antiquebottles THEMEDICINE CHEST --- BY DR. RICHARD CANNON old bottles


You may not have been collecting old medicines inDecember, 1974, when “L.B. Outlar Bottles” waspublished in Bottle News, or even in May, 1986, when “I Dig Digging” appeared in Medicine Chest. Iwant to tell something more about my favorite old drug store,L.B. Outlar Drug Co. of Wharton, Texas, but first, Leonard B.Outlar began in 1899, in the building, which still stands todayas the Wharton Drug Co. His son and grandson were physicians, andI practiced with them both for 20 years. Outlar Drug embossedbottles are scarce, but I was able to dig 2 of the 4 knowncomplete specimens while living in Wharton (1962-1982).

Dr. Pierce's Extract ofSmart Weed, R.V. Pierce, M.D., Buffalo, N.Y.

Last year, my friend Bubba Sommer, Whartoncollector and pharmacist, called, “You've got to come downand see what's under the paint on the side of Wharton Drug”.The next day, there it was, “Dr. Pierce's FavoritePrescription”. “—Co.” and “The RexallStore” were above.

I have a 1903 photo of the store, and the sideappears with the original red brick surface and five signsattached near the front corner: a Coca-Cola, a Curdui, aSherwin-Williams; the other two are not identifiable. When theDr. Pierce ad was applied, I do no know. The second floor was fordoctors' offices, and up front was Dr. Green Davidson who startedhis practice in Wharton in 1895, and was the first doctor betweenHouston and Victoria to purchase and use an x-ray machine afterthey became available in 1896. We found some of Dr. Davidson'sx-rays. They were of good quality but on plate glass rather thencelluloid.

Ray Vaughn Pierce graduated from medical schoolin 1862, and in his late twenties began to practice in Buffalo,N.Y. By the early 1870s, he had opened his “World'sDispensary”, and soon his medicines were distributedthroughout the U.S. and into foreign countries. Thousands came to his invalid homefor treatment. He practiced surgery as well, and had a staff ofover 15 doctors. Several books were authored and they werereprinted and revised many times. I have the 63rdedition of The People's Common Sense Medical Advisor, put outin 1895.

L.B.Outlar & Co., Drug Store, Wharton, Texas, 1903.

I recently acquired an aqua, bimal, rectangularbottle, 2 1/4 inches tall embossed Dr. Sages // Catarrh / Remedy// Buffalo // Dr. Pierce / Propr. My Dr. Pierce's FavoritePrescription bottles have both the double collar and the longtapered collar, 8 1/2 and 8 1/4 inches tall, my Dr. Pierce'sGolden Medical Discovery bottle has the long tapered collar, andis 8 inches tall, and my Extract of Smart Weed is 5 inches tall.All are aqua and rectangular. The two Dr. Pierce's Anuric TabletsFor The Kidneys and Backache are 3 3/4 and 3 inches tall andround, the larger in aqua and the smaller, clear. These bottlescome in yellow amber. There is also a stock bottle, aqua, oval, 7inches tall embossed inside a circle Prescribed / by / R.V.Pierce, M.D. / Buffalo / N.Y. Pierce put out an Alterative, CoughSyrup, Lotion Tablets, Pleasant Pellets, Purgative Pectoral, andSalve, but I am not aware that any of them came in embossedbottles.

In 1903, a Ladies' Home Journal articleclaimed that both Dr. Pierce's Favorite Prescription and GoldenMedical Discovery contained opium. Pierce sued, and no bottles ofthe medicine containing opium could be found. Dr. Pierce madethis statement: “solemnly swear that I have exact knowledgeof the ingredients of my Favorite Prescription and that it doesnot and never did contain alcohol, opium, digitalis, or any otherpoisonous or injurious article, as a compounded at our chemicallaboratory or sold through druggists”. However, TheMassachusetts State Board of Health did find opium in the 1880s.

Well, nobody's perfect....

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