent medicines which are the focus of the present
study, eight had been advertised in the _Boston News-Letter_. The other
two, Steer's Opodeldoc and Dalby's Carminative, did not reach the
market before this colonial journal fell prey to the heightening
tensions of early 1776.

      [35] _Ibid._, June 7, 1750.

      [36] _Ibid._, May 24, 1750.

      [37] _Ibid._, December 31, 1761.

By the 1750's, the names of several old English nostrums were appearing
fairly frequently in the advertising of colonial apothecaries, not only
in Boston but in other colonial towns. In Williamsburg, for example, a
steady increase occurs in the number of references and the length of
the lists of the English patent medicines advertised in the _Virginia
Gazette_ from their first mention into the early 1760's.[38] This
journal--which later had competing issues by different editors--was
launched in 1736, and the next year George Gilmer advised customers
that, in addition to "all manner of Chymical and Galenical Medicines,"
he could furnish, at his old shop near the Governor's, "Bateman's
Drops, Squires Elixir, Anderson's Pills."[39] The other remedies
appeared in due time, Stoughton's and Daffy's Elixirs in 1745,
Turlington's Balsam in 1746, Godfrey's Cordial in 1751, Hooper's Pills
in 1752, and Betton's British Oil in 1770.

      [38] Lester J. Cappon and Stella F. Duff, _Virginia Gazette
      index, 1736-1780_, Williamsburg, 1950, 2 vols.

      [39] _Virginia Gazette_, Williamsburg, May 27, 1737.

A spot check of newspapers in Philadelphia and New York reveals a
pattern quite similar. Residents of the middle colonies, like those to
the north and the south, could buy the basic English brands, and it was
during the 1750's that the notices of freshly-arrived supplies ceased
to be rare in advertising columns and became a frequent occurrence.
Thomas Preston, for example, announced to residents of Philadelphia in
1768 that he had just received a supply of Anderson's, Hooper's,
Bateman's, Betton's, Daffy's, Stoughton's, Turlington's, and Godfrey's
remedies.[40] Not only were these medicines for sale at apothecary
shops, but they were sold by postmasters, goldsmiths, grocers, hair
dressers, tailors, printers, booksellers, cork cutters, the post-rider
between Philadelphia and Williamsburg, and by many colonial American

      [40] _Pennsylvania Gazette_, Philadelphia, December 1, 1768.

It is a matter for comment that American newspaper advertising of the
English packaged medicines was singularly drab. In the mother country,
the proprietors or their heirs were faced with vigorous competition. It
behooved them to sharpen up their adjectives and reach for their
vitriol. In America the apothecary or merchant had no proprietary
interest in any of the different brands of the imported medicines which
were sold. Moreover, there was probably no great surplus of supply over
demand in America as in Britain, so the task of selling the stock on
hand was less difficult and required less vigorous promotion. Also,
advertising space in the few American weeklies was more at a premium
than in the more frequent and numerous English journals. With rare
exceptions, therefore, the old English patent medicines were merely
mentioned by name in American advertising. Seldom did one receive the
individual attention accorded by Samuel Emlen to Godfrey's Cordial in
Benjamin Franklin's _Pennsylvania Gazette_ for June 26, 1732. The ad
ran like this:

    "Dr. Godfrey's General Cordial. So universally approved of for the
    Cholick, and all Manners cf Pains in the Bowels, Fluxes, Fevers,
    Small-Pox, Measles, Rheumatism, Coughs, Colds, and Restlessness in
    Men, Women, and Children; and particularly for several Ailments
    incident to Child-bearing Women, and Relief of young Children in
    breeding their Teeth."

[Illustration: Figure 5.--PAMPHLET, DATED 1731, ON BEHALF OF BATEMAN'S
PECTORAL DROPS. It was published by John Peter Zenger in New York.
Original preserved in the New York Academy of Medicine Library.
(_Smithsonian photo 44286-D._)]

Emlen's venturesomeness may have lain in the fact that he was not only
a retailer, but also an agent for the British manufacturer, for he
cited the names of those who sold Godfrey's Cordial in nearby towns.
Even at that, this appeal, consisting merely of a list of illnesses,
lacked the cleverness of contemporary English nostrum advertising. In
the whole span of the _Boston News-Letter_, beginning in 1704, it was
not until 1763 that a bookstore pulled out the stops with half a column
of lively prose in behalf of Dr. Hill's four unpatented nostrums.[41]
It seems a safe assumption that not only the medicines but the verbiage
were imported from London, where Dr. Hill had been at work endeavoring
to restore a Greek secret which "converts a Glass of Water into the
Nature and Quality of Asses Milk, with the Balsamick Addition...."

      [41] _Boston News-Letter_, Boston, November 24, 1763.

The infrequency of extended fanciful promotion in behalf of the old
English nostrums in American newspaper advertising may have been
compensated for to some degree in broadside and pamphlet. A critic of
the medical scene in New York in the early 1750's asserted that
physicians used patent medicines which they learned about from "London
quack bills." This doctor complained, these were often their only
reading matter.[42] Such a judgment may be too severe. Certainly it is
difficult to validate today. Such pamphlets and broadsides do appear in
American archival collections. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
contains a 2-page Turlington broadside,[43] while the Folger
Shakespeare Library in Washington has an earlier 46-page Turlington
pamphlet with testimonials reaching out toward America.[44] One such
certificate came from "a sailor before the mast, on board the ship
Britannia in the New York trade," and another cited a woman living in
Philadelphia who gave thanks for the cure of her dropsy.

      [42] James J. Walsh, _History of the Medical Society of the State
      of New York_, New York, 1907.

      [43] Robert Turlington, "Turlington's Balsam of Life," 1755-1757.
      A later reprint of this same circular is preserved in the Warshaw
      Collection of Business Americana.

      [44] _Turlington's Balsam of Life_ (see footnote 15).

A broadside in the Warshaw Collection touting Bateman's Drops noted
that "extraordinary demands have been made for Maryland, New-York,
Jamaica, etc. where their virtues have been truely experienced with the
greatest satisfaction."[45] That such promotional items are extremely
rare does not mean they were not abundant in the mid-18th century, for
this type of printed matter, then as now, was likely to be looked at
and thrown away. A certain amount of nostrum literature was undoubtedly
imported from Britain. For example, in 1753 apothecary James Carter of
Williamsburg ordered from England "3 Quire Stoughton's Directions"
along with "1/2 Groce Stoughton Vials."[46] These broadsides or
circulars served a twofold purpose. Not only did they promote the
medicine, but they actually served as the labels for the bottles. Early
packages of these patent medicines which have been discovered indicate
that paper labels were seldom applied to the glass bottles; instead,
the bottle was tightly wrapped and sealed in one of these broadsides.

      [45] "Dr. Bateman's Drops" (see footnote 7).

      [46] James Carter, Apothecary account book, Williamsburg
      [1752-1773]. Manuscript original preserved at Colonial
      Williamsburg, Virginia.

American imprints seeking to promote the English patent medicines were
certainly rare. The most significant example may be found in the
Library of the New York Academy of Medicine.[47] In 1731 James Wallace,
a New York merchant, became American agent for the sale of Dr.
Bateman's Pectoral Drops. To help him with his new venture, Wallace
took a copy of the London promotional pamphlet to a New York printer to
be reproduced. The printer was John Peter Zenger, not yet an editor and
three years away from the events which were to link his name
inextricably with the concept of the freedom of the press. This 1731
pamphlet may well have been the earliest work on any medical theme to
be printed in New York.[48]

      [47] _A short treatise of the virtues of Dr. Bateman's Pectoral
      Drops_ (see footnote 6).

      [48] Gertrude L. Annan, "Printing and medicine," _Bulletin of the
      Medical Library Association_, March 1940, vol. 28, p. 155.

Now and then a physician might frown on his fellows for reading such
literature and prescribing such remedies, but he was in a minority.
Colonial doctors, by and large, had no qualms about employing the
packaged medicines. It was a doctor who first advertised Anderson's
Pills and Bateman's Drops in Williamsburg;[49] it was another,
migrating from England to the Virginia frontier, who founded a town and
dosed those who came to dwell therein with Bateman's Drops,
Turlington's Balsam, and other patent medicines.[50]

      [49] Wyndham B. Blanton, _Medicine in Virginia in the eighteenth
      century_, Richmond, Virginia, 1931, pp. 33-34.

      [50] Maurice Bear Gordon, _Aesculapius comes to the colonies_,
      Ventnor, New Jersey, 1949, p. 39.

