Friday, July 4, 2014

“Steamboat’s A-Comin’ “ -- Out of the Past and Under Glass

The era of the steamboat is largely a closed chapter in American transportation history,  brought to mind only by the few sternwheelers that ply our larger rivers, most of them carrying sightseers.  Fortunately many of those earlier steamers were captured in glass paperweights that continue to bring their memories to mind, for most have interesting stories to tell. Displayed here are a dozen of these vintage artifacts to carry us back to a time when travel in America was more leisurely.

Launched in 1899, the Tashmoo was the flagship of the White Star Line.  This side-wheeler steamboat was built by the Detroit Shipbuilding Company to ply the Great Lake.  Its regular route was from Detroit to Port Huron, Michigan.  Believed by some to be the fastest ship on the lakes -- it could make 20 knots (23 mph), it was a competitor in a famous race from Cleveland, Ohio, to Erie, Pennsylvania.   The president of the White Star Line, offered $1,000 to any ship that could beat the Tashmoo in a race. The president of the Cleveland Buffalo Transit Company accepted the challenge on behalf of his ship, the City of Erie. The course was 82 nautical miles (94 miles) long.  After encountering several mishaps along the way the Tashmoo lost the race by 45 second but afterward was accounted the faster ship. 

Mishaps seemed to plague the Tashmoo, named after a whale hunting Indian in Herman Melville’s famous novel, Moby Dick.  On December 8, 1927, the ship snapped its moorings during a storm and headed up the Detroit River, threatening a major bridge.  Followed by two tugboats, the Tashmoo was stopped only yards from smashing into the span.  Repaired and back in service, the ship subsequently struck a submerged rock as it was leaving Sugar Island,  Maine.  It was able to dock in Amherstberg, Ontario, and the passengers evacuated before it sank in 18 feet of water.  Eventually scrapped, the Tashmoo was entered into the National Maritime Hall of Fame in 1985.

The steamer, R. B. Hayes, shown above, also met disaster on the sea.  It was built to ply the Great Lakes as a large excursion boat and for a time was a principal source of transportation to and from the Lake Erie recreational center at Cedar Point, Ohio.  The Hayes was on the north side of Lake Ontario, however, when it collided with the J. N. Carter, a schooner laden with grain.  The Carter was struck on her starboard side, carrying away its bowsprit and jiboom and smashing the bow. Named after U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes, the steamer was held responsible for the accident when its crew failed to heed warnings from a tug towing the schooner.  

The City of Buffalo was launched in 1895 and at that time was the largest passenger ship on the Great Lakes at 308 feet long,  capable of carrying 3,000 passengers and 800 tons of cargo.   The steamer boasted a grand salon, public and private dining rooms, and 160 staterooms.  Its route generally was between Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago and Duluth.  The trip between Buffalo and Cleveland took about nine hours and cost $2.50. The onset of the Great Depression severely curtailed passenger traffic on the Lakes and, as a result, the City of Buffalo was often idle.  The ship met its demise in March 1838 when it burned at its winter moorings in Cleveland as it was being prepared for the summer season.

The steam paddle ship, Empire State, shown right, was built a New York City shipyard in 1863.  Formerly known as the Sylvan Stream and renamed in 1893, the ship for many years provided passenger service on Lake Ontario.  Home ported in Cape Vincent, New York,  it burned at the dock in Kingston, Ontario, and was a total loss.  Although her owners received a settlement equivalent to $500,000 today and initially hoped to rebuild it,  they quickly abandoned the effort, stripped the Empire State of its equipment and scrapped the hull.

Fire was a frequent problem for steamboats.  The steamer Manhattan, shown above, was a large and comfortable ship, plying the Atlantic to take customers directly from New York City to Portland, Maine for the Maine Streamship Company.   It had made the trip successfully for years when on March 7, 1916, upon arriving in Portland early in the morning and discharging its passengers, it caught fire from unknown causes and was destroyed at the dock.  The destruction was assessed as complete and the loss at $6.25 million calculated in today’s dollars.
 

