Monday, February 7, 2011

Delving into Henry K. Wampole & Company

I recently found a tri-fold brochure for Wampole's Preparation tucked away inside an old book. (I think it might have been a bible.) And so it sent me off on a quest for more information...

Eight things I learned about Henry K. Wampole & Company

1. From the brochure itself: "Originated in 1880 in the laboratories of Henry K. Wampole & Company, Philadelphia, U.S.A., and since continuously manufactured by them, history thus records that WAMPOLE'S PREPARATION is the pioneer -- truly the original and genuine of the tonic preparations of this type."

2. Also from the brochure: The tonic consists of "Extract of Cod Livers, Extract of Malt, Calcium, Iron and Manganese, in readily assimilable form, also Fluidextract of Wild Cherry and other ingredients of tonic value." The Buffalo Medical Journal (Volume 44) of 1888 further details how this tonic was a breakthrough for Wampole's and the medical industry. It gave doctors a better way to administer cod liver oil: "Messrs. Henry K. Wampole & Co., of Philadelphia have well-nigh solved this whole problem in furnishing to the profession a preparation in which the oil is so completely disguised as to taste, odor and appearance, that it can be administered to the most delicate person without producing nausea, or other unpleasant after-symptoms. ... It should not be overlooked by any physician in casting about for a remedy to relieve brain-fag1, headache, and nerve-tire in general."

3. The tonic came in 16-ounce bottles that were sold for $1 by "druggists everywhere." (I'm not sure what year this brochure was published. My guess would be the 1930s.)

4. Some history on the start of the company, according to Digger Odell Publications and (a nice source for information on old bottles):

"In a small building on Fourth St., near Arch, was started in the early 70s by the late Henry K. Wampole a druggists' outfitting business of modest proportions, but back of this business was such untiring, indomitable energy that its proportions so rapidly if creased that within a few years the location was successively changed to Vine street, to Market, to Fourth and Arch, to Second and Arch, and eventually to Green street, near Fifth, these changes being the result of always of a demand for larger quarters to accommodate the rapidly developing business. Changes too in the character of the business had been made, the outfitting giving way to a wholesale drug business."

5. Also according to, Albert Koch and Samuel Ross Campbell joined Wampole in the business in early 1878.

6. Business boomed and expanded across the planet. A "large and handsomely equipped laboratory" was opened in Perth, Ontario, in 1905, (nice building picture here) complementing the Philadelphia laboratory. adds some details: "In 1905 H.K. Wampole & Co. built a 4-storey factory to produce a new tasteless extract preparation of cod liver and other pharmaceutical products. The factory was demolished in 1963 when the Company moved to a modem complex on Dufferin Street along #7 Highway."

7. According to, the company also made something called Wampole's Milk Food:
"It’s makers, Henry K. Wampole & Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, claimed it contained malted cereals, beef and milk2. Company advertisements claimed 'There is nothing in it that is not found in mother’s milk; there is nothing in mother’s milk that is not found in Wampole’s Milk Food'. A 1901 medical paper claimed it was the ideal preparation for the nourishment of persons undergoing treatment for opium or morphine addiction. One wonders how big a market that was."

8. Mr. Wampole met a sad end. According to the October 1906 issue of "Practical Druggist and Review of Reviews":

"The body of H.K. Wampole, head of the firm of Henry K. Wampole & Co., of Philadelphia, was found floating in the North River off Weehawken on Friday, September 14. On the previous Saturday two physicians started with Mr. Wampole for a sanitarium in the Adirondacks. He had been suffering from a physical breakdown, and it was feared that if he did not get a complete rest his mind would give way. While the three were stopping at a Courtlandt street hotel in New York, Mr. Wampole eluded them and was not seen again by those who knew him utnil [sic] his body was found nearly a week later. His son said that for the past five years it had been evident that his father had been failing mentally. It was thought it was merely a case of overwork, but a long rest seemed to do him no good, so that finally it was deemed best to send him to a sanitarium."

Wampole, who had been born in 1849, was survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter. His surviving partners, Koch and Campbell, continued the firm under his name after his death. The company was acquired by the Denver Chemical Mfg. Co. in September 1957.

All of his has whetted my appetite for more information about Wampole and his company. There don't appear to be any books specifically on Wampole & Co., but there is plenty of information and relics floating around online, including information about an intriguing "Virgin Mary" advertisement that I will write about another time.