Complex Formulas and Distinctive Packages

Indeed, the status of medical knowledge, medical need, and medical
ethics in the 18th century permitted patent medicines to fit quite
comfortably into the environment. As to what actually caused diseases,
man knew little more than had the ancient Greeks. There were many
theories, however, and the speculations of the learned often sound as
quaint in retrospect as do the cocky assertions of the quack bills.
Pamphlet warfare among physicians about their conflicting theories
achieved an acrimony not surpassed by the competing advertisers of
Stoughton's Elixir. The aristocratic practitioners of England, the
London College of Physicians, refused to expand their ranks even at a
time when there were in the city more than 1,300 serious cases of
illness a day to every member of the College. The masses had to
look elsewhere, and turned to apothecaries, surgeons, quacks, and
self-treatment.[51] The lines were drawn even less sharply in colonial
America, and there was no group to resemble the London College in
prestige and authority. Medical laissez-faire prevailed. "Practitioners
are laureated gratis with a title feather of Doctor," wrote a New
Englander in 1690. "Potecaries, surgeons & midwifes are dignified
acc[ording] to successe."[52] Such an atmosphere gave free rein to
self-dosage, either with an herbal mixture found in the pages of a
home-remedy book or with Daffy's Elixir.

      [51] Fielding H. Garrison, _An introduction to the history of
      medicine_, Philadelphia, 1924, pp. 405-408; and Richard H.
      Shryock. _The development of modern medicine_, New York, 1947,
      pp. 51-54.

      [52] Kittredge, _op. cit._ (footnote 25).

In the 18th century, drugs were still prescribed that dated back to the
dawn of medicine. There were Theriac or Mithridatum, Hiera Picra (or
Holy Bitters), and Terra Sigillata. Newer botanicals from the Orient
and the New World, as well as the "chymicals" reputedly introduced by
Paracelsus, found their way into these ancient formulas. Since the
precise action of individual drugs in relation to given ailments was
but hazily known, there was a tendency to blanket assorted
possibilities by mixing numerous ingredients into the same formula. The
formularies of the Middle Ages encouraged this so-called
"polypharmacy." For example the _Antidotarium Nicolai_, written about
A.D. 1100 at Salerno, described 38 ingredients in Confectio Adrianum,
35 ingredients in Confectio Atanasia, and 48 ingredients in Confectio
Esdra. Theriac or Mithridatum grew in complexity until by the 16th
century it had some 60 different ingredients.

It was in this tradition of complex mixtures that most of the patent
medicines may be placed. Richard Stoughton claimed 22 ingredients for
his Elixir, and Robert Turlington, in his patent specification, named
27. Although other proprietors had shorter lists or were silent on the
number of ingredients, a major part of their secrecy really lay in
having complicated formulas. Even though rivals might detect the major
active ingredients, the original proprietor could claim that only he
knew all the elements in their proper proportions and the secret of
their blending.

Not only in complexity did the patent medicines resemble regular
pharmaceutical compounds of the 18th century. In the nature of their
composition they were blood brothers of preparations in the various
pharmacopoeias and formularies. Indeed, there was much borrowing in
both directions. An official formula of one year might blossom out the
next in a fancy bottle bearing a proprietor's name. At the same time,
the essential recipe of a patent medicine, deprived of its original
cognomen and given a Latin name indicative of its composition or
therapeutic nature, might suddenly appear in one of the official

For example, the formula for Daffy's Elixir was adopted by the
_Pharmacopoeia Londinensis_ in 1721 under the title of "Elixir Salutis"
and later by the _Pharmacopoeia Edinburghensis_ as "Tinctura sennae
composita" (Compound Senna Tincture). Similarly the essential formula
for Stoughton's Elixir was adopted by the _Pharmacopoeia
Edinburghensis_ as early as 1762 under the name of "Elixir Stomachium,"
and later as "Compound Tincture of Gentian" (as in the _Pharmacopoeia
of the Massachusetts Medical Society_ of 1808). Only two years after
Turlington obtained his "Balsam of Life" patent, the _Pharmacopoeia
Londinensis_ introduced a recipe under the title of "Balsamum
Traumaticum" which eventually became Compound Tincture of Benzoin, with
the synonym Turlington's Balsam. On the other hand, none of these early
English patent medicines, including Stoughton's Elixir and Turlington's
Balsam, offered anything new, except possibly new combinations or new
proportions of ingredients already widely employed in medicine.
Formulas similar in composition to those patented or marketed as "new
inventions" can in every case be found in such 17th-century
pharmacopoeias as William Salmon's _Pharmacopoeia Londinensis_.

[Illustration: Figure 6.--BOTTLES OF BATEMAN'S PECTORAL DROPS, 19th
century (left) and early 20th century (right), from the Samuel Aker,
David and George Kass collection, Albany, New York. (_Smithsonian photo

Whatever similarities existed between the canons of regular pharmacy
and the composition of patent medicines, there was a decided difference
in the methods of marketing. Although patent medicines were often
prescription items, they did not have to be. The way they looked on a
shelf made them so easily recognizable that even the most loutish
illiterate could tell one from another. As the nostrum proprietor did
so much to pioneer in advertising psychology, so he also blazed a trail
with respect to distinctive packaging. The popularity of the old
English remedies, year in and year out, owed much to the fact that
though the ingredients inside might vary (unbeknownst to the customer),
the shape of the bottle did not. This was the reason proprietors raised
such a hue and cry about counterfeiters. The secret of a formula might,
if only to a degree, be retained, but simulation of bottle design and
printed wrapper was easily accomplished, and to the average customer
these externals were the medicine.

This fundamental fact was to be recognized by the committee of
Philadelphia pharmacists in 1824. "We are aware" the committeemen
reported, "that long custom has so strongly associated the idea of the
genuineness of the Patent medicines, with particular shapes of the
vials that contain them, and with certain printed labels, as to render
an alteration in them an affair of difficulty. Many who use these
preparations would not purchase British Oil that was put up in a
conical vial, nor Turlington's Balsam in a cylindrical one. The stamp
of the excise, the king's royal patent, the seal and coat of arms which
are to prevent counterfeits, the solemn caution against quacks and
imposters, and the certified lists of incredible cures, [all these were
printed on the bottle wrappers] have not even now lost their
influence." Nor were they for years to come.

Thus after 1754 the Turlington Balsam bottle was pear-shaped, with
sloping shoulders, and molded into the glass in crude raised capitals
were the proprietor's name and his claim of THE KINGS ROYAL PATENT.[53]
Turlington during his life had made one modification. He explained it
in a broadside, saying that "to prevent the Villainy of some Persons
who buying up my empty Bottles, have basely and wickedly put therein a
vile spurious Counterfeit-Sort," he had changed the bottle shape. The
date molded into the glass on his supply of new genuine bottles was
January 26, 1754.[54] This was, perhaps, a very fine point of
difference from the perspective of the average customer, and in any
case the bottle was hidden under its paper wrapper.

      [53] "From past times an original bottle of Turlington's Balsam,"
      _Chemist and Druggist_, September 23, 1905, vol. 67, p. 525;
      Stewart Schackne, "Bottles," _American Druggist_, October 1933,
      vol. 88, pp. 78-81, 186-188, 190, 194; Frederick Fairchild
      Sherman, "Some early bottles," _Antiques_, vol. 3, pp. 122-123;
      and Stephen Van Rensselaer, _Early American bottles and flasks_,
      Peterborough, New Hampshire, 1926.

      [54] Waldo R. Wedel and George B. Griffenhagen, "An English
      balsam among the Dakota aborigines," _American Journal of
      Pharmacy_, December 1954, vol. 126, pp. 409-415.

The British Oil bottle was tall and slender and it rested on a square
base. Godfrey's Cordial came in a conical vial with steep-pitched
sides, the cone's point replaced by a narrow mouth.[55] Bateman's
Pectoral Drops were packaged in a more common "phial"--a tall and
slender cylindrical bottle.[56] Dalby's Carminative came in a bottle
not unlike the Godfrey's Cordial bottle, except that Dalby's was
impressed with the inscription DALBY'S CARMINATIV.[57] Steer's
Opodeldoc bottles were cylindrical in shape, with a wide mouth; some
apparently were inscribed OPODELDOC while others carried no such
inscription. At least one brand of Daffy's Elixir was packaged in a
globular bottle, according to a picture in a 1743 advertisement.[58]
Speculation regarding the size and shape of the Stoughton bottle
varies.[59] At least one Stoughton bottle was described as "Round
amber. Tapered from domed shoulder to base. Long 5 in. bulged neck.
Square flanged mouth. Flat base."[60]

      [55] Sherman, _op. cit._ (footnote 53).

      [56] Schackne, _op. cit._ (footnote 53).

