Saturday, January 30, 2016

AYER'S Patent Medicine With Lead!

You may have realized by now that one of my favorite subjects is glass. This is no exception.

We'll start with a description of the document since it is too large (8" X 14") to fit on my flatbed scanner. I have a number of pieces of Montana Drug Company paper that I have used before, and I've put glass bottles on all of them. The first piece I did can be viewed HERE, and the second one is HERE. Both of them were patent medicines. This one is no different.

There are four of Ayer's products listed on this billhead, and they are Sarsaparilla, Hair Vigor, Pills, and Cherry Pectoral. I used my trusty research tool (Google) to look at the glass containers for all four of these products, and the Hair Vigor was by far the most eye-appealing. From there I had to either get a photograph taken or obtain permission to use an already existing photograph as a model. To that end, I contacted Mr. Don Fadely, who has put together a web site called Hair Raising Stories, which describes many patent medicines and their containers. It was constructed to primarily aid the collectors of the glass containers and the labeling. The bottles are collectible.

The following was taken directly from the product description on Mr. Fadely's web site: 
(1) Dissolve 9 pounds of lead acetate in water; (2) add 9 pounds of cream of tartar, dissolved in water (as little water as will take it up); (3) wash this precipitate in water twice; (4) dissolve the precipitate in 30 pounds of solution of caustic soda (specific gravity 1.07); (5) add sufficient water to bring quantity to 13 pounds; (6) add 6 1/2 gallons of glycerine.
 The description was a rewording from the patent. An exact date for the sale of Hair Vigor in this bottle is a bit vague, and although the original bottling is still to be found, I believe this bottle was headed to a barber shop, as many barber bottles are very beautiful with good reason. 

The above is an example of an Ayer's Hair Vigor advertisement from 1900. Almost psychedelic. Don't look at it for too long...


  1. Thank you! Haven't seen any paper dolls lately, unless you count the billheads from Zernitz in Chicago with dolls for a line item...

    1. I'll admit I haven't either. I've been staying away from them for my financial health. Hope you're doing well.