Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday's postcard: Hellenic dresses

Text on the back of this postcard includes:

  • ATHENES - Costumes helleniques
  • ATHENS - Hellenic dress
  • ATHEN - Hellenische Tracht
  • Procede Mexichrome
  • Made in France

That, of course, is the Parthenon in the distance, behind these handsome young men and women.

"Hellenic" is a synonym for "Greek".

If you're interested, more on traditional Hellenic dresses can be found here and here.

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

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Join the Wartime Reducing Party

This is an advertisement from the inside back cover of the June 1943 edition of Journal of Living (The Home Nutrition Magazine). Victor H. Lindlahr was the editor of the magazine at the time and also the creator of the Wartime 7-Day Reducing Diet.

In 1940, Lindlahr had written the book "You Are What You Eat," and he is the one who originally popularized that expression.

The June 1943 issue of Journal of Living1 also included the complete "Wartime 7-Day Reducing Diet." (Apparently the diet dates to 1936, when it was just the Lindlahr 7-Day Reducing Diet, as there was no war.)

An outline of the diet's regimen:
  • Hold down the salt intake (table salt).
  • Drink no water at meals.
  • Walk a half-mile or more each day.
  • Take a hot sitting bath each night in the wintertime.
  • Set aside twenty minutes each morning for your air bath.

Air bath? Here's exactly what Lindlahr writes: "Just loll or walk about your room completely nude. Avoid drafts, of course, but be sure the air is fresh. Let the skin breathe. This burns up body weight amazingly. It is cleansing, too. Better get up a half-hour earlier. If you can't take an air bath in the morning, take it any time during the day."

The diet itself seems extremely restrictive and unhealthy. For the duration of the seven days, the average daily intake ranges from 630 to 700 calories. A typical day's lunch would consist only of fruits and vegetables, usually in the form of a salad. The first day's dinner consists of watercress salad, three-and-a-half ounces of broiled round steak, one-half cup of stewed tomato and celery and four ounces of pears. The other main courses for dinner include scrambled eggs with asparagus, a cheese omelet, broiled codfish, beef liver and broiled chicken. The bedtime snack each night is half of a grapefruit. Dieters were expected to lose, on average, one pound per day.

Presumably, Lindlahr's daily 15-minute radio show would turn this diet into a "party." As the above advertisement reads: "It's Fun to Lose Weight This Easy Way!"


1. This issue also included features titled "More Meat For Ration Points," "Food Lessons From The Great Religions," "Huey Long's Debate on Pot Liquors," "Lemonades Check Factory Colds," "The Basic Seven Foods For War Strength," and "Your Victory Garden Guide For June".

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Everyone should have one for their wall

Indeed, I have only one question about this advertisement for the Magnavox Stereo Theatre from the March 1962 issue of House Beautiful magazine:

What the hell is that on the wall??


I'm going to need some answers.

(In the meantime, if you now have a hankering for vintage electronics advertisements, I recommend this site.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Are new independent bookstores "tilting at windmills"?

There's quite a bit in the news these days about the future of books and bookstores1.

Borders appears to be on life support.

Sales of e-books have more than doubled in each of the past three years, according to this Associated Press article. The article has a pro-digital analyst predicting that 90 percent of bookstore shelf space could disappear from the United States in the next 10 years. We'd go from 1,200 large bookstores to "maybe 150 decent-sized stores."

Others have hope, though. This article in Crain's, regarding the independent bookstore scene in New York City, focuses on some recent success stories. Independents can be nimble, while a company such as Borders simply cannot be.

Those NYC stores are hedging their bets. A portion of their revenue is coming from products such as "hand-carved chess sets from India" and $6 greeting cards.

But there are those who think that while the independents might see a short-term boost from a possible collapse of Borders, it simply won't last in a future dominated by digital.

“The new indies are tilting at windmills,” Albert Greco, a Fordham University professor who studies the book industry, says in the Crain's article.

"The traditional bookstore is doomed by e-readers and online sales of hard copy books," adds Nobel laureate economist Gary Becker.

What do you think? Do you go to retail bookstores any more? Do you pay full price for new books any more? Are chess sets and artsy greeting cards truly going to save bookstores?

Of course, none of this mentions used bookstores. We have great places for used books here in the York area, including the York Emporium. And I suspect there will continue to be a strong niche market for places where you can find those slices of the past that simply can't be replicated on an e-book reader.

Feb. 10 addendum

1. I mentioned the 2003 demise of one bookstore in this previous post.

Please remember to proofread the advertisements

"Let Us Meet Your Needs With
Meet That is Pure"

...reads this botched advertisement from the October 4, 1919, edition of The State Register1 of Laurel, Delaware. (Price 3 cents per copy.)

It's a shame they bungled the play on words with meet/meat. Think somebody got yelled at when the newspaper came out? Think that person ever dreamed his or her error would be highlighted on something called "the internet" 91 years later?

I love the portion of the advertisment that reads: "scrapple2 that is eatable."

I couldn't find much more about George C. Spicer's sanitary, government-supervised meat shop.

I do believe, however, that I found some information about Spicer's family tree.

Seems he was born around 1890 and married Eliza Jane Culver around 1913. They had five children: George Irving Spicer, Anna Louise Spicer, Mary Spicer, Edward Spicer and Erma Esther Spicer.


1. According to the Delaware Public Archives on the state's website: "The Laurel Gazette was a weekly newspaper published in Laurel. By 1896 it had combined with the Sussex Countian to form The Sussex Countian and Laurel Gazette. It was renamed The State Register in 1904."

2. My wife has written a lot about scrapple on her blog "Only in York County". Some of those entries:

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.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mystery Photo: Found inside an old poetry book

This was tucked away inside a 19th century volume of poems by George Eliot.

Interestingly, it vaguely looks a little like Eliot, aka Mary Anne Evans (at right). Of course, it's almost certainly not her. But an amusing similarity nonetheless.

I come across many copies of Eliot's "Silas Marner" in scouting and sorting through books. Have not read it, but was surprised to discover that it served as an inspiration or basis for such disparate films as:

And now that I've drawn a connection between a photo in a 19th century volume of poetry and a "Black Snake Moan," I think I need to be done for the day.