Another oceangoing steam boat of note was the Yale.  Built in 1907 to operate between New York and Boston,  it served that route well for a few years before being drafted into World War One as an English Channel troopship.  Later the Yale was taken to the West Coast to serve a San Francisco-Los Angeles run.  In 1937 the steamer was retired and sold for use as a power and light plant in Kodiak Bay, Alaska.  With the advent of World War Two, the Yale was refitted and called back into military service.  Making almost 24 knots,  the ship had significant speed to be able to sail out of Alaska without a convoy cover,  joining the war effort, according to a press account, “alone and unafraid.”    

The Clyde Steamship Company, owned by William P. Clyde, featured three lines.  One operating from New York City carried passengers down the Atlantic Coast to Wilmington, North Carolina; Georgetown and Charleston, South Carolina; and Jacksonville with continuing service to the Turks & Cacos Islands, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  A Philadelphia-based service stopped at similar ports but added Norfolk, Virginia, and climbed the York River to Richmond, Virginia.;  the Potomac to Alexandria, and the Hudson to West Point.  The third line ran out of Jacksonville to various ports in Florida,  including intermediate points on the St. John’s River.

When the Fall River Line launched the S.S. Priscilla  in 1894, it was at the time the largest side-wheeler afloat, capable of accommodating 1,500 passengers.  Shown above, it was famous for the extremely ornate and luxurious interior of the ship.  During its lifetime, the Priscilla was traveled by several U.S. presidents including Grant, Harrison, Cleveland and both Roosevelts, as well as dignitaries such as the Vanderbilts, Astors, Belmonts and Rockefellers. One Boston editor declared, "If you went on a trip to New York and didn't travel the Fall River Line, you simply didn't go at all.”  The Priscilla served for 44-years, the longest in the history of the company.  Her last voyage left Fall River, Massachusetts, on July 12, 1937.  A strike the next day shut down the Fall River Line forever after a 90 year history.
 
Another steamer serving mid-Atlantic states was the City of Norfolk.  It followed a Chesapeake Bay route, linking the Virginia port city with Baltimore.  This ship was launched in 1911 and measured 297 feet.   It plied the bay as part of the Baltimore Steam Packet Line until its owners joined a large merger of steamship companies and the City of Norfolk became part of the Old Bay Line.  The City of Norfolk was one of the last two vessels operated by Old Bay before it went out of business in 1962.  For four years the ship was idled at Norfolk until 1966 when it was towed to Fieldsboro, New Jersey, on the Delaware River and scrapped.


The City of Annapolis also was a Chesapeake Bay steamer.  Part of the York River Line, it served customers along the west side of the Bay,  from Baltimore, with stops along the way, including up the Severn River to Annapolis, and then up the York River to Richmond, the city at the “fall line” beyond which the stream becomes impassible.  

While some steamer plied the oceans and others the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay others were built to navigate the rivers of America.  While the most famous plied the Mississippi, others served on smaller rivers.  The People’s Line Steamer -- that was its name, was built in 1907 by several East Coast contractors: the hull by the New York Shipbuilding Company at its Camden, New Jersey, yard; the steam engines at a Hoboken company, and the interior fittings and the superstructure by a firm on Greenpoint, Long Island.  When completed the People’s Line ship, shown below, steamed up and down the Hudson River carrying passengers in luxury between New York City and Albany.

These steamboat “back stories” are brought to mind in these paperweights showing the ships in their heyday, still preserved there though almost all of them long since have burned or sunk or been sold for scrap.  As a result their images under the glass will have to suffice to reminds us of the joys -- and some pitfalls -- of travel by steamboat.  












Friday, June 20, 2014

King Gambrinus in Two Dimensions

This is the second of two consecutive posts devoted to King Gambrinus, often called the patron of beer and brewing, a figure whose origins are lost in the mists of past centuries but whose visage frequently is seen in connection with the barley brew.   The prior post featured the many times the good monarch has been depicted in three dimensions -- statuary.  There was a remarkable sameness in most of the sculptures,  regardless of era or materials.

