A few weeks ago on town cleanup day, a bunch of us collected trash along the stretch of tracks that I have been pushing as a potential biking rail tail. Along with some golf balls, I pocketed a small brown patent medicine bottle.
While pushing unfilled orders and unpaid bills around on my desk, – I finally got around to googling the thing. Due to the preponderance of the number of patent medicines and the makers, there are very few actual references for this particular bottle. It took me all of fifteen minutes to find the history behind it; something which would have taken many pre-google months.
Google Books surrendered references to Gauvin’s Cough Syrup made by JAE Gauvin of Montreal, which consisted of extracts of wild cherry bark, spruce gum, sugar, alcohol and water. And Googling JAE Gauvin, I found that the company had US distribution in Lowell, MA where my bottle was produced about 1911.
Googling around a bit more I found that the Patent Medicine boom from the 1910s was about to go bust in 1919 for Gauvins as US Government began seizing the shipments routed (smuggled?) through Maine, declaring them mis-branded. Gauvin’s had flogged their two ounces of wild cherry and alcohol as a remedy for all manner of throat and pulmonary diseases, from catarrh to whopping cough – oops. I didn’t find many mentions of Gauvin’s after 1922 – so I can only deduce they gave up on the cross border market. However their anis flavored children’s syrup sounded much more useful as it contained an unknown amount of morphine. Now THAT will put a smile on your face.
Some days I think we forget to be in awe of the great googly moogly, preferring to kick it swiftly in the backside because as yet it hasn’t figure out how to be everything to everybody without costing anyone anything. Personally I try to savor tiny adventures in time travel contained in little brown bottles.