      [57] George S. and Helen McKearin, _American glass_, New York,

      [58] _Daily Advertiser_, London, October 29, 1743.

      [59] George Griffenhagen, "Stodgy as a Stoughton bottle,"
      _Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association, Practical
      Pharmacy Edition_, January 1956, vol. 17, p. 20; Mitford B.
      Mathews, ed., _A dictionary of Americanisms on historical
      principles_, Chicago, 1951, 2 vols.; Bertha Kitchell Whyte,
      _Wisconsin heritage_, Boston, 1954; Charles Earle Funk, _Heavens
      to Betsy! and other curious sayings_, New York, 1955.

      [60] James H. Thompson, _Bitters bottles_, Watkins Glen, New
      York, 1947, p. 60.

Hooper's and Anderson's Scots Pills were, of course, not packaged in
bottles (at least not the earliest), but were instead sold in the
typical oval chip-wood pill boxes. On the lid of the box containing
Hooper's Pills was stamped this inscription: DR. JOHN HOOPER'S FEMALE
PILLS: BY THE KING'S PATENT 21 JULY 1743 NO. 592. So far no example or
illustration of Anderson's Scots Pills has been found. At least one
producer, it will be remembered (page 157), sealed the box in black wax
bearing a lion rampant, three mallets argent, and the bust of Dr.

Source of Supply Severed

On September 29, 1774, John Boyd's "medicinal store" in Baltimore
followed the time-honored custom of advertising in the _Maryland
Gazette_ a fresh supply of medicines newly at hand from England. To
this intelligence was added a warning. Since nonimportation agreements
by colonial merchants were imminent, which bade fair to make goods hard
to get, customers would be wise to make their purchases before the
supply became exhausted. Boyd's prediction was sound. The Boston Tea
Party of the previous December had evoked from Parliament a handful of
repressive measures, the Intolerable Acts, and at the time of Boyd's
advertisement, the first Continental Congress in session was soon to
declare that all imports from Great Britain should be halted.

[Illustration: Figure 7.--BOTTLES OF BRITISH OIL, 19th and early 20th
century, from the Samuel Aker, David and George Kass collection,
Albany, New York. (_Smithsonian photo 44201-B._)]

This Baltimore scare advertising may well have been heeded by Boyd's
customers, for trade with the mother country had been interrupted
before; in the wake of the Townshend Acts in 1767, when Parliament had
placed import duties on various products, including tea, American
merchants in various cities had entered into nonimportation agreements.
Certainly, there was a decided decrease in the Boston advertising of
patent medicines received from London. With respect to imports of any
kind, it became necessary to explain, and one merchant noted that his
goods were "the Remains of a Consignment receiv'd before the
Non-Importation Agreement took place."[61] When Parliament yielded to
the financial pressure and abolished all the taxes but the one on tea,
nonimportation collapsed. This fact is reflected in an advertisement
listing nearly a score of patent medicines, including the remedies of
Turlington, Bateman, the Bettons, Anderson, Hooper, Godfrey, Daffy, and
Stoughton, as "Just come to Hand and Warranted Genuine" on Captain
Dane's ship, "directly from the Original Warehouse kept by DICEY and
OKELL in Bow Street, London."[62]

      [61] _Massachusetts Gazette_, Boston, December 21, 1769.

      [62] _Ibid._, April 25, 1771.

The days of such ample importations, however, were doomed, as commerce
fell prey to the growing revolutionary agitation. The last medical
advertisement in the _Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly
News-Letter_, before its demise the following February, appeared five
months after the Battles of Lexington and Concord.[63] The apothecary
at the Sign of the Unicorn was frank about the situation. He had
imported fresh drugs and medicines every fall and spring up to the
preceding June. He still had some on hand. Doctors and others should be

      [63] _Ibid._, September 7, 1775.

Implicit in the advertisement is the suggestion that the securing of
new supplies under the circumstances would be highly uncertain. That
pre-war stocks did hold out, sometimes well into the war years may be
deduced from a Williamsburg apothecary's advertisement.[64] W. Carter
took the occasion of the ending of a partnership with his brother to
publish a sort of inventory. Along with the "syrup and ointment pots,
all neatly painted and lettered," the crabs eyes and claws, the Spanish
flies, he listed a dozen patent medicines, including the remedies of
Anderson, Bateman, and Daffy.

      [64] _Virginia Gazette_ (edited by Dixon and Nicholson),
      Williamsburg, June 12, 1779.

Even the British blockade failed to prevent patent medicines from being
shipped from wholesaler to retailer. In the account book of a Salem,
Massachusetts, apothecary,[65] the following entry appears:

    4 cases Containing
        1 Dozn Bottles Godfreys Cordial             4/
        5 Dozn   Do    Smaller Turling Bals        18/
        8 Dozn Bettons British Oil                  8/
        6-1/2 Dozn Hoopers Female Pills            10/
        4 Dozn nd 8 Boxs And. Pills                10/

    SALEM APRIL 8th 1777

    The above 13 packages and 4 cases of medicines are ship'd on Board
    the Sloop Called the Two Brothers Saml West Master. On Account and
    [illegible word] of Mr. Oliver Smith of Boston Apothecary and to
    him consigned. The cases are unmarked being ship'd at Night. Error
    Excepted Jon. Waldo.

      [65] Jonathon Waldo, Apothecary account book, Salem,
      Massachusetts [1770-1790]. Manuscript original preserved in
      the Library of the Essex Institute, Salem, Mass.

[Illustration: Figure 8.--DALBY'S CARMINATIVE, two sides of a bottle
from the McKearin collection, Hoosick Falls, New York. (_Smithsonian
photo 44287-C._)]

The sloop was undoubtedly one of the small coastal type ships employed
by the colonists, and the British blockade required such ominous
precautions as "unmarked cases" and "ship'd by Night."

Such random assortments of prewar importations could hardly have met
the American demand for the old English patent medicines created by a
half century of use. Doubtless many embattled farmers had to confront
their ailments without the accustomed English-made remedies. However,
as early as the 1750's, at least two of the English patent medicines,
Daffy's and Stoughton's Elixirs, were being compounded in the
colonies and packaged in empty bottles shipped from England.
Apothecary Carter of Williamsburg ordered sizable quantities of empty
"Stoughton Vials" from 1752 through 1770, and occasionally ordered
empty Daffy's bottles.[66] In 1774 apothecary Waldo of Salem noted
the receipt from England of "1 Groce Stoughton Phials" and "1 Groce
Daffy's Do."[67] Joseph Stansbury, who sold china and glass in
Philadelphia, advertised "Daffy's Elixir Bottles" a week after the
Declaration of Independence.[68] Stoughton's and Daffy's Elixirs,
therefore, were being compounded by the American apothecaries during
the Revolutionary War. Formulas for both preparations were official
in the London and Edinburgh pharmacopoeias, as well as in unofficial
formularies like Quincy's _Pharmacopoeias officinalis extemporanea_
of 1765. All these publications were used widely by American
physicians and apothecaries.

      [66] Carter, _op. cit._ (footnote 46).

      [67] Waldo, _op. cit._ (footnote 65).

      [68] _Pennsylvania Gazette_, Philadelphia, July 11, 1776.

It is not known how extensively, during the struggle for independence,
this custom was adopted for English patent medicines other than Daffy's
and Stoughton's. However, imitation of English patent medicines in
America was to increase, and it contributed to the chaos that beset the
nostrum field when the war was over and the original articles from
England were once more available. And they were bought. An
advertisement at a time when the fighting was over and peace
negotiations were still under way indicated that the Baltimore post
office had half a dozen of the familiar English remedies for sale.[69]
Two years later a New York store turned to tortured rhyme to convey the
same message:[70]

    Medicines approv'd by royal charter,
    James, Godfry, Anderson, Court-plaster,
    With Keyser's, Hooper's Lockyer's Pills,
    And Honey Balsam Doctor Hill's;
    Bateman and Daffy, Jesuits drops,
    And all the Tinctures of the shops,
    As Stoughton, Turlington and Grenough,
    Pure British Oil and Haerlem Ditto....

      [69] _Maryland Journal and Baltimore Gazette_, Baltimore, October
      29, 1782.

      [70] _New York Packet and the American Advertiser_, New York,
      October 11, 1784.