The same cannot be said of Gambrinus as he is depicted in two dimensions in a wide range of formats.  The first example here is a framed art piece of the king holding the traditional foaming goblet of beer.   Reputedly dating from the 1880s  in France, it bears a caption that says:  “Gambrinus I:  Grand Etude Aux de Crayons,”  translated “A Large Study with Pencils.”  That is something of a mystery since the picture seems to have been painted.  In any case, it depicts the king at his majestic best,  tastefully clad and noble of visage.   This Gambrinus would make drinking beer a thoroughly ennobling experience.

Contrast it with the next Gambrinus,  a seriously overweight monarch with a pendulous belly.  Even while tapping a keg to fill a stein proffered by one of his subjects the king seems deep in an alcoholic slumber.  The supporting characters, numbering about 15, are also interesting, particularly the serious looking gent sitting at the front reading a newspaper. He may be “Mr. Dry,” a top-hatted man with a sour look who came in many forms and was the image of the Prohibitionist.   This image is a well-wrought color lithograph on a bar tray.  It was issued for Arrow Beer by the Globe Brewery of Baltimore.   Although this company was able to hang on for a time during Prohibition, it did not survive the period.  The site of the brewery on South Hanover Street has long since been built over by the development of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

The model for the Arrow Beer Gambrinus may have been a 1800s depiction of the king as,  let’s admit it, a sloppy drunk.  Not only is he asleep and bears the well-recognized  symptom of a “beer gut,”  he has lost one shoe and is in danger of dropping his scepter. He definitely has no kingly qualities.   Contrast him with the Gambrinus on a 1895 German-made Mettlach beer stein.   Although this king is a man of considerable girth, he is a fearsome figure, a scowl on his face and a sword by his side.  The object of his wrath, however, is not immediately apparent.   He seems to be picking a blossom from a hops plant, hops being an essential ingredient of beer.  Is the blossom just too small?

Unlike the Arrow Beer example above, carrying and tip trays usually had more traditional depiction's of the king.  These usually were given by breweries to favored customers such as saloons or restaurants.  Gambrinus Beer of Portland, Oregon, provided a color lithograph on metal tray with the traditional monarch, looking fully majestic as he contemplates a quaff.  This brewery was founded in 1875 by Louis Fuerer.  Under Fuerer and subsequent management, the operation survived until Oregon went dry in 1916.  The plant and the brand were revived in 1933 under the auspices of the Rose City Brewing Company.  The Great Depression apparently doomed the effort and it shut down for good in 1940.

Casey & Kelly provided a tray that bears strong resemblance to the Portland product. In both the king is garbed in green and has a long reddish beard and hair.   This king, however, wears around his neck a “star of David,” a symbol long identified with the Jewish faith.  The answer may lie in the strong influence of Mennonite Christians in the spirits trade.  Barred   from many occupations in Europe, they frequently were the brewers, distillers and tavern keepers.   Mennonites believed themselves to have a special affinity with the ancient Israelites and adopted the symbol.  Here it is affixed to Gambrinus.  Established in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1892,  the brewery was one of 20 listed during that period for Scranton and obviously found it hard to break through the competition to find a customer base.  It closed only five years later in 1897.   This provides a relatively narrow window for dating the colorful tray.

Two Gambrinus beers were produced in the United States.  One from Portland and the other from Columbus, Ohio.   The Midwest version was brewed by August Wagner & Sons Brewing Company and advertised as “The Beer Your Daddy Drank.”  Its king stands on a keg much as did a statue at the brewery shown in my previous post.  A immigrant from Bavaria,  Wagner opened his brewery a the corner of West Sycamore and Front in Columbus in 1906.  It survived, with time out for Prohibition, into the 1970s.

Although the Mettlach stein shown here portrayed an angry and aggressive Gambrinus,  most German steins have used the more traditional approach.  Shown here are two examples, both from reasonably contemporary drinking vessels.  One features an underglaze painted version of the king with the motto “Proset,” i.e. “Drink Up,” at under his bust.   The other in bas relief shows the monarch sitting on a throne make from a beer keg.  He seems happy although it cannot be a comfortable perch.

