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


Many 19th century patent medicine proprietorswith several products chose to have their bottles all look aboutthe same. Not so with H.H. Warner, who had the attractive amberSafe, Log Cabin, and Tippecanoe types. Oliver Crook, DonaldKennedy, and Joseph H. Schenck also “spiced” theirbottles with a little variety in shape to liven up their commonaqua color.

Dr. Crook's Trade-Mark and label. Dr. Donald Kennedy

Dr. Crook's / Compound // // Syrup Of / PokeRoot, 7 1/2 inches tall and Dr. Crook's // // Wine of Tar, 8 7/8inches tall, are both square, but the neck band, depressedpanels, and smaller size make the Poke Root look much different from the Wine or Tar. Both have smooth bases, but thereis a rare pontiled aqua rectangular bottle, 9 inches tall,embossed O. Crook, M.D. // Vegetable / Extract // Dayton, Ohio,which may have been the forerunner of the Syrup of Poke Root.Crook's Vegetable S-PH-L-S Remedy was advertised in the BuffaloDaily Courier on July 22, 1865, and may have been put out in theVegetable Extract bottle.

Dr. Crook's Syrup ofPuke Root and Wine Tar.

I pictured the wooden shipping box stamped OneDoz. / Dr. Crook's / Compound / Syrup of / Poke Root / Depot /Dayton, O., and gave some information about the root and fruit ofpoke weed in Medicine Chest, June 1995.

Schenck'sPulmonic Syrup and Seaweed Tonic.

Oliver Crook, 1818-1873, was useless on hisfather's farm, but in his teens, he became apprenticed to aphysician, and vicariously read almost everything in the doctor'slibrary. Crook practiced medicine in Dayton, Ohio, from 1856through 1867. Oliver Crook and Company was founded in 1867 asproprietors of Wine Of Tar and Dayton patent safety bridle bit(for horses?) at 239 1/2 Third Street. The Syrup Of Poke Root wasadvertised as early as 1871, and by then they were at 168-174Water Street. In 1873, they were at 302-318 W. Water St., andAndrew and William E. Gump, William H. Rouzer and Daniel H.Eichelberger were listed as members of the firm. After Dr.Crook's death, Andrew Gump became president and Wm. E. Gumpbecame secretary and treasurer. In 1875, the business was sold toS.N., Smith and Co., Smith with John D. Park. Park was in thedrug business in Cincinnati, and was closely associated withDemas Barns of New York City.

I have a labeled Dr. Crook's Compound Syrup ofPoke Root, which reads “For the Cure of Cancer, Scrofula inany form, Tumors, Diseases of the Eyes, Liver, Skin or Blood,Rheumatic pains in Bones, Syphilis, Broken Down Constitution,Mercurial Diseases, Scald-Head Tetter, Pimples, Body Blotches,Ulcers, Gum Sores or any Diseases arising from an impurity of theBlood”. Oliver Crook & Co., Dayton, Ohio is printed atthe bottom of the label.

Crook's Wine of Tar was for Consumption,Inflammation of the Lungs, Coughs, Colds, Core Throat and Breast,Bronchitis, Asthma, Croup, Diphtheria, Whooping Cough, Dyspepsia,Liver Complaint, Weak Stomach, Gravel, Diseases of the Kidneysand Bladder, Nervous Debility, Female Irregularities, etc., etc.

Dr. Kennedy's // Rheumatic / Dissolvent //Roxbury, Mass., 8 7/8 inches tall and Dr. Kennedy's // PrairieWeed // Roxbury, Mass., 8 1/4 inches tall, are both rectangular,but look very different due to rounding of the shoulders of theformer, and squaring of the latter. Also, the lips are different.Other Kennedy products came in the more usual round shouldertypes, except the Hair Grower, which is similar to the PrairieWeed. At least four Kennedy medicines had pontils: MedicalDiscovery, Rheumatic Liniment, Scrofula Ointment, and Salt RheumOintment. I own a 2 1/8 inch tall round jar variant embossedKennedy's / Salt Rheum Ointment; there is also a rarer 3 1/2 inchcylindrical example. Salt Rheum was a term for eczema and otherchronic skin diseases.