In the meantime, also included in the tri-fold brochure were advertisements for Wampole's Pap-Ken (for acid indigestion, sour stomach, gas and heartburn) and Wampole's Creo-Terpin (a stimulating expectorant for coughs due to colds). Those advertisements are shown below:

Read more about Wampole's in this October 21, 2011, entry: Wampole's Creo-Terpin ink blotter from Ensley, Alabama

1. You don't hear that term -- brain-fag -- much these days, do you? It does have its own Wikipedia entry, though.
2. Well, beef and milk do come from the same animal. Actually, here's a fun page that describes "beef tea," "peptonized beef tea" and "milk lemonade." Enjoy.


  1. Howdy - it turns out that old Henry had indeed suffered from brain-fag. He had been actively taking his company for a ride. It seems he embezzled a goodly amount estimated at ranging from $200000.00 to as much as $900000.00. According to newspaper articles they never figured out what he did with the money.

  2. Thanks for the info! I write a blog using my great-grandfather's diary from 1927 and he mentioned buying a bottle of Wampole's. I had no idea what it was and so set off on a search and found your blog! Will add a link for my readers to find out more. My blog is at

  3. My fiancé and I found a TON of old glass bottles off a trail in the woods of Oxford, GA this afternoon. We dug about twenty bottles of different shapes, sizes and colors out of piles of dirt and leaves. (you'd have thought we struck gold by our excitement! ) one of these bottles was the typical Wampole & co. Bottle. Thanks for providing information! Your blog has been super helpful!

  4. I'm in London Ontario and recently bought a sewing machine and sewing box from a thrift store. Inside I found a Wampole's C-2 Cetyloid-Compound box and went looking for more info (the box says for pain relief). I haven't been able to find anything like it online, but came across your blog looking for Wampole's. Thanks for the great post.

    (I also found two tintype photos inside the Wampole's box that, from what I can find and the clothes they are wearing, date back to 1850s era!)


  5. I am looking for information about Wampole's methods of procuring herbs for their products. A woman who lived in my area (about 20 miles north of Victoria BC, Canada) from the 1920s to the 1960s and perhaps longer, collected herbs locally for Wampoles, are told.

    In a rush right now, but will figure out how to contact you later.


  6. Ah, how the internet takes us down lanes and paths! I'm putting together a chronology of the architectects Schermerhorn & Phillips in an effort to save a local 1917 school building they designed. In 1906 it appears they designed a factory building for Mr. Wampole... but as you note above, he killed himself.

    I'm beginning to wonder about these architects.... in 1902 they were designing a house for a Mr. Acuff who suddenly dropped dead due to "paralysis of the heart."

    Thanks for sharing your Walpole insights!

  7. Chris:

    How do u value the paper matter u research ? Thank Q for ur time.


    Carl Davis

  8. I was working on cleaning a house that was destroyed by the March 2nd, 2012 tornados here in east Kentucky and found an old label off of a box of Wampole's but couldn't figure out what it was. Thanks, this was informative and interesting.
    Morehead, KY

  9. Any idea what a Henry K Lampole I gallon crock would be worth? I found one while cleaning out our cellar. It is in prime condition.

    1. Has anyone gave you a estimate on your crock? I just picked up a 5 gallon one.

  10. I love your information. One of my family names is Wampole and they resided in the Philadelphia area. I am currently trying to connect the family history I have to see if he is listed! I had never heard of the company until I bought a 1930's bottle with his Preparation label on it and I bought it for the family name. There is definitely always more to our family stories!!! Thanks again for the history lesson.

    1. I also am related to the Wampole name via George W. Wampole. Not sure if or how he was related to Henry Wampole. Also related to Shermerhorn. Interesting how these names were connected in history.

  11. We found a bottle from JK Wampole. Any relationship to this company?

  12. Many so-called suicides or mental breakdowns were, and still are, caused by business "partners" who intend, right from the start, to kill (rob) the original have inventor.
    Muppets inventor Jim Hensen (whose media empire was growing) died at age 53 from a fast-acting strep infection. Cui bono?
    Michael Eisner absorbed Henson's muppet empire.

  13. I’ve a bottle 7/8ths full with the box that I recovered out of a old home demo in California.

    1. I worked as Sr. Product Development Chemist at Wampole Inc. Perth Ontario Canada when it was sold in 1993. I was there from1971 to 1993. I have a huge amount of memorabilia , old product ,books etc.

  14. I have a clear blown medicine bottle 7 to 8 inches tall embossed Henry K Wampole Philadelphia PA curious of it's worth