Although the Pabst Brewery in Milwaukee featured the giant statue of Gambrinus, as shown in the prior post,  its cross-town rival,  Blatz Brewery,  featured a standing king on a brass token,  probably meant as a pocket “good luck” charm.  The reverse side contains the date 1863 and advertises “City Brewery & Malt House, Milwaukee.”  That was the name that Valentine Blatz gave his brewing operation after taking over a small brewery in 1851 and expanding into one of the nation’s largest,  occupying nearly an entire city block at the corner of Broadway and Division Streets in Milwaukee.

One brewery even gave his majesty a musical march.  Shown here is the front of a sheet of music entitled “Koenig (King) Gambrinus.  It shows the king amidst hops blossoms with scepter and a glass of beer in hand.  The piece was copyrighted in 1915 by the Sieben Brewery Company of Chicago,  which apparently commissioned its composition and to whom it is dedicated.   The composer was H. Sallmann, who does not seem to have written anything else of note (pun intended).  Michael Sieben, a immigrant from Mainz, Germany, founded his brewery on Pacific Avenue near Clark and Polk Streets in Chicago in 1865.  It survived and thrived until shut down by Prohibition in 1920.

Now that we have seen the many manifestations of King Gambrinus, who was he and where did he come from?   Although he often is called a “patron saint” of beer, brewing and brewers, he is definitely not a saint,  though a patron he may be.  He is a legendary European folk hero, celebrated as an symbol of beer drinking,  sometime jovial, sometime not;  sometimes a drunkard,  usually not.   Some think he is patterned after John the Fearless, others on John Primus, Duke of Brabant.  Still others put forward additional historical or legendary candidates.  The Wikipedia entry on Gambrinus runs to many paragraphs.  The curious are invited to go there and be confused.  Here it is enough to say that as an icon Gambrinus has shown amazing staying power through the centuries and is likely to remain with us in a wide range of formats for as long as there is beer to drink.



















Saturday, June 7, 2014

King Gambrinus in Three Dimensions

            
Living in Milwaukee as I did for a number of years, a tour of the Pabst Brewery, close to the heart of the city,  was a frequent pastime.  It was there that I first made my acquaintance with King Gambrinus,  known worldwide as the patron (but not patron saint) of beer and beer drinking.  This post and the next will be devoted to this historic, likely imaginary, figure.  This installment is devoted to the statues of this redoubtable monarch.  The next post will illustrate how he has been depicted over the centuries on other artifacts.

Gambrinus statues continue to intrigue me.  The original at the Pabst site was installed about 1857 when the brewery was known as the Best Brewery.   It was carved from wood by sculptor Gustav Haug and likely is the one shown above, high in the air, in a photo from the mid-1800s.  According to a company history,  by 1872 a new statue was needed and Carl Kuehns, a carver from a Milwaukee furniture company created a copy of Haug’s work.  This Gambrinus, at the time I was touring the brewery, was located near the entrance to the “tasting room,”  where a copy of this postcard view was available.

Over time that statue deteriorated and was sold in 1966.  Before it disappeared, however, a new cast aluminum version was commissioned that stood Pabst  until 1996 when, sadly, the brewery closed.  That Gambrinus traveled to several places, including installation at a cafeteria for brewery workers in Illinois.  When a restaurant and watering hole opened in Milwaukee in part of the old Pabst complex, the owner negotiated a loan to return the statue to its original site, where it stands today as shown here.  Although it echoes Kuehns' version in many ways, the latest king has a different style belt.

Some histories date the popularity of Gambrinus to the statue that stood over the entrance of the Brewers’ Hall at the Centennial Exposition in 1876.  German-American brewers were inspired to install their own figures of the king.  Note that all of the 3-D images shown here are characterized by the king standing on a keg and brandishing a stein or goblet.

