Friday, February 11, 2011

An old copy of The Herbalist Almanac

This is the cover of the 1932 edition1 of The Herbalist Almanac, a slim publication of the Indiana Botanic Gardens, a longtime retailer of herbal products.

Indiana Botanic Gardens was founded in 1910 by Joseph Meyer in Hammond, Indiana. Meyer also had experience in the printing industry, having worked at The Hammond Times for a period. And so his background and interest in herbs and printing dovetailed nicely.

The first edition of The Herbalist Alamanac was published in 19252. According to Wikipedia: "The Herbalist Almanac was an eclectic booklet that contained everything from listings of the herbs and roots that the company sold, recipes, Indian weather forecasts, treatments for common ailments, popular songs of the day, [and] advice on farming issues."

Some interesting tidbits from this 1932 edition of The Herbalist Almanac:
  • Ironite (Item No. 2036 -- Price $2.00 a bottle) is recommended "for man or beast" and is claimed to help with catarrh of the nose, skin affections, cuts and bruises, ear trouble, pyorrhea, tonsillitis, throat troubles, boils, sores, ulcers, piles, "as a douche for women" and for "private parts".3
  • The weather forecast for February 10-13, 1932, called for: "Cloudy and more or less rain in the Middle Atlantic and New England States; light winds and stormy, and blizzard conditions locally throughout the Northwest; milder in south sections." (Anyone want to check the historical data and see how that forecast turned out? Were there any Northwest blizzards?)
  • A writer called "The Medicine Man" (probably Meyer himself) wondered if yarrow has "magic powers". He writes, in part: "The head bathed in a decoction of Yarrow prevents the hair from falling out; while the leaves chewed in the mouth will frequently ease toothache. During the Civil War this herb was used as a substitute for Quinine in fevers."

The Herbalist Alamanac was published through 19794.

Indiana Botanic Gardens now has online and mail-order sales for its Botanic Choice line of herbal products. I signed up for one of their free mail-order catalogs. I'm guessing it won't be as folksy and colorful as The Herbalist Almanac.

1. I picked this up for $1 at an antiques store in northern Maryland in early 2010, while my wife slept in the car on our trip home from a conference in Virginia.
2. Meyer had previously published a book, "The Herbalist," in 1918.
3. Other than that, though, it's not recommended for much. (Also, Ironite is now a registered product name for something you put on plants, not people.)
4. "The Herbalist Almanac: A Fifty Year Anthology" was published in 1988. Its description: "a fascinating anthology of material from the first 50 years of the almanac includes information gleaned from rare herbals and European sources; accounts of American Indian botany; information for use in gardening and the home; and recipes for health, beauty and cooking uses." As of this writing, some used copies were available for as little as a penny on


  1. how do i order this book

  2. i have several of these years,1940, 1941, 1943,1947, 1948 (3), 1950(2), 1951, 1953, 1956. Where can i go about selling them?? if you might know. Thank you

    1. Anonymous,
      What would you sell these pamphlets for?
      Reply to

  3. I have copies dated as late as 1981. The earlier years have cover art signed "C. Meyer," which is likely to be Clarence Meyer, one of Joseph Meyer's sons, as he illustrated other editions and colletions from the company later.