Two spectacular quack medicine bottles sold as a pair. If you collect patent medicine or quack medicine bottles then most certainly you’re familiar with Davis Vegetable Pain Killer. The name, advertising and bottles had been synonymous with American Patent medicine for over a hundred years. The medicine first appeared on the American medicinal landscape in the 1840s and without more accurate research it’s my personal understanding that the name and medicines dominated the American market well into the 1940s before being bought out by a national conglomerate.
These bottles are as close to priceless as you can get if you appreciate the history, the art and the ingenuity behind the world of Patent Medicines. Charlatans by any measure, it is none the less undeniably fascinating in the art of persuasion and manipulation.
These two label only bottles are the only examples I have ever in 40 years of collecting, come across. Two different sizes, the larger standing 4 3/8 inches and the smaller at just over 3 inches. Both are 12 panelled utility label only bottles. Tremendous character in manufacture they each feature a deep, rough, tubular open pontilled bases and very crude rolled lips. The labels on each feature a wonderfully crude woodcut illustration of the good man himself along with additional text, address and price as follows… PAIN KILLER / MANUFACTURED BY / PERRY DAVIS / THE ORIGINAL INVENTOR / NO. 74 HIGH ST., PROVIDENCE R.I. / COPY RIGHT SECURED /
The larger bottle then reads (PR)ICE 25 CTS and the smaller bottle reads (PRICE) 17 1/2 CTS
The best line on these bottles is the last line on each label, because of the chipping due to the age you have to read from both labels to understand the full statement. Not only does it reflect the politics of the era and the criminal nature of the trade not to mention it clearly reveals why these label only bottles are so incredibly rare, I would go as far as to say these are the only examples known…
DESTROY THIS LABEL AS SOON AS THE (BOTTLE IS EMPTY) / THIS WILL PREVENT FR(AUD)
In a word for any serious patent medicine collector… spectacular!