LaCrosse, Wisconsin, boasted two such statues.   Shown here, one Gambrinus has a stunned expression as if he had just noticed that his beer goblet is empty.  Made of concrete, this statue was bought by the Heileman Brewery from a defunct competitor in 1939 and is now installed near a city park.  The other King Gambrinus is made of Cor-Ten steel and was installed in front of the Heileman corporate headquarters.  The unadorned metal gives the statue a severe look that seems out of keeping with the “gemutlichkeit” (cozy and festive) nature of beer drinking.

As shown here, the next Gambrinus originally stood on a pedestal high up on the wall of the August Wagner Brewery in Columbus, Ohio.   When the brewery went bankrupt, it appeared that the king was headed for the junkyard or an equally ignominious fate.  In 1975, the Columbus Dispatch newspaper rescued him and had him restored.  Today this Gambrinus can be viewed, as seen here, in a red cloak and black tunic,  aggressively offering up a beer toast.

As breweries have gone defunct, their Gambrinus images often have ended up in museums.   The Haberele family operated a brewery in Syracuse, New York, from the late 1880s until Prohibition and then resumed upon Repeal only to close for good in 1962.  At the time it owned a Gambrinus, seen here, that was 12 feet tall and weighed 1,500 pounds.  Luckily the Onondoga (County) Historical Museum was able to accommodate it.  The rescued king’s cup overflows as he greets visitors to the collection.

Another Gambrinus that might have ended on a scrap heap was ransomed by the Maryland Historical Society.   Made of zinc, it stood at the American Brewery, founded in 1887 by J.F. Weissner, a German immigrant.  That brewery survived until 1975 when it closed and its complex -- and the statue -- was abandoned. As shown here, its rescuers subsequently fully restored the image to its original glory. Baltimore’s Gambrinus now greets visitors to the Society’s museum on Monument Street.   Note that the keg on which the king leans is festooned with hops leaves and blossoms, a slightly different touch.

European breweries have long featured Gambrinus statues as their symbol.  They are most common in Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.  Other countries have used the icon as well.  For example, at a large beer hall in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, stands a huge Gambrinus made of a resin material.  In the country on business, for me it was like seeing an old friend as I entered the beer hall.  Just one more will suffice, a labeled Gambrinus from a niche in a brewery wall in Lomice, the Czech Republic.

Note:  The Gambrinus post to follow will delve more deeply into the king’s origins and illustrate various ways he has been depicted in two dimensions over the centuries.














Friday, May 9, 2014

Sniffing the Sauce with Nipper’s Clones

 In February 2012 I devoted my a post to the iconic image popularized by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) showing a small spotted dog, known as “Nipper,” listening to a phonograph with a large megaphone-like speaker.  It is shown above on a glass paperweight.  Created by British artist Francis Barraud in 1899, the picture is usually accompanied by the legend, “His Master’s Voice.”   My earlier post cited a variety of ways in which the image has been used over the years, spoofed in cartoons and in other venues.

Among Nipper “clones” shown before were several dealing with the whiskey trade.  During the ensuing 27 months I have been able to collect a number of examples of dogs sniffing the odor of alcohol.  An example is the postcard shown here of a Nipper-like terrier fixed on the scent coming though a funnel protruding from a jug on which is written “WHISKY.”  The caption reads,  “His Master’s Breath.”   Nothing subtle there.

A virtually identical theme is registered in the following image.  Represented on an oil painting is a large shaggy dog who has his nose close to a funnel stuck in a jug that says, “Old Scotch Whiskey.”  Once again the caption is “His Master’s Breath.”  This dog is shown with a bemused look and his red tongue hanging out,  as if it would like a taste of whatever is in the jug.

A third portrayal of  “His Master’s Breath” brings a different look to the theme.  This time the canine is sniffing a funnel plunged into a large metal pitcher.  In the background are large barrels with spigots.  Empty bottles are laying on the floor. The clear implication is that this scene is occurring in a distillery.   The venue is a postcard from a man named Harry Heye Tammen, born in Baltimore who moved to Denver in 1880 and began a business selling a popular line of “Colorado curiosities.”  These included mineral novelties,fossil fish, polished agates, botanical specimens, Pueblo Indian pottery, Tlingit Indian carvings, relics and taxidermy items.  To this litany can be added a line of scenic and humorous postcards, of which the one shown here is an example.  Although Tammen commissioned the art work he played a personal role in choosing subject matter.