Later in the decade, the Salem apothecary, Jonathon Waldo, made a list
of "An assortment [of patent medicines] Usually Called For." The
imported brand of Turlington's Balsam, Waldo stated, was "very dear" at
36 shillings a dozen, adding that his "own" was worth but 15 shillings
for the same quantity. The English original of another nostrum, Essence
of Peppermint, he listed at 18 shillings a dozen, his own at a mere
10/6.[71] Despite the price differential, importations continued. A
Beverly, Massachusetts, druggist, Robert Rantoul, in 1799 ordered from
London filled boxes and bottles of Anderson's Pills, Bateman's Drops,
Steer's Opodeldoc, and Turlington's Balsam, along with the empty vials
in which to put British Oil and Essence of Peppermint.[72] For decades
thereafter the catalogs of wholesale drug firms continued to specify
two grades of various patent medicines for sale, termed "English" and
"American," "true" and "common," or "genuine" and "imitation."[73] This
had not been the case in patent medicine listings of 18th-century

      [71] Waldo, _op. cit._ (footnote 65).

      [72] Robert Rantoul, Apothecary daybooks, 3 vols., Beverly,
      Massachusetts [1796-1812]. Manuscript originals preserved in the
      Beverly Historical Society. Also see Robert W. Lovett, "Squire
      Rantoul and his drug store," _Bulletin of the Business Historical
      Society_, June 1951, vol. 25, pp. 99-114.

      [73] Joel and Jotham Post, _A catalogue of drugs, medicines &
      chemicals, sold wholesale & retail, by Joel and Jotham Post,
      druggists, corner of Wall and William-Streets_, New York, 1804;
      Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, _Catalogue of the materia
      medica and of the pharmaceutical preparations, with the uniform
      prices of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy_, Boston, 1828;
      George W. Carpenter, _Essays on some of the most important
      articles of the materia medica ... to which is added a catalogue
      of medicines, surgical instruments, etc._, Philadelphia, 1834.

      [74] John Dunlap, _Catalogus medicinarum et pharmacorum_,
      Philadelphia, 1771; John Day, _Catalogue of drugs, chymical and
      galenical preparations, shop furniture, patent medicines, and
      surgical instruments sold by John Day and Company, druggists and
      chymists in second-street_, Philadelphia, 1771; George
      Griffenhagen, "The Day-Dunlap 1771 pharmaceutical catalog,"
      _American Journal of Pharmacy_, September 1955, vol. 127, pp.
      296-302; also _The New York Physician and American Medicine_, May
      1956, vol. 46, pp. 42-44; Smith and Bartlett, _Catalogue of drugs
      and medicines, instruments and utensils, dyestuffs, groceries,
      and painters' colours, imported, prepared, and sold, by Smith and
      Bartlett, at their druggists store and apothecaries shop_,
      Boston, 1795.

[Illustration: Figure 9.--GODFREY'S CORDIAL, 19th-century bottles from
the Samuel Aker, David and George Kass collection, Albany, New York.
(_Smithsonian photo 44201-C._)]

In buying Anderson's and Bateman's remedies from London in 1799, Robert
Rantoul of Massachusetts specified that they be secured from Dicey. It
will be remembered that 60 years earlier William Dicey, John Cluer, and
Robert Raikes were the group of entrepreneurs who had aided Benjamin
Okell in patenting the pectoral drops bearing Bateman's name. Then and
throughout the century, this concern continued to operate a warehouse
in the Bow Churchyard, Cheapside, London. In 1721, it was known as the
"Printing-house and Picture Warehouse" of John Cluer, printer,[75] but
by 1790, it was simply the "Medicinal Warehouse" of Bow Churchyard,
Cheapside. This address lay in the center of the London area whence
came nearly all of the British goods exported to America.[76] It had
been the location of many merchants who had migrated to New England in
the 17th century, and these newcomers had done business with their
erstwhile associates who did not leave home. Thus were started trade
channels which continued to run. The Bow Churchyard Warehouse may have
been the major exporter of English patent medicines to colonial
America, although others of importance were located in the same London
region, in particular Robert Turlington of Lombard Street and Francis
Newbery of St. Paul's Churchyard. The significance of the fact that
there were key suppliers of patent medicines for the American market
lies in the selection process which resulted. Out of the several
hundred patent medicines which 18th-century Britain had available,
Americans dosed themselves with that score or more which the major
exporters shipped to colonial ports.

      [75] _London Mercury_, London, August 19-26, 1721.

      [76] Bernard Bailyn, _The New England merchants in the
      seventeenth century_, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1955, pp. 35-36.

Not only did the Bow Churchyard Warehouse firm have Bateman's Drops. It
will be remembered that in 1721 they advertised that they were
preparing Daffy's Elixir. In 1743, they and Newbery were made exclusive
vendors of Hooper's Pills.[77] By 1750, the firm was also marketing
British Oil, Anderson's Pills, and Stoughton's Elixir.[78] Turlington
in 1755 was selling not only his Balsam of Life, but was also vending
Daffy's Elixir, Godfrey's Cordial, and Stoughton's Elixir.[79] After
the tension of the Townshend Acts, it was the Bow Churchyard Warehouse
which supplied a Boston apothecary with a large supply of nostrums,
including all the eight patent medicines then in existence of the ten
with which this discussion is primarily concerned.[80] On November 29,
1770, the _Virginia Gazette_ (edited by Purdie and Dixon) reported a
shipment, including Bateman's, Hooper's, Betton's, Anderson's, and
Godfrey's remedies, just received "from Dr. Bateman's original
wholesale warehouse in London" (the Bow Churchyard Warehouse). When
Dalby's Carminative and Steer's Opodeldoc came on the market in the
1780's, it was Francis Newbery who had them for sale. Both the Newbery
and Dicey (Bow Churchyard Warehouse) firms continued to operate in the
post-Revolutionary years. Thus, it was no accident but rather vigorous
commercial promotion over the decades, that resulted in the most
popular items on the Dicey and Newbery lists appearing in the
Philadelphia College of Pharmacy pamphlet published in 1824. And
although the same old firms continued to export the same old medicines
to the new United States, the back of the business was broken. The
imitation spurred by wartime necessity became the post-war pattern.

      [77] _Daily Advertiser_, London, September 23, 1743.

      [78] "Dr. Bateman's Drops" (see footnote 7).

      [79] Turlington, _op. cit._ (footnote 15).

      [80] _Massachusetts Gazette_, Boston, December 21, 1769.

The key recipes were to be found in formula books. Beginning in the
1790's, even American editions of John Wesley's _Primitive physic_
included formulas for Daffy's, Turlington's, and Stoughton's remedies
which the founder of Methodism had introduced into English editions of
this guidebook to health shortly before his death.[81]

      [81] John Wesley, _Primitive physic_, 21st ed., London, 1785;
      _ibid._, 22nd ed., London, 1788; _ibid._, 16th Amer. ed.,
      Trenton, 1788; _ibid._, 22nd Amer. ed., Philadelphia, 1791;
      George Dock, "The 'primitive physic' of Rev. John Wesley,"
      _Journal of the American Medical Association_, February 20, 1915,
      vol. 64, pp. 629-638.

The homemade versions, as Jonathon Waldo had recorded (see p. 171),
were about half as costly. The state of affairs at the turn of the new
century is illustrated in the surviving business papers of the Beverly
druggist, Robert Rantoul. In 1799 he had imported the British Oil and
Essence of Peppermint bottles. In 1802 he reordered the latter,
specifying that they should not have molded in the glass the words "by
the Kings Patent." Rantoul wrote a formula for this nostrum in his
formula book, and from it he filled 66 bottles in December 1801 and 202
bottles in June 1803. About the same time he began making and bottling
Turlington's Balsam, ordering bottles of two sizes from London. His
formula book contains these entries: "Jany 4th, 1804 filled 54 small
turlingtons with 37 oz. Balsam," and "Jany 20th, 1804 filled 144 small
turlingtons with 90-1/4 oz. Balsam and 9 Large Bottles with 8-1/4

      [82] Rantoul, _op. cit._ (footnote 72).

Two decades later the imitation of the English proprietaries was even
bigger business. In 1821 William A. Brewer became apprenticed to a
druggist in Boston. A number of the old English brands, he recalled,
were still imported and sold at the time. But his apprenticeship years
were heavily encumbered with duties involving the American versions.
"Many, very many, days were spent," Brewer remembered, "in compounding
these imitations, cleaning the vials, fitting, corking, labelling,
stamping with fac-similes of the English Government stamp, and in
wrapping them, with ... little regard to the originator's rights, or
that of their heirs...." The British nostrums chiefly imitated in this
Boston shop were Steer's, Bateman's, Godfrey's, Dalby's, Betton's, and
Stoughton's. The last was a major seller. The store loft was mostly
filled with orange peel and gentian, and the laboratory had "a heavy
oaken press, fastened to the wall with iron clamps and bolts, which was
used in pressing out 'Stoughton's Bitters,' of which we usually
prepared a hogshead full at one time." A large quantity was needed. In
those days, Brewer asserted, "almost everybody indulged in Stoughton's
elixir as morning bitters." [83]

      [83] William A. Brewer, "Reminiscences of an old pharmacist."
      _Pharmaceutical Record_, August 1, 1884, vol. 4, p. 326.

