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


Witch Hazel has been used as an astringent, whichcondenses and coagulates the tissues to arrest discharges,sedative, and tonic. It is prepared from the leaves and bark ofthe Hamamelis Virginica tree, also known as the pistachio,snapping hazel, spotted alder, striped alder, wood tobacco, andwinter bloom. Witch Hazel has been rubbed on piles, skindisorders, and joints, and has been consumed for sore throat,bronchial discharges, diarrhea, and uterine hemorrhages. It hasalso been used to "soothe" the nerves and"tone" the system.

Haswell’s Witch

Hazel Cream.

Frederick Humphreys, M.D.

Humphrey’s Marvel

Witch Hazel.

I find two embossed "witch hazels" onmy shelves: Haswell’s / Witch Hazel Cream, clear,rectangular with beveled corners, 5 1/2 inches tall, also knownin aqua; and Humphreys’ / Marvel / Witch Hazel in a circle,clear, oval, 7 3/8 inches tall.
Wm. S. Haswell first patented Haswell’s Blood and LiverPills on October 12, 1880, in Georgetown, Colorado. On October13, 1885, he patented London Balm in Denver, Colorado.Coca-Phosphates was patented May 18, 1886, and Haswell’sWitch Hazel Cream, February 22, 1887, in Denver. I’ve notfound further information about Haswell or his remedies in myreference materials. Ironically, my Haswell’s was purchasedseveral years ago from an antique dealer in Georgetown, Colorado.

Human Homeopathics; embossed amber square

bottles changed to clear round vials about 1900.

Veterinary Homeopathic bottles.

Frederick Humphrey’s, M.D., was born March11, 1816, in Marcellus, New York, and established DoctorHumphreys’ Specific Homeopathic Medicine Company in Auburn,NY, about 1844. Humphreys also carried on a private practice andserved as Professor of Homeopathic Materia Medical at the StateMedical College. The business became incorporated as HumphreysHomeopathic Medicine Co. in 1854 in New York City. The addresseswere 562 Broadway in 1857, 109 Fulton in 1877, and later, thecorner of William and Ann Streets. By 1890, the address was 61-65John St.
Homeopathy is the medical system which seeks to cure disease bygiving the patient minute doses of drugs which produce symptomssimilar to those of the disease on the theory that the symptomsreveal nature’s effort to combat the disease. It originatedin 1796, by a German physician Samuel Hahnemann. Humphreys’was a business of homeopathic family remedies augmented by a lineof homeopathic veterinary medicines. The business flourished.Products for human consumption were numbered: #2-Worms;#3-Teething, Colic, and Crying; #20-Whooping Cough; #30-BedWetting; #34-Diphtheria; etc. Veterinary items were lettered:D-Worms; F-Colic; etc. Witch Hazel products were added along theway: Marvel Of Healing; Marvel Witch Hazel; and Witch Hazel Oil.Marvel Of Healing advertising indicates that it was fluid witchhazel prepared by Dr. Humphreys from a recipe used by him for 20years. It was probably for internal use. Witch Hazel Oil was forexternal conditions such as injuries to the skin and joints,hemorrhoids, etc.

Marvel of Healing bottle; came

in 6oz., pints, and quarts

Marvel Witch Hazel ad.

Witch Hazel Oil trade card.

In 1940 the name became Humphreys’Medicine Co., and in the 1960s it was relocated in Rutherford,NJ. The name changed to Humphreys’ Pharmacal Inc. in 1968,and was still doing business in 1983.
Ever heard of "witching for water"? I did growing up inthe Texas hill country. The "witcher" took a freshlycut Y shaped branch and headed out. The place where the part hewasn’t holding dipped down was the spot to dig for a well.Maybe the Hamamelis Virginica was used for this "magic"too.....

1. Agee, B.: Humphreys’ Homeopathic Specifics,
Old Bottle Magazine, July 1974
2. Bingham, A.W. The Snake Oil Syndrome, 1994
3. Druggist’s Hand-Book of Medicinal Roots, Barks,
Herbs, Flowers, & C.G.S. Cheney, Co. 1900
4. Fike, R: The Bottle Book, 1987
5. Humphrey, W.: Humphrey’s Homeopathic Specifics,
Old Bottle Magazine, December 1972
6. McGuire, E: Bottled Products and the U.S. Patent
Office, 1991
7. Pierce, R.V.: The People’s Common Sense Medical
Advisor, 1895

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