Sunday, February 8, 2015

Object of the Day: A Trade Card for Blood Bitters

Click on image to enlarge.

Burdock Blood Bitters. That sounds tasty. It wasn’t made of blood. It wasn’t made by someone named Burdock. Apparently, this medicinal elixir was made from a type of thistle called burdocks. Burdocks have been ground up for centuries and used in a suspension to calm the stomach. The practice was especially popular in monastic orders who, I suppose, have little else to do when not praying and baking bread. Blood Bitters were meant to cleanse the blood and to encourage intestinal health.

And, so, here’s another trade card from my collection. Printed by Coback and Company of Buffalo New York, I’d guess this card dates to the late 1870s. The front features a chromolithograph of a happy tot in a fine little outfit of turquoise velvet, a rough and cute little sash of gold and red silk. He even has little shoes and attractive pink socks.

I can’t help but be a little disturbed by the face that he’s making. I suppose that’s the face of a being with happy bowels. He holds aloft a bottle of Burdock Blood Bitters and he seems to be saying, “Look at this. This will please your bowels.”

Sadly, the reverse of the card is a little ruined after having been first glued into an album (which is really for what these cards were intended), and then, ripped out of said album a century later. On one hand, being in an album preserved this card for over a hundred years and allowed me to add it to my collection so I can preserve it even longer. However, it also compromised the integrity of the reverse printing.

Let’s see if we can’t make out some of it.

_________ on receipt of 3 ct _______ 
____________ & Co. Buffalo, N.Y. 

DON’T DO __ T 
     Don’t get married if you have dyspepsia _____
stomach are pretty sure to breed misery in __________
     DON’T attempt a big job of work with the __________
plaint, as ten to one you’ll fail.
     DON'T try to be a society favorite if you are bilious.
Sour folks are poor company.
     Don’t aspire to any high position in the world if you
are debilitated, nervous or weak. It is the strong and
tough who win.
     DON’T imagine that ______________ life if your bloos
is impoverished.
     DON’T labor to loo_______________ a case of scrofula
on your hands.
    DON’T malign t______________ you’ve no appetite.
Tone you your stomach ___________
     DON’T drag through _______ with any of the dis-
eases we have here _________ is a way to avoid it.
     DON’T forget that Burdock Blood Bitters cure dys-
pepsia, cure disorders of the liver and kidneys, cure
nervousness, biliousness, constipation, debility, any
disease of the blood.
     DON’T forget that Burdock Blood Bitters are whole-
some, economical, quick to relieve, thoroughly satis-
________, and can be obtained of any druggist ____. 

Well, that’s not scary at all. Very uplifting ad copy. Not at all like a demented scrofulous Mad-Lib.

Then, on the bottom, stamped crookedly in pink (which I suspect was once red), it reads:

Sold by A.L. Field, Druggist 
251 Thorndike St., Davis Corner 

Lowell, Mass. 

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