The Nipper theme is played out once again in the image of a bulldog seemingly startled by the odors coming out of the funnel tucked in the neck of a wicker-covered jug.  This representation appears on a postcard from the early 1900s as well as on a beer stein.  The latter dates from 1900 and was the creation of the Sterling China Company of Sebring, Ohio.  The pottery firm existed under this name from 1899 to 1903 when it became the Sebring China Company and its products known as “Limoge China.”

In considering these images, some observers question whether they were carrying a pro-Prohibition message or were meant strictly to be humorous.  It has been noted that such representations ceased with the imposition of National Prohibition in 1920.  A second mode of representing Nipper, shown here, might strengthen the anti-alcohol supposition.  The theme is “His Master’s V_ice.”  Clever elision.   This representation is on a postcard with a Nipper-like dog peering down a funnel on a glass decanter marked “Whiskey.”  A pipe and tobacco pouch like next to it.  Smoking apparently was another of the master’s vices.

If there are questions about whether the images shown above are meant to be pro-Prohibition, there can be no doubt about those shown below.   “Old Tucker Whiskey” was a leading label of the Brown-Foreman Company in the pre-Prohibition era.  This Louisville, Kentucky, outfit was formed by George Brown and George Foreman in 1891 and has survived to the present day.  It chose the image to merchandise this brand, including on giveaway items it provided to favored customers.  The image appeared on a celluloid and metal pocket mirror.   Here the gramophone has been replaced by a whiskey jug and the horn by a funnel.  This bulldog “Suspects His Master.” The same image, much diminished in its legibility was also etched onto a shot glass.

For the final illustration I have chosen a canine who became every bit as famous as Nipper. He was “Bonzo the Dog.”  He was the creation of artist and cartoonist George Studdy who introduced him in 1922.  He has been described this way: Bonzo the Dog had a lovable vibe and look. He was a white, chubby dog with a droopy face and saggy skin. He had big blue eyes and expressive ears which communicated his feeling to the audience through either film or sketch. He had one black ear and one white, some small black spots on his body, and a short, stubby tail.   In the depiction here,  Bonzo clearly has gotten too close to
“His Master’s Vice,” represented by an empty brandy decanter.  To use the vernacular, Bonzo is blotto.













Friday, April 25, 2014

How Clean Were the Hands of Doctor Hand?

David Bishop Hand, shown here, was a medical doctor who extolled the safety of his patent medicines aimed at the ailments of children.  As shown on a catalogue below, they included a teething lotion, worm elixir, general tonic,  a colic cure,cough & croup medicine, and a diarrhea mixture.  All were advertised vigorously with the images of winsome -- but somewhat androgynous -- children.  But how safe were they really?  The record seems to indicate something different.

Dr. Hand was born was born in Pennsylvania in 1848 and raised on a farm but soon that medicine was his calling.  A precocious lad, he graduated from the University of the City of New York at the age of 20 and in the spring of 1880 located in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he set up practice, specializing in the diseases of children.  A biographer said of him:  “He has always been a lover of children and perhaps no physician has labored more earnestly or effectively on their behalf.  Early in his career as a physician he was very successful in treating children and for years he closely observed the effects of certain remedies, finally finding just the proper proportions to make them of greatest practical value.”

The good doctor then resigned from the medical societies of which he was a member and in 1885 placed his remedies on the market under the name, “Dr. Hand’s Remedies for Children.”  The following year he trademarked them all and advertised widely. The quick success of these nostrums led the pharmaceutical firm of Smith and Kline, later known as Smith, Kline & French, to offer him a contract.  In exchange for paying him royalties the company was given the right to market Hands’ products.

