Going to auction sales tells us as much about the past as any history book. The day to day of how people ate, lived, dressed, and coped with various maladies such as colds, fevers, headaches, toothaches, and the like is present in the tools, kitchen wares, packaging, and clothing of the recent past. By recent, I mean in the century past since I was born halfway through it.
Tidying up a display of old time medicine bottles picked up auction sales, I thought to share them with you. They seem quaint by today’s sophisticated pharmaceutical standards.
Here we have Pineoleum which was often used with a nebulizer, a device that consisted of a bottle with an rubber bulb that was squeezed to spray the remedy into the nasal or throat passages. Recommended for oral hygiene or coughs & cold, it contained menthol, camphor, oils of cassia, eucalyptus, pine needles and refined petrolatum. Having learned a little about essential oils, these ingredients would likely have been effective at providing some relief.
This is an old standby of my childhood: Vaseline. Used for scrapes, chapped lips, and dry skin mainly; the jar also indicates it’s recommended for burns, hemorrhoids and coughs. Vaseline is a brand name for refined petroleum jelly in the same way Kleenex has become synonymous with tissue.
Golden Rod Indian Liniment – I’m not sure if the ‘Indian’ is to impart a mystical native aura to the cure, but golden rod has a well known reputation soothing hurt, strained or damaged muscles. Many herbals have recipes for tinctures and oils that include golden rod. This bottle had instructions to add a few drops to hot water for inhaling as relief for catarrh and coughs.
Baby’s Own Fuller’s Earth was a commonly used ‘baby powder’ for diaper rash and after bath for infants. Another name for it is kaolin clay powder which is found in facial products nowadays. In the 50s & 60s Fuller’s Earth was an ingredient in Minipoo, a dry shampoo product: “when you can’t shampoo, Minipoo!” Anyone over the age of 60 will remember this as a household staple.