Donald Kennedy began about 1848, in Roxbury, asuburb south of Boston, with a practice, and soon, a medicinemanufacturing business at 284 Warren. The Medical Discovery andDandruff Cleanser made hair grow; he changed the name toKennedy's Hair Grower. I am not aware of pontiled embossedexamples of Dandruff Cleanser or Hair Grower.

Pontiled Kennedy's SaltRheum Ointment.

In 1877, George G. Kennedy, apparently Donald'sson, is first mentioned in city directories.

Prairie Weed was introduced in1878m and soldwell. It was for bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, pleurisy,whooping cough, erysipelas, dropsy, etc., but especially forconsumption (pulmonary tuberculosis). It came from a weed“accidentally discovered and providentially used”.“Its ingredients are all grown on the prairies of theWestern States”. The Kennedy's pointed out that consumptionwas ten times more prevalent in Main than New Mexico. It was alsostated that good food, good air, good drainage, warm clothes, anda happy home, were needed. That holds for all diseases, I wouldsay.

Dr.Kennedy's Rheumatic Dissolvent and Prarie Weed.

The business was subsequently removed to 120Warren, and continued to be listed for many years. There is noevidence that these Kennedys were kin of John F. Kennedy.

Schenck's // Seaweed // Tonic, square, 9 1/2inches tall and Schenck's // // Pulmonic // // Syrup // // Phila.On 4 of 8 sides, 7 1/8 inches tall, don't look like “kinfolks” at all. Both come with pontils, and one variant ofthe Seaweed Tonic has an oval depression for a pill box on therear panel.

Dr. Joseph H. Schenck suffered from a pulmonicdisease as a young man. Somehow, while a tailor in Trenton, N.J.,he was helped by a concoction of Chamomile, worm-wood, catnip,essence of tansy, hyssop, hops, hoarhound, comfrey, senega, gumArabic, licorice, elecampane, Indian turnip, lemon juice, brandy,and water. In 1836, he named it Pulmonic Syrup, and began toproduce it. Among the conditions that it was recommended for was“clergyman's sore throat”, a terror to ministers,attorneys, and other people who talked too much. He stirred up abarrel of Seaweed Tonic with 19.5% alcohol, and soon he was onhis way to a “fortune”. Schenck's “palace ofmarble” was constructed at No. 15 North Sixth Street inPhiladelphia. Later, he turned the business over to Joseph Jr.,so he could develop a 300-acre show place and cruise about in hissteam yacht. “Schenck's Mandrake Pills (another earlyproduct) are required in nearly every case of Consumption; forthe appetite should be restored as soon as possible, in order toget the Pulmonic Syrup to act as an expectorant, to relieve thelungs of mucous and matter. The Seaweed Tonic will restore theappetite as soon as the Mandrake Pills cleanse the stomach, evenwhen the bowels are regular, and often in diarrhea.”.

J.H. Schenck & Son were still advertisingthe Syrup in 1942, and it was continued through 1948, by PloughSales Corp., Memphis, Tenn.

When Drs. Crook, Kennedy, and Schenck met SaintPeter at the gates of Heaven, he welcomed them to come onthrough. A physician who had been in managed care was recentlytold by Saint Peter that he could pass on through, but that hecould stay only three days....


  1. Baldwin, J.K.: Patent and Proprietary Medicine Bottles, 1973.
  2. Carson, G.: One For A Man, Two For A Horse, 1961.
  3. Fike, R.: The Bottle Book, 1987.
  4. Holcombe, H.W.: Patent Medicine Tax Stamps, 1979.
  5. Holst, J.: Pontiled Medicine Price Guide, 1995.
  6. Wilson, B. and B.: 19th Century Medicine In Glass, 1971.

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