[Illustration: Figure 10.--GODFREY'S CORDIAL, early 20th century
bottles manufactured in the U.S.A. (_U.S. National Museum cat. Nos.
M-6989, and M-6990; Smithsonian photo 44287 B._)]

Other drugstores certainly followed the practice of Brewer's employer,
in cleaning up and refilling bottles that had previously been drained
of their old English medicines. The chief source of bottles to hold the
American imitations, however, was the same as that to which Waldo and
Rantoul had turned, English glass factories. It was not so easy for
Americans to fabricate the vials as it was for them to compound the
mixtures to fill them. In the years before the War of 1812, the British
glass industry maintained a virtual monopoly of the specially-shaped
bottles for Bateman's, Turlington's, and the other British remedies.
When in the 1820's the first titan of made-in-America nostrums, Thomas
W. Dyott of Philadelphia, appeared upon the scene, this venturesome
entrepreneur decided to make bottles not only for his own assorted
remedies but also for the popular English brands. In time he succeeded
in improving the quality of American bottle glass and in drastically
reducing prices. The standard cost for most of the old English vials
under the British monopoly had been $5.50 a gross. By the early 1830's
Dyott had cut the price to under two dollars.[84]

      [84] _Democratic Press_, Philadelphia, July 1 and October 28,
      1824; Thomas W. Dyott, _An exposition of the system of moral and
      mental abor, established at the glass factory of Dyottsville_,
      Philadelphia, 1833; and Joseph D. Weeks, "Reports on the
      manufacture of glass," _Report of the manufactures of the United
      States at the tenth census_, Washington, D. C, 1883.

[Illustration: Figure 11.--AN ORIGINAL PACKAGE OF HOOPER'S PILLS, from
the Samuel Aker, David and George Kass collection, Albany, New York.
(_Smithsonian photo_ 44201.)]

Other American glass manufactories followed suit. For example, in 1835
the Free Will Glass Manufactory was making "Godfrey's Cordial,"
"Turlington's Balsam," and "Opodeldoc Bitters bottles."[85] An 1848
broadside entitled "The Glassblowers' List of Prices of Druggist's
Ware," a broadside preserved at the Smithsonian Institution, includes
listings for Turlington's Balsam, Godfrey's Cordial, Dalby's and Small
and Large Opodeldoc bottles, among many other American patent medicine

      [85] Van Rensscalar, _op. cit._, (footnote 53), p. 151.

In the daybook of the Beverly, Massachusetts, apothecary,[86] were
inscribed for Turlington's Balsam, three separate formulas, each
markedly different from the others. A Philadelphia medical journal in
1811 contained a complaint that Americans were using calomel in the
preparation of Anderson's Scots Pills, and that this practice was a
deviation both from the original formula and from the different but
still all-vegetable formula by which the pills were being made in
England.[87] Various books were published revealing the "true"
formulas, in conflicting versions.[88]

      [86] Rantoul, _op. cit._ (footnote 72).

      [87] _Philadelphia Medical Museum_, new ser., vol. 1, p. 130,

      [88] _Formulae selectae; or a collection of prescriptions of
      eminent physicians, and the most celebrated patent medicines_,
      New York, 1818; John Ayrton Paris, _Pharmacologia; or the history
      of medicinal substances, with a view to establish the art of
      prescribing and of composing extemporaneous formulae upon fixed
      and scientific principles_, New York, 1822.

Philadelphia College of Pharmacy Formulary

As the years went by and therapeutic laissez-faire continued to
operate, conditions worsened. By the early 1820's, the old English
patent medicines, whether of dwindling British vintage or of burgeoning
American manufacture, were as familiar as laudanum or castor oil.

With the demand so extensive and the state of production so chaotic,
the officials of the new Philadelphia College of Pharmacy were
persuaded that remedial action was mandatory. In May 1822, the Board of
Trustees resolved to appoint a 5-man committee "to select from such
prescriptions for the preparation of Patent Medicines ..., as may be
submitted to them by the members of the College, those which in their
opinion, may be deemed most appropriate for the different

The committee chose for study "eight of the Patent Medicines most in
use," and sought to ascertain what ingredients these ancient remedies
ought by right to contain. Turning to the original formulas, where
these were given in English patent specifications, the pharmacists soon
became convinced that the information provided by the original
proprietors served "only to mislead."

If the patent specifications were perhaps intentionally confusing, the
committee inquired, how could the original formulas really be known?
This quest seemed so fruitless that it was not pursued. Instead the
pharmacists turned to American experience in making the English
medicines. From many members of the College, and from other pharmacists
as well, recipes were secured. The result was shocking. Although almost
every one came bolstered with the assertion that it was true and
genuine, the formulas differed so markedly one from the other, the
committee reported, as to make "the task of reformation a very
difficult one." Indeed, in some cases, when two recipes bearing the
same old English name were compared, they were found to contain not one
ingredient in common. In other cases, the proportions of some basic
ingredient would vary widely. All the formulas collected for Bateman's
Pectoral Drops, for instance, contained opium, but the amount of opium
to liquid ingredients in one formula submitted was 1 to 14, while in
another it was 1 to 1,000.

Setting forth boldly to strip these English nostrums of "their
extravagant pretensions," the committee sought to devise formulas for
their composition as simple and inexpensive as possible while yet
retaining the "chief compatible virtues" ascribed to them on the
traditional wrappers.

Hooper's Female Pills had been from the beginning a cathartic and
emmenagogue. However, only aloes was common to all the recipes
submitted to the committee. This botanical, which still finds a place
in laxative products today, was retained by the committee as the
cathartic base, and to it were added "the Extract of Hellebore, the
Sulphate of Iron and the Myrrh as the best emmenagogues."

Anderson's Scots Pills had been a "mild" purgative throughout its long
career, varying in composition "according to the judgement or fancy of
the preparer." Paris, an English physician, had earlier reported that
these pills consisted of aloes and jalap; the committee decided on
aloes, with small amounts of colocynth and gamboge, as the purgatives
of choice.

Of Bateman's Pectoral Drops more divergent versions existed than of any
of the others. The committee settled on a formula of opium and camphor,
not unlike paragoric in composition, with catachu, anise flavoring, and
coloring added. Godfrey's Cordial also featured opium in widely varying
amounts. The committee chose a formula which would provide a grain of
opium per ounce, to which was added sassafras "as the carminative which
has become one of the chief features of the medicine."

English apothecary Dalby had introduced his "Carminative" for "all
those fatal Disorders in the Bowels of Infants." The committee decided
that a grain of opium to the ounce, together with magnesia and three
volatile oils, were essential "for this mild carminative and laxative
... for children."

Instead of the complex formula described by Robert Turlington for his
Balsam of Life, the committee settled on the official formula of
Compound Tincture of Benzoin, with balsam of peru, myrrh, and angelica
root added, to produce "an elegant and rich balsamic tincture." On the
other hand, the committee adopted "with slight variations, the
Linimentum Saponis of the old London Dispensatory" to which they, like
Steers, added only ammonia.

The committee found two distinct types of British Oil on the market.
One employed oil of turpentine as its basic ingredient, while the other
utilized flaxseed oil. The committee decided that both oils, along with
several others in lesser quantities, were necessary to produce a
medicine "as exhibited in the directions" sold with British Oil. "Oil
of Bricks" which apparently was the essential ingredient of the Betton
British Oil, was described by the committee as "a nauseous and
unskilful preparation, which has long since been banished from the

Thus the Philadelphia pharmacists devised eight new standardized
formulas, aimed at retaining the therapeutic goals of the original
patent medicines, while brought abreast of current pharmaceutical
knowledge. Recognizing that the labeling had long contained
"extravagant pretensions and false assertions," the committee
recommended that the wrappers be modified to present only truthful
claims. If the College trustees should adopt the changes suggested, the
committee concluded optimistically, then "the reputation of the College
preparations would soon become widely spread, and we ... should reap
the benefit of the examination which has now been made, in an increased
public confidence in the Institution and its members; the influence of
which would be felt in extending the drug business of our city."[89]

      [89] Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, _Formulae for the
      preparation of eight patent medicines, adopted by the
      Philadelphia College of Pharmacy_, May 4, 1824; Joseph W.
      England, ed., _The first century of the Philadelphia College of
      Pharmacy_, 1821-1921, Philadelphia, 1922.

