ANOTHER "PATENT MEDICINE ARTICLE" FROM THE PAGES OF
ANTIQUE BOTTLE AND GLASS COLLECTOR MAGAZINE
THE MAGAZINE OF THE ANTIQUE BOTTLE COLLECTING HOBBY
antiquebottles THEMEDICINE CHEST --- BY DR. RICHARD CANNON
Thanks Andy and Bill!
Perfect Health (for akidney and liver medicine) was patented January 31, 1888, by theSparks Medicine Co. of Camden, N.J. It had been produced since1885.
Theresa M. Gorman, Reference Librarian of the Camden FreePublic Library wrote me the following: "As per your request,I searched through our city directories for the Sparks Kidney andLiver Cure Company. Unfortunately, there was very littleinformation."
"I began the search with the 1870 directory. There was nolisting until 1886 which listed a Sparks Medicine Co., 212Federal St. William H. Sparks was president and James F. Daviswas secretary and treasurer. William Sparks lived at 549Washington St. and James Davis lived at 513 Cherry St."
|Sparks Kidney & Liver |
Cure Perfect Health.
|Sparks Perfect Health For |
Kidney & Liver Diseases.
"In 1888, theCompany moved to 120-124 Cooper Street and Charles Coulter wasthe new secretary/treasurer. In 1890, they moved to 105 MarketStreet. This was the last listing for the Sparks Medicine Co. Innone of the directories was there any advertising nor listing inthe business directories."
"William Sparks was listed in the next five directoriesas employed at the Collings Carriage Co. Actually, I should notethat a William Sparks was listed. No address was given so I do noknow if this is the same as the one above."
We know that Sparks Perfect Health was advertised in 1891 inW.H. Schieffelin & Co.'s publication, and in 1910 in the AmericanDruggist and Pharmaceutical Record. Perhaps some othercompany had taken over the brand by 1910.
Mr. Sparks may not have stayed in business very long, but hehas given us two great old medicine bottles, a smaller cure inboth amber and aqua, and a shot glass. All of these are rareexcept for the smaller cure bottles, and they are not common inmy experience:
Sparks / Kidney & Liver / Cure / Trade Mark / bust of awhiskered man / Perfect Health / Camden, N.J., 9 1/2 inches tall,amber, oval, a Warner's type bottle, abbreviated below L.K. &L. Cure.
Trade Mark / Sparks / Perfect Health / bust of whiskered man /For / Kidney & Liver / Diseases / Camden, N.J., 9 1/2 inchestall, amber, rectangular with widely beveled edges, abbreviatedbelow F.K. & L. Dis.
Sparks / Kidney & Liver Cure / Camden, N.J., 4 1/2 inchestall, amber and aqua, oval, almost small enough to be a samplebottle.
Sparks Perfect Health / For / Kidney / And Liver / Diseases //-Table / -Dessert / -Tea, 2 inches tall, amber shot glass.
|Sparks Kidney & Liver Cure.||Sparks Perfect Health Shot Glass.|
Which of these large Sparks bottles came first? Bill Agee in CollectingThe Cures, 1969, states that F.K. & L. Dis. is olderthan medicine was patented Perfect Health and not Kidney andLiver Cure. Maybe Sparks decided to make his product look morelike. Warner's Safe Kidney and Liver Cure to boost lagging sales.However F.K. & L. Cure with the Pure Food and Drugs Actlooming up ahead. Somehow, F.K. & L. Ids. reminds me ofWarner's Log Cabin bottles a little, and we know they followedWarner's oval bottles by seven years. This question may bedifficult to answer.
The L.K. & L. Cure bottle belongs to me. Andy Lange ofMassachusetts owns the F.K. & L. Ids. bottle and the smallamber Sparks K. & L. Cure bottle. Bill Age of Texas acquiredthe shot glass several years ago. Tom Fellowman of Illinoisrecently had the F.K. & L. Dis. bottle for sale, and Andy"beat me to the draw". I wrote Andy, hoping to get aphoto or sketch of the bottle for this article, and much to mysurprise and pleasure, he volunteered to ship both of the Sparksbottles here to Texas for me to photograph. Bill Agee did thesame with his shot glass a few years ago.
Isn't our hobby blessed with great people?
1. Mc Guire, E., Bottle Products and the U.S. PatentOffice, 1991.
2. Fike, R., The Bottle Book, 1987.
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