Sunday, February 17, 2013

Palmetto State Druggist - G.W. Aimar & Co. - Part I - 1880s Letters

"[I have] concluded that I must stop my free use of liquor, somehow...I have reformed for over a month now and I am satisfied I can hold out...send me (1) one bottle of Schiedam Schnapps...want it in the home as medicine." - Letter to G. W. Aimar & Co., August 4, 1880.

This post is the first of three parts on Charleston, South Carolina, druggist Dr. George Washington Aimar (1827-77) and his firm, which was in Charleston - and in the family - from 1852 to 1978.

In this first part, I include a few letters in my collection from customers to Aimar & Co. in the late 1870s and early 1880s; in the second part, I'll include some additional biographical information, including his service (and the firm's) service in the Civil War; the third part will include photographs of some Aimar bottles in my collection, and photos of rare bottles kindly supplied by other collectors.

The letters included in this post are interesting on several accounts: they document Aimar's popularity with more than just his Charleston customer as they are written as mail orders; they document some of the medicines - esp. patent medicine - popular in the state in that period of time; they give some sense of the prices for these drugs and how they were delivered.

I start with perhaps the most interesting one: a letter from a customer who writes he has given up "drinking whisky and all other intoxicating drinks," but asks for bitters and schnapps for "medicine." He asks for several other well known "medicines" (heavy in alcohol) by name, including Hostetter Bitters and California Vinegar Bitters.

Another letter asks for several well-known patent medicines by name:August Flowers, Boschee's German Syrup, Magic Oil, Brandreth's Pills, and Allcock's Plasters.

Another letter I have, that I do not show here, is interesting in that it asks Aimar to send some...errrrrr...sexual aids...for a "young man of bad habits."

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