Under this merchandising agreement,  the children’s remedies from the Scranton doctor enjoyed increasing sales and were said to be a household standby with mothers from Maine to California.  Taking advantage of his unusual name,  Dr. Hand frequently advertised on his bottles and elsewhere with a hand whose fingers bore the names of each remedy.  The emphasis in his advertising was always on safety.   On his 73rd birthday in 1921 the doctor opined for a pharma journal that much of his success was due to the retail druggist who knew that Hand’s Remedies were safe.  “The druggist realizes he must be sure of the remedies he sell and he knows he can trust the Hand line.”

But just how clean were the hands of Dr. Hand?  The record seems to indicate that something different was going on.  For example his products specialized in colorful trade cards with winsome children on the front.  The backs frequently carried a lengthy message entitled “Whiskey and Babies.”  It noted that fully one hundred barrels of whiskey were being fed every day to babies under one year of age in the United States.  “Thousands of children do not draw a sober breath until they can walk and amuse themselves,” it warned.  A harmless remedy, on the other hand,  was Dr. Hand’s Teething Lotion:   “The baby is teething;  its gums are feverish; its pitiful moans almost break your heart.  An application of dr. Hand’s Teething Lotion to the gums gives it instant relief.”  It also was advertised as a remedy for toothache, neuralgia (nerve pain) and earache.

The clear implication here was that rather than rub whiskey on the gums of a teething child that Dr. Hands’ remedy.  In 1906 with the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act that required the listing of ingredients, including alcoholic content, it was revealed for the first time that Dr. Hand’s Teething Lotion was 12% alcohol (24 proof).  While not as strong as whiskey, the concoction was stronger than most wines.  Ingest enough of it and all pains would cease, even an earache.

A yet more telling example was Dr. Hand’s Worm Elixir.  This was an era when infestation of the gastric system by roundworms was fairly common, particularly for those living in straitened circumstances.   Other worm afflictions were threadworms and tapeworms.    Presumably Dr. Hand’s product cured them all.   It contained an active ingredient called “santonin," derived from the artemisia plant; a variety is shown below.  Santonin, however, was very complicated to use and entailed serious risk to patients.  King’s American Dispensary noted of this drug that, “...In improper doses, is capable of producing serious symptoms and even death.   As small a dose as two grains is said to have killed a weakly child of 5 years, and 5 grains produced death in about 1.2 hour in a child of the same age.”  King’s Dispensary went to say: Among the toxic effects may be mentioned gastric pain, pallor and coldness of the surface, followed by heat and injection of the head, tremors, dizziness, pupillary dilatation, twitching of the eyes, stertor, copious sweating, hematuria, convulsive movements, tetanic cramps, stupor, and insensibility.

It took a long time for the government officials to catch up with Dr. Hand’s Worm Elixir.  In July 1942 the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan filed a condemnation request against 23 and a half dozen bottles of the so-called elixir that had been set from Philadelphia by Smith Kline & French from Detroit.  The official claimed that the potion had been misbranded in that it was dangerous to health when used with the dosage, frequency and duration prescribed on the bottle.  The reason:   “...The amount of santonin provided by the article was sufficient to produce serious poisoning.”   In August a judgment of condemnation was entered and the product was destroyed.   Who knows how many infants were sickened or may have died over the more than a half century that this product had been sold?

By this time, Dr. Hand was beyond the reach of those hurt by his Worm Elixir.  He had died in 1923, a very rich man from the success of his nostrums for children.  With his profits he had purchased a farm in Pennsylvania which he stocked with registered Holstein cows.   When a prime Holstein bull named King Pontiac came up for sale the physician bought it for the unheard of sum of $3,000, the equivalent of $75,000 today.   He maintained his farm as a model showplace and also was known for his large investments in Pennsylvania industries including railroads, coal mines, lumber and slate.  Kiddie medicines had been very good to Dr. Hand, while questionable for his patients.

The question remains:  Did Dr. Hand know that his remedies contained potentially dangerous ingredients?   Was it ignorance or were those hands not so clean?  There are no clear cut answers but suspicions linger....