Alex and I did a little more antique shopping on Sunday, this time with our buddy Skennedy, who was looking for an old ham radio microphone. No luck on the mic, unfortunately, but I did pick up a couple of things while we were there. For some reason, I found the bottle above quite charming. It has a nice shape and feels good in the hands, it was clearly old which I could tell by the way the glass was cloudy and had that type color changing that looks rainbow like (does anyone know what this effect is called?) which happens to old glass. I also liked the wording that was stamped into the glass: "Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound". It sounds so old fashioned and curious! The bottle was only $12 and I thought it would look nice in my house somewhere or as a display, so I picked it up.
When I came home, a quick internet search showed me that this Vegetable Compound was a very popular herbal concoction. There is quite a bit of info about it on Wikipedia. Here are some of my favorite facts:
"Lydia Estes Pinkham (February 9, 1819 – May 17, 1883) was an iconic concocter and shrewd marketer of a commercially successful herbal-alcoholic "women's tonic" meant to relieve menstrual and menopausal pains.
Lydia initially made the remedy on her stove before its success enabled production to be transferred to a factory, she answered letters from customers and probably wrote most of the advertising copy. Mass marketed from 1876 on, Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound became one of the best known patent medicines of the 19th century. Descendants of this product are still available today. Lydia's skill was in marketing her product directly to women and her company continued her shrewd marketing tactics after her death. Her own face was on the label and her company was particularly keen on the use of testimonials from grateful women.
Advertising copy urged women to write to Mrs. Pinkham. They did, and they received answers. They continued to write and receive answers for decades after Lydia Pinkham's death. These staff-written answers combined forthright talk about women's medical issues, advice, and, of course, recommendations for her product. In 1905 the Ladies' Home Journal published a photograph of Lydia Pinkham's tombstone and exposed the ruse. The Pinkham company insisted that it had never meant to imply that the letters were being answered by Lydia Pinkham, but by her daughter-in-law, Jennie Pinkham.
Although Pinkham's motives were partly self-serving, many modern-day feminists admire her for distributing information on menstruation and the "facts of life" and consider her to be a crusader for women's health issues in a day when women were poorly served by the medical establishment.
In a day when the mainstream treatment of these conditions was sometimes surgical removal of ovaries—with a mortality rate of 40%—it can be argued that at the very least Pinkham's remedy followed the sound medical principle of "first, do no harm." "
So popular was this compound, a folk drinking song called Lily the Pink was made with it as inspiration. While the origin of the song is much older, the UK comedy troup The Scaffolds had a hit with their version in 1968. What a bunch of goofballs! And of course, I have been walking around the house singing along to this song. I might even be marching around, singing along, with the old bottle in hand... I am snowed in and stir crazy... LOL... don't judge me!
In the same booth, I found this simple copper drinking cup for $2.50. Not really usable the way it is, but it would look great with a steampunk costume.
I am really pleased with these treasures that I found!
Melanie is an artist, blogger, writer, and ceramic beadmaker at Earthenwood Studio. Her beads and components can be found at her Etsy shop and her jewelry can be found in her Etsy Galleria. To comment on this post, visit the original post at the Earthenwood Studio Chronicles Blog.