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


Many nineteenth century patent or proprietary medicineproducers had a female remedy, usually of herbs, which promisedbenefits that did not occur. The American Medical Associationtried to help the public to “wise up” in the FemaleWeakness Cures chapter of Nostrums and Quackery, first published in1912. I would like to present some information about femaleregulators of the past from bottles in my “medicinechest”.

Lydia Pinkham and Dr.Pinkham Emmenagogue.

My earliest example is embossed Dr. Pinkham's /Emmenagogue on one panel of a blowpipe pontiled, deep aqua,square bottle 5 3/4 inches tall. An emmenagogue is a remedy,which stimulates or regulates menstrual flow. I don't know whereDr. Pinkham was located, and have come across nothing to indicatethat he and Lydia were related.

A very popular medicine for ladies' complaintscame in the bottle embossed Lydia E. Pinkham's / VegetableCompound, aqua, oval and 8 1/4 inches tall. “It will cureentirely the worst form of Female Complaints, all Ovariantroubles, Inflammation, Ulceration, Falling and Displacements ofthe Womb and the consequent Spinal Weakness and is particularlyadapted to the Change of Life. It will dissolve and expel Tumorsfrom the uterus in an early stage of development. The tendency ofcancerous tumors there is checked very speedily by its use –That feeling of bearing down, causing pain is always permanentlycured by its use. It will at all times and under allcircumstances act in harmony with the laws that govern the femalesystem.”

Lydia Estes Pinkham began bottling her compoundin 1873, in Lynn, Mass. After her death in 1883, the companybecame known as Lydia E. Pinkham's Sons & Co.

G.F.P.For Women.

A recent addition to my “medicinechest” is an amber, rectangular bottle, 8 1/4 inches tall,embossed G.F.P. / For / Women // Gerstle Medicine Co. //Chattanooga, Tenn. G.F.P. stands for Gerstle's Female Panacea.Leopold Gerstle started small in Union Tenn., in 1871. By 1889the town was called Bluff City when Gerstle and the town councilhad a “falling out” over increases in tax and waterrates, and Gerstle moved his growing business to Chattanooga. An1895 ad lists L. Gerstle & Co., Manufacturing Druggists,Office and Laboratory on Electric Street Halloway, Highland Park.St. Joseph's Sarsaparilla and St. Joseph's Liver Regulator wereadvertised as well as G.E.P. The Sarsaparilla came in an 8 3/4inch tall amber rectangular bottle embossed S.J.S. / For The /Blood // Gerstle Medicine Co. // Chattanooga, Tenn. St. Joseph'sFamily Medicines, L. Gerstle & Co. Continued to be listed inthe Chattanooga City Directories through 1920, and the companycontinues to the present as the St. Joseph's Medicine Co.

In the early 1870s, a young man named ErnestLinwood Andrews was employed by Leopold Gerstle's company, andremained, learning the patent medicine business, until 1888. Heformed the Andrews Manufacturing Co., located at 710 Main St.,Bristol, Tenn., in 1892. I own an amber, rectangular bottle, 9inches tall, and embossed St. Andrew's / Wine Of The Life Root,which was Andrew's female regulator. A partial label gives“Female Regulator Or Wine Of Life Root – Prepared OnlyBy Andrews Mfg. Co., Bristol, Tenn.” and is attached to therare embossed St. Andrew's / Sarsaparilla. Charlie Barnette ofBristol, owns an embossed Wine Of Life Root bottle with a St.Andrew's Compound Extract Of Sarsaparilla label. The companycontinued through 1932.

Dr. Kilmer's

Female Remedy bottles.

St. Andrews Wine of

Life Root label and Bottle.

McElree's Wine of Cadui &

Bradfield's Female Regulator bottles.

Another Tennessee female regulator came in mybottle embossed McElree's Wine Of Cardui // // ChattanoogaMedicine Co., aqua, rectangular, and 8 1/2 inches tall. Rev. R.I.McElree learned of an herbal concoction used by Indian women torelieve menstrual pain, and introduced his Cadui in 1879. He soldit to the Chattanooga Medicine Co. in 1882. It was continued bythe Chattem Labs until 1982; D.L. Ward of Chattanooga purchasedthe trademark in 1984, reformulated the product using drugsrather than herbs, and had it back on the market in 1985.

Dr. S. Andral Kilmer and Co. had a line offamily remedies from Binghamton, NY beginning in the 1870s, whichincluded the Complete Female Remedy. The 9-inch tall aqua,rectangular bottle so embossed is rare. It was soon replaced withlong bar to block out Complete; why, I don't know. Then came the8 3/8 inch bottle embossed all on the front panel Dr. Kilmer's /Female / Remedy / Binghamton, NY. By 1903, the Female Remedy andseveral other products had been discontinued.

The bottle embossed Bradfield's // Female /Regulator // Atlanta, Ga. // Womans / Best Friend, aqua,rectangular, and 8 1/4 inches tall, was eventually put out by theS.S.S Co. of Atlanta. The label on a later bottle reads: a TonicFor Women and a Relief of Menstrual Functions when not caused bymalformation or that do not require surgical treatment –Only to be used externally. I wonder where you were supposed torub the stuff?

Whether I'm from another planet or not, I knowone thing. There's no such thing as a female regulator....


  1. Barnette, C: Bottles And Extras, December 1993 and January 1994
  2. Barnette, C: Spirits And Medicinal Bottles Of Bristol, TN – VA, 1995
  3. Cannon, R.: Antique Bottle And Glass Collector, July, 1986
  4. Fike, R: The Bottle Book, 1987
  5. Holst, J: Pontiled Medicine Price Guide, 1995
  6. Shimko, P: Sarsaparilla Encyclopedia, 1969
  7. Umberger, A and J: Corraling The Corkers, 1969

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