The trustees felt this counsel to be wise, and ordered 250 copies of
the 12-page pamphlet to be printed. So popular did this first major
undertaking of the Philadelphia College prove that in 1833 the formulas
were reprinted in the pages of the journal published by the
College.[90] Again the demand was high, few numbers of the publication
were "more sought after," and in 1839 the formulas were printed once
again, this time with slight revisions.[91]

      [90] "Patent medicines," _Journal of the Philadelphia College of
      Pharmacy_, April 1833, vol. 5, pp. 20-31.

      [91] C. Ellis, "Patent medicines," _American Journal of
      Pharmacy_, April 1839, new ser., vol. 5, pp. 67-74.

Thus had the old English patent medicines reached a new point in their
American odyssey. They had first crossed the Atlantic to serve the
financial interests of the men who promoted them. During the Revolution
they had lost their British identity while retaining their British
names. The Philadelphia pharmacists, while adopting them and reforming
their character, did not seek to monopolize them, as had the original
proprietors. They now could work for every man.

English Patent Medicines Go West

The double reprinting of the formulas was one token of the continuing
role in American therapy of the old English patent medicines. There
were others. In 1829 with the establishment of a school of pharmacy in
New York City, the Philadelphia formulas were accepted as standard. The
new labels devised by the Philadelphians with their more modest claims
of efficacy had a good sale.[92] It was doubtless the Philadelphia
recipes which went into the Bateman and Turlington and Godfrey vials
with which a new druggist should be equipped "at the outset of
business," according to a book of practical counsel.[93] To local
merchants who lacked the knowledge or time to do it themselves,
drummers and peddlers vended the medicines already bottled. "Doctor"
William Euen of Philadelphia issued a pamphlet in 1840 to introduce his
son to "Physicians and Country Merchants." His primary concern was
dispensing nostrums bearing his own label, but his son was also
prepared to take orders for the old English patent medicines.[94]
Manufacturers and wholesalers of much better repute were prepared to
sell bottles for the same brands, empty or filled.

      [92] England, _op. cit._ (footnote 89), pp. 73, 103.

      [93] Carpenter, _op. cit._ (footnote 73).

      [94] William Euen, _A short exposé on quackery ... or,
      introduction of his son to physicians and country merchants_,
      Philadelphia, 1840.

FEMALE PILLS, an assortment of packages of from the Samuel Aker, David
and George Kass collection, Albany, New York. (_Smithsonian photo

In the early 1850's a young pharmacist in upstate New York,[95] using
"old alcohol barrels for tanks," worked hard at concocting Bateman's
and Godfrey's and Steer's remedies. John Uri Lloyd of Cincinnati
recalled having compounded Godfrey's Cordial and Bateman's Drops,
usually making ten gallons in a single batch.[96] Out in Wisconsin,
another druggist was buying Godfrey's Cordial bottles at a dollar for
half a gross, sticking printed directions on them that cost twelve
cents for the same quantity, and selling the medicine at four ounces
for a quarter.[97] He also sold British Oil and Opodeldoc, the same old
English names dispensed by a druggist in another Wisconsin town, who in
addition kept Bateman's Oil in stock at thirteen cents the bottle.[98]
Godfrey's was listed in the 1860 inventory of an Illinois general store
at six cents a bottle.[99]

      [95] James Winchell Forbes, "The memoirs of an American
      pharmacist," _Midland Druggist and Pharmaceutical Review_, 1911,
      vol. 45, pp. 388-395.

      [96] John Uri Lloyd, "Eclectic fads," _Eclectic Medical Journal_,
      October 1921, vol. 81, p. 2.

      [97] Cody & Johnson Drug Co., Apothecary daybooks, Watertown,
      Wisconsin [1851-1872]. Manuscript originals preserved in the
      State Historical Society of Wisconsin, cataloged under "Cady."

      [98] Swarthout and Silsbee, Druggists daybook, Columbus,
      Wisconsin [1852-1853]. Manuscript original preserved in the State
      Historical Society of Wisconsin.

      [99] McClaughry and Tyler, Invoice book, Fountain Green, Illinois
      [1860-1877]. Manuscript original preserved in the Illinois State
      Historical Society, Springfield.

Farther west the same familiar names appeared. Indeed, the old English
patent medicines had long since moved westward with fur trader and
settler. As early as 1783, a trader in western Canada, shot by a rival,
called for Turlington's Balsam to stop the bleeding. Alas, in this
case, the remedy failed to work.[100] In 1800 that inveterate Methodist
traveler, Bishop Francis Asbury, resorted to Stoughton's Elixir when
afflicted with an intestinal complaint.[101] In 1808, some two months
after the first newspaper began publishing west of the Mississippi
River, a local store advised readers in the vicinity of St. Louis that
"a large supply of patent medicines" had just been received, among them
Godfrey's Cordial, British Oil, Turlington's Balsam, and Steer's
"Ofodeldo [sic]."[102]

      [100] Harold A. Innis, _Peter Pond, fur trader and adventurer_,
      Toronto, 1930.

      [101] Peter Oliver, "Notes on science, medicine and public health
      in the United States in the year 1800," _Bulletin of the History
      of Medicine_. 1944, vol. 16, p. 129.

      [102] Isaac Lionberger, "Advertisements in the Missouri Gazette,
      1808-1811," _Missouri Historical Society Collections_, 1928-1931,
      vol. 6, p. 21.

Turlington's product played a particular role in the Indian trade, thus
demonstrating that the red man has not been limited in nostrum history
to providing medical secrets for the white man to exploit. Proof of
this has been demonstrated by archaeologists working under the auspices
of the Smithsonian Institution in both North and South Dakota. Two
pear-shaped bottles with Turlington's name and patent claims embossed
in the glass were excavated by a Smithsonian Institution River Basin
Surveys expedition in 1952, on the site of an old trading post known as
Fort Atkinson or Fort Bethold II, situated some 16 miles southeast of
the present Elbowoods, North Dakota. In 1954 the North Dakota
Historical Society found a third bottle nearby. These posts, operated
from the mid-1850's to the mid-1880's, served the Hidatsa and Mandan
Indians who dwelt in a town named Like-a-Fishhook Village. The medicine
bottles were made of cast glass, light green in color, probably of
American manufacture. More interesting is the bottle from South Dakota.
It was excavated in 1923 near Mobridge at a site which was the
principal village of the Arikara Indians from about 1800 to 1833, a
town visited by Lewis and Clark as they ascended the Missouri River in
1804. This bottle, made of English lead glass and therefore an imported
article, was unearthed from a grave in the Indian burying ground.
Throughout history the claims made in behalf of patent medicines have
been extreme. This Turlington bottle, however, affords one of the few
cases on record wherein such a medicine has been felt to possess a
postmortem utility.[103]

      [103] Wedel and Griffenhagen, _op. cit._ (footnote 54).

Fur traders were still using old English patent medicines at
mid-century. Four dozen bottles of Turlington's Balsam were included in
an "Inventory of Stock the property of Pierre Chouteau, Jr. and Co.
U[pper], M[issouri]. On hand at Fort Benton 4th May 1851...."[104] In
the very same year, out in the new State of California, one of the
early San Francisco papers listed Stoughton's Bitters as among the
merchandise for sale at a general store.[105]

      [104] A. McDonnell, _Contributions to the Historical Society of
      Montana_, 1941, vol. 10, pp. 202, 217.

      [105] _California Daily Courier_, San Francisco, April 25, 1851.

Newspaper advertising of the English proprietaries--even the mere
listing so common during the late colonial years--became very rare
after the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy pamphlet was issued.
Apothecary George J. Fischer of Frederick, Maryland, might mention
seven of the old familiar names in 1837,[106] and another druggist in
the same city might present a shorter list in 1844,[107] but such
advertising was largely gratuitous. Since the English patent medicines
had become every druggist's property, people who felt the need of such
dosage would expect every druggist to have them in stock. There was no
more need to advertise them than there was to advertise laudanum or
leeches or castor oil. Even the Supreme Court of Massachusetts in 1837
took judicial cognizance of the fact that the old English patent
medicine names had acquired a generic meaning descriptive of a general
class of medicines, names which everyone was free to use and no one
could monopolize.[108]

      [106] _Political Examiner_, Frederick, Maryland, April 19, 1837.

      [107] _Frederick Examiner_, Frederick, Maryland, January 31,

      [108] _Massachusetts Supreme Court_, Thomson vs. Winchester, 19
      Pick (Mass.), p. 214, March 1837.

