antique SAMPLEMEDICINES bottles

We think of a sample as small portion ofsomething to show the character of quality of the whole. A commonmarketing technique used through the ages has been that of thesalesman offering a free sample of his product to the prospectivebuyer. Many paten or proprietary medicine vendors used thismethod, and left us bottles embossed “sample” or“free sample”. Most are small, common, and notparticularly attractive. However, I am aware of two from wellknown companies that were quite rare: Free Sample / Warner's SafeRemedy / Rochester, N.Y., bimal, amber, round, 4 1/2 inches tall,and Dr. Kilmer's / Ocean-weed Heart Remedy / Binghamton, N.Y.,bimal, aqua, round, 4 1/2 inches tall. If you come across one ofthese and can afford it, grab it up! All are not small. John Wolfof Ohio, owns one that is 9 5/8 inches tall, oval, clear, bimal,and embossed Drs. Matchette / Epilepsy-Cure-Collage / Bourbon,Ind. / A Sample Months (no apostrophe) Treatment Free. Thisbottle may be one of a kind John says.

Free Sample, Cramer'sKidney Cure, Albany, N.Y (all Ns reversed)

Sample,Thatcher's Liver and Blood Syrup

I find eight bottles embossed“sample” scattered through my collection. They are:Free Sample / Cramer's / Kidney Cure / Albany, N.Y. (all the Nsare reversed), bimal, aqua, round, 4 1/4 inches tall; Dr.Thatcher's / Liver & Blood Syrup // Sample // Chattanooga,Tenn., bimal, amber, rectangular, 3 1/2 inches tall; Free Sample/ Warner's Safe Cure Co. / Rochester, N.Y., bimal, amber, round,4 1/2 inches tall; Free Sample // Atwood's // Jaundice Bitters//, ABM, aqua, 12 sided, 4 inches tall; Sample Bottle / Dr.Kilmer's / Swamp-Root Kidney Cure / Binghamton, N.Y., bimal,aqua, round, 4 1/2 and 3 1/8 inches tall (Swamp-Root / KidneyCure on smaller bottle); Sample Bottle / Dr. Kilmer's /Swamp-Root Kidney Remedy / Binghamton, N.Y.., bimal, aqua, round,4 1/2 inches tall; and Sample Bottle / Dr. Kilmer's / Swamp-Root/ Kidney Cure / London, E.G., bimal, aqua, round, 3 1/8 inchestall.


Free Sample, Warner's Safe CureCo., Rochester, N.Y.

There are a number of other embossed samplemedicines. Renne's / Pain Killing // Magic Oil // Sample Size-TryIt, bimal, aqua, rectangular and 2 3/8 inches tall is a neat one.Then Sample / Lash's Bitters, ABM, amber, square, 4 1/4 inchestall is interesting because it ties in two other Lash's Bittersbottles as probable samples, though not specifically embossed assuch: Lash's Bitters // // Natural / Tonic Laxative, bimal,amber, square, 4 3/4 inches tall and Lash's Liver Bitters // //Nature's / Tonic Laxative, bimal, amber, square, and 4 7/8 inchestall. This would indicate that the smaller bottles put out by Dr.A.S. Hopkins Union Stomach Bitter, Old Hickory Celebrated StomachBitters, Dr. Harter's Wild Cherry Bitters, and others wereprobably samples. Once, under the loading dock of an old warehouse in Galveston, Texas, I recovered broken necks and otherpieces of 46 large and 4 small Dr. Harter's Wild Cherry Bitters,Dayton, Ohio. I reasoned that some cases had fallen from theloading dock and were broken, then pushed under the dock. Perhapsthey came 23 large and 2 small bottles per case.

FreeSample, Atwood's Jaundice Bitters, ABM


This would make one wonder if bottles such asthe small Sand's and Bristol's Sarsaparillas were for samples. Iown two that I've been able to find very little about, bothbimal: Davis / Home Relief / For Pain, lime green, rectangular, 11/2 inches tall and Chesbro's Liquid / Corn Plaster / ChesbroBros. / Willimantic, Ct., cobalt, round and two inches tall. Theymust have been samples because they're so small.

The Free Sample Creamer's Kidney Cure, Albany,N.Y., also comes in a clear 4 1/4 inch tall bottle. The Ns arereversed on it also. In fact, I do not know of a specimen wherethe Ns are not backwards; neither does Bill Agee of Texas, JohnWolf, or Gene Bradberry of Tenn. There are bimal,aqua, rectangular bottles embossed Cramer's / Kidney & LiverCure, 8 7/8 and 7 inches tall, and Cramer's / Cough Cure, 6 1/4inches tall. Albany is not embossed, but John Wolf has both withlabels and they are from the Albany, N.Y. Company. Twice I'vewritten the public library of Albany for additionalinformation, but have received nothing.

Rare Dr. Kilmer'sOcean-Weed Heart Remedy, Binghamton, N.Y.

SampleBottles, Dr. Kilmer's Swamp-Root Kidney Cure, Binghamton, N.Y.

Dr. Thatcher's Liver and Blood Syrup fromChattanooga, Tenn., dates from the 1890s. In addition to thesample size, there are 7 1/2 and 8 1/4 inch tall bimal, amberrectangular bottles. The large size seems to be scarce. OtherThatcher products included a Cholera Mixture, Diarrhea Remedy,Worm Syrup, Vegetable Syrup, and Liver Pills.

Mahlon Thomas of Maine owns a rare Free SampleWarner's Safe Remedy bottle. He showed it to me when I visitedthere several years ago. H.H Warner must have been the leadingpatent medicine advertiser. I wrote about the rare large prizemap in Medicine Chest, August, 1988. Last year, I purchased an 11by 6 inch Warner's Safe Dictionary, 32 pages, copyrighted in1889, which also seems to be rare.


Though Moses Atwood's Bitters was on the marketfrom about 1835 through 1948, their only two free sample bottles,4 and 3 3/8 inches tall, are ABM, and are considered to be scarceby Carlyn Ring.

Sample Bottle Dr. Kilmer'sSwamp-Root Kidney Remedy, Binghamton, N.Y

I've pictured Richard Selleh's, also ofRichmond, Texas, rare sample bottle embossed Dr. Kilmer'sOcean-Weed Heart Remedy, Binghamton, N.Y. There are several otherrare Kilmer bottles, and Richard has most of them; see MedicineChest, July, 1986. I finally was able to purchase an“embossed lungs” bottle, but had to go on the disabledlist until my arm and leg regenerated.


SampleBottle Dr. Kilmer's Swamp-Root Kidney Cure, London, England



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