As the years went by, and as advertising did not keep the names of the
old English medicines before the eyes of customers, it is a safe
assumption that their use declined. Losing their original proprietary
status, they were playing a different role. New American proprietaries
had stolen the appeal and usurped the function which Bateman's Drops
and Turlington's Balsam had possessed in 18th-century London and Boston
and Williamsburg. As part of the cultural nationalism that had
accompanied the Revolution, American brands of nostrums had come upon
the scene, promoted with all the vigor and cleverness once bestowed in
English but not in colonial American advertising upon Dalby's
Carminative and others of its kind. While these English names retreated
from American advertising during the 19th century, vast blocks of space
in the ever-larger newspapers were devoted to extolling the merits of
Dyott's Patent Itch Ointment, Swaim's Panacea, and Brandreth's Pills.
More and more Americans were learning how to read, as free public
education spread. Persuaded by the frightening symptoms and the
glorious promises, citizens with a bent toward self-dosage flocked to
buy the American brands. Druggists and general stores stocked them and
made fine profits.[109] While bottles of British Oil sold two for a
quarter in 1885 Wisconsin, one bottle of Jayne's Expectorant retailed
for a dollar.[110] It is no wonder that, although the old English names
continue to appear in the mid-19th-century and later druggists'
catalogs and price currents,[111] they are muscled aside by the
multitude of brash American nostrums. Many of the late 19th century
listings continued to follow the procedure set early in the century of
specifying two grades of the various patent medicines, _i.e._,
"English" and "American," "genuine" and "imitation," "U.S." and
"stamped." American manufactories specializing in pharmaceutical
glassware continued to offer the various English patent medicine
bottles until the close of the century.[112]

      [109] James Harvey Young, "Patent medicines: the early
      post-frontier phase," _Journal of the Illinois State Historical
      Society_, Autumn 1953, vol. 46, pp. 254-264.

      [110] Cody and Johnson Drug Co., _op. cit._ (footnote 97).

      [111] Van Schaack, Stevenson & Reid, _Annual prices current_,
      Chicago, 1875; Morrison, Plummer & Co., _Price current of drugs,
      chemicals, oils, glassware, patent medicines, druggists sundries
      ..._, Chicago, 1880.

      [112] Hagerty Bros. & Co., _Catalogue of Druggists' glassware,
      sundries, fancy goods, etc._, New York, 1879; Whitall, Tatum &
      Co., _Annual price list_, Millville, New Jersey, 1898.

[Illustration: Figure 13.--OPODELDOC BOTTLE from the collection of Mrs.
Leo F. Redden, Kenmore, New York. (_Smithsonian photo 44201-E._)]

In a thesaurus published in 1899, Godfrey's, Bateman's, Turlington's,
and other of the old English patent remedies were termed "extinct
patents."[113] The adjective referred to the status of the patent, not
the condition of the medicines. If less prominent than in the olden
days, the medicines were still alive. The first edition of the
_National Formulary_, published in 1888, had cited the old English
names as synonyms for official preparations in four cases, Dalby's,
Bateman's, Godfrey's and Turlington's.

      [113] Emil Hiss, _Thesaurus of proprietary preparations and
      pharmaceutical specialties_, Chicago, 1899, p. 12.

[Illustration: Figure 14.--OPODELDOC BOTTLE as illustrated in the 1879
Catalog of Hagerty Bros., New York City, New York.]

Thus as the present century opened, the old English patent medicines
were still being sold. City druggists were dispensing them over their
counters, and the peddler's wagon carried them to remote rural
regions.[114] But the medical scene was changing rapidly. Improvements
in medical science, stemming in part from the establishment of the germ
theory of disease, were providing a better yardstick against which to
measure the therapeutic efficiency of proprietary remedies. Medical
ethics were likewise advancing, and the occasional critic among the
ranks of physicians was being joined by scores of his fellow
practitioners in lambasting the brazen effrontery of the hundreds of
American cure-alls which advertised from newspaper and roadside sign.
Journalists joined doctors in condemning nostrums. Samuel Hopkins Adams
in particular, writing "The Great American Fraud" series for _Collier's
Weekly_, frightened and aroused the American public with his exposure
of cheap whiskey posing as consumption cures and soothing syrups filled
with opium. Then came a revolution in public policy. After a long and
frustrating legislative prelude, Congress in June of 1906 passed, and
President Theodore Roosevelt signed, the first Pure Food and Drugs Act.
The law contained clauses aimed at curtailing the worst features of the
patent medicine evil.

      [114] Robert B. Nixon, Jr., _Corner druggist_, New York, 1941,
      p. 68.

The Patent Medicines In The 20th Century

Although the old English patent medicines had not been the target at
which disturbed physicians and "muck-raking" journalists had taken aim,
these ancient remedies were governed by provisions of the new law. In
November 1906 the Bureau of Chemistry of the Department of Agriculture,
in charge of administering the new federal statute, received a letter
from a wholesale druggist in Evansville, Indiana. One of his stocks in
trade, the druggist wrote, was a remedy called Godfrey's Cordial. He
realized that the Pure Food and Drugs Act had something to do with the
labeling of medicines containing opium, as Godfrey's did, and he wanted
to know from the Bureau just what was required of him.[115] Many
manufacturing druggists and producers of medicine were equally anxious
to learn how the law would affect them. The editors of a trade paper,
the _American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record_, issued warnings and
gave advice. It was still the custom, they noted, to wrap bottles of
ancient patent medicines, like Godfrey's Cordial and Turlington's
Balsam, in facsimiles of the original circulars, on which were printed
extravagant claims and fabulous certificates of cures that dated back
some two hundred years. The new law was not going to permit the
continuation of such 18th-century practices. Statements on the label
"false or misleading in any particular" were banned.[116]

      [115] Letter from Charles Leich & Co. to Harvey Washington Wiley,
      Bureau of Chemistry, Department of Agriculture, November 2, 1906.
      Manuscript original in Record Group 97, National Archives,
      Washington, D.C.

      [116] _American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record_, 1906, vol.
      49, pp. 343-344.

A few manufacturers, as the years went by, fell afoul of this and other
provisions of the law. In 1918 a Reading, Pennsylvania, firm entered a
plea of guilty and received a fifty dollar fine for putting on the
market an adulterated and misbranded version of Dr. Bateman's Pectoral
Drops.[117] The law required that all medicines sold under a name
recognized in the _United States pharmacopoeia_ or the _National
formulary_, and Bateman's was included in the latter, must not differ
from the standard of strength, quality, or purity as established by
these volumes. Yet the Bateman Drops produced in Reading, the
government charged, fell short. They contained only 27.8 percent of the
alcohol and less than a tenth of the morphine that they should have
had. While short on active ingredients, the Drops were long on claims.
The wrapper boasted that the medicine was "effective as a remedy for
all fluxes, spitting of blood, agues, measles, colds, coughs, and to
put off the most violent fever; as a treatment, remedy, and cure for
stone and gravel in the kidneys, bladder, and urethra, shortness of
breath, straightness of the breast; and to rekindle the most natural
heat in the bodies by which they restore the languishing to perfect
health." Okell and Dicey had scarcely promised more. By 20th-century
standards, the government asserted, these claims were false and

      [117] Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Chemistry, Notices of
      Judgment under the Food and Drugs Act, Notice of Judgment 6222,
      United States vs. Pabst Pure Extract Co., 1919.

Other manufacturers sold Bateman's Drops without running afoul of the
law. In 1925, ninety-nine years after the Philadelphia College of
Pharmacy pamphlet was printed, one North Carolina firm was persuaded
that it still was relevant to tell potential customers, in a handbill,
that its Drops were being made in strict conformity with the College
formula.[118] For Compound Tincture of Opium and Gambir Compound,
however, most manufacturers chose to follow the _National formulary_
specifications, which remained official until 1936.

      [118] Original handbill, distributed by Standard Drug Co.,
      Elizabeth City, North Carolina, 1925, preserved in the files of
      the Bureau of Investigation, American Medical Association,
      Chicago, Ill.

Another old English patent medicine against which the Department of
Agriculture was forced to take action was Hooper's Female Pills.
Between 1919 and 1923, government agents seized a great many shipments
of this ancient remedy in versions put out by three Philadelphia
concerns.[119] Some of the packages bore red seals, others green seals,
and still others black, but the labeling of all claimed them to be "a
safe and sovereign remedy in female complaints." This theme was
expanded in considerable detail and there was an 18th-century ring to
the promise that the pills would work a sure cure "in all
hypochondriac, hysterick or vapourish disorders." No pill made
essentially of aloes and ferrous sulphate, said the government experts,
could do these things. Nor did the manufacturers, in court, seek to say
otherwise. Whether the seals were green or red, whether the packages
were seized in Washington or Worcester, the result was the same. No
party appeared in court to claim the pills, and they were condemned and

      [119] Multiple seizures were made of products shipped by the
      Horace B. Taylor Co., Fore & Co., and the American Synthetic Co.
      The quotations are from Notice of Judgment 8868; see also 8881,
      8914, 8936, 8956, 8974, 9134, 9147, 9203, 9510, 9586, 9785,
      10203, 10204, 10629, 11519, 11669.

In one of the last actions under the 1906 law, a case concluded in
1940, after the first federal statute had been superseded by a more
rigorous one enacted in 1938, two of the old English patent medicines
encountered trouble.[120] They were British Oil and Dalby's
Carminative, as prepared by the South Carolina branch of a large
pharmaceutical manufacturing concern.

      [120] Federal Security Agency, Food and Drug Administration,
      Notice of Judgment 31134, United States vs. McKesson and Robbins,
      Inc., Murray Division, 1942.

According to the label, the British Oil was made in conformity with the
Philadelphia College of Pharmacy formula given in an outdated edition
of the _United States dispensatory_. But instead of containing a proper
amount of linseed oil, if indeed it contained any, the medicine was
made with cottonseed oil, an ingredient not mentioned in the
Dispensatory. Therefore, the government charged, the Oil was
adulterated, under that provision of the law requiring a medicine to
maintain the strength and purity of any standard it professed to
follow. More than that, the labeling contravened the law since it
represented the remedy as an effective treatment for various swellings,
inflammations, fresh wounds, earaches, shortnesses of breath, and

Dalby's Carminative was merely misbranded, but that was bad enough. Its
label suggested that it be used especially "For Infants Afflicted With
Wind, Watery Gripes, Fluxes and Other Disorders of the Stomach and
Bowels," although it would aid adults as well. The impression that this
remedy was capable of curing such afflictions, the government charged,
was false and fraudulent. Moreover, since the Carminative contained
opium, it was not a safe medicine when given according to the dosage
directions in a circular accompanying the bottle. For these and several
other violations of the law, the defending company, which did not
contest the case, was fined a hundred dollars.

Throughout the 19th century, occasional criticism of the old English
patent medicines had been made in the lay press. One novel[121]
describes a physician who comments on the use of Dalby's Carminative
for babies: "Don't, for pity's sake, vitiate and torment your poor
little angel's stomach, so new to the atrocities of this world, with
drugs. These mixers of baby medicines ought to be fed nothing but their
own nostrums. That would put a stop to their inventions of the

      [121] John William De Forest, _Miss Ravenel's conversion from
      secession to loyalty_, New York, 1867.

Opium had been lauded in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the old
English proprietaries began, as a superior cordial which could moderate
most illnesses and even cure some. "Medicine would be a one-armed man
if it did not possess this remedy." So had stated the noted English
physician, Thomas Sydenham.[122] But the 20th century had grown to fear
this powerful narcotic, especially in remedies for children. This point
of view, illustrated in the governmental action concerning Dalby's
Carminative, was also reflected in medical comment about Godfrey's
Cordial. During 1912, a Missouri physician described the death of a
baby who had been given this medicine for a week.[123] The symptoms
were those of opium poisoning. Deploring the naming of this "dangerous
mixture" a "cordial," since the average person thought of a cordial as
beneficial, the doctor hoped that the formula might be omitted from the
next edition of the _National formulary_. This did not happen, for the
recipe hung on until 1926. The Harrison Narcotic Act, enacted in 1914
as a Federal measure to restrict the distribution of narcotics,[124]
failed to restrict the sale of many opium-bearing compounds like
Godfrey's Cordial. In 1931, a Tennessee resident complained to the
medical journal _Hygeia_ that this medication was "sold in general
stores and drug stores here without prescription and is given to
babies." To this, the journal replied that the situation was "little
short of criminal."[125] The charge leveled against his competitors by
one of the first producers of Godfrey's Cordial two centuries earlier
(see page 158) may well have proved a prophecy broad enough to cover
the whole history of this potent nostrum. "... Many Men, Women, and
especially Infants," he said, "may fall as Victims, whose Slain may
exceed Herod's Cruelty...."

      [122] Charles H. LaWall, _The curious lore of drugs and medicines
      (Four thousand years of pharmacy)_, Garden City, New York, 1927,
      p. 281.

      [123] W. B. Sissons, "Poisoning from Godfrey's Cordial," _Journal
      of the American Medical Association_, March 2, 1912, vol. 58, p.

      [124] Edward Kremers and George Urdang, _History of pharmacy_,
      Philadelphia, 1951, pp. 170, 278.

      [125] "Godfrey's Cordial," _Hygeia_, October 1931, vol. 9, p.

[Illustration: Figure 15.--TURLINGTON'S BALSAM OF LIFE bottles as
pictured in a brochure dated 1755-1757, preserved in the Pennsylvania
Historical Society, Philadelphia, Pa. According to Turlington, the
bottle was adopted in 1754 "to prevent the villainy of some persons
who, buying up my empty bottles, have basely and wickedly put therein a
vile spurious counterfeit sort."]

For those who persist in using the formulas of the early English patent
medicines, recipes are still available. Turlington's Balsam remains
as an unofficial synonym of U.S.P. Compound Tincture of Benzoin.
Concerning its efficacy, the _United States dispensatory_[126] states:
"The tincture is occasionally employed internally as a stimulating
expectorant in chronic bronchitis. More frequently it is used as an
inhalent ... It has also been recommended in chronic dysentery ... but
is of doubtful utility."

      [126] _The dispensatory of the United States of America_, 25th
      ed., Philadelphia, 1955, p. 158.

A formula for Godfrey's Cordial, under the title of Mixture of Opium
and Sassafras, is still carried in the _Pharmaceutical recipe
book_.[127] _Remington's practice of pharmacy_[128] retains a formula
for Dalby's Carminative under the former _National formulary_ title of
Carminative Mixture.

      [127] _The Pharmaceutical recipe book_, 2nd ed., American
      Pharmaceutical Association, 1936, p. 121.

      [128] Eric W. Martin and E. Fullerton Cook, editors, _Remington's
      practice of pharmacy_, 11th ed., Easton, Pennsylvania, 1956, p.

In the nation of their origin, the continuing interest in the ancient
proprietaries seems somewhat more lively than in America. The 1953
edition of _Pharmaceutical formulas_, published by the London journal
_The Chemist and Druggist_, includes formulas for eight of the ten old
patent medicines described in this study. This compendium, indeed,
lists not one, but three different recipes for British Oil, and the
formulas by which Dalby's Carminative may be compounded run on to a
total of eight. Two lineal descendents of 18th-century firms which took
the lead in exporting to America still manufacture remedies made so
long ago by their predecessors. May, Roberts & Co., Ltd., of London,
successors to the Newbery interests, continues to market Hooper's
Female Pills, whereas W. Sutton & Co. (Druggists' Sundries), London,
Ltd., of Enfield, in Middlesex, successors to Dicey & Co. at Bow
Churchyard, currently sells Bateman's Pectoral Drops.[129]

      [129] Letter from Owen H. Waller, editor of _The Chemist and
      Druggist_, to George Griffenhagen, January 15, 1957.

In America, however, the impact of the old English patent medicines has
been largely absorbed and forgotten. During the past twenty years a
revolution in medical therapy has taken place. Most of the drugs in use
today were unknown a quarter of a century ago. Some of the newer drugs
can really perform certain of the healing miracles claimed by their
pretentious proprietors for the old English patent medicines.

A more recent import from Britain, penicillin, may prove to have an
even longer life on these shores than did Turlington's Balsam or
Bateman's Drops. Still, two hundred years is a long time. Despite the
fact that these early English patent medicines are nearly forgotten by
the public today, their American career is none the less worth tracing.
It reflects aspects not only of medical and pharmaceutical history, but
of colonial dependence, cultural nationalism, industrial development,
and popular psychology. It reveals how desperate man has been when
faced with the terrors of disease, how he has purchased the packaged
promises offered by the sincere but deluded as well as by the
charlatan. It shows how science and law have combined to offer man some
safeguards against deception in his pursuit of health.

The time seems ripe to write the epitaph of the old English patent
medicines in America. That they are now a chapter of history is a token
of medical progress for mankind.

[Illustration: Figure 16.--TURLINGTON'S BALSAM OF LIFE BOTTLE (all four
sides) found in an Indian grave at Mobridge, South Dakota; now
preserved in the U.S. National Museum. (_Cat. No. 32462, Archeol.;
Smithsonian photo 42936-A._)]

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