Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Real "Lincoln Label"!

I have dubbed as "Lincoln's Labels" the extant companies like Brooks Brothers, Borden's, Tiffany's, Scientific American magazine, du Pont, Squibb, and American Express, that played an important role in the Civil War.

Cynical folks might find my play on words to be nothing more than alluring alliteration or clever marketing. They are partly right...it's been said that the perfect book title would be Lincoln's Doctor's Dog, and I am third of the way there with my new book, Lincoln's Labels.

Still, the cynics are only partly right: in fact, almost every company I write about in my book had dealings with President Lincoln, either in his capacity as commander-in-chief or as an ordinary consumer.

Of course, after the war and Lincoln's assassination, companies appropriated the fallen President's image for their own purposes, so that they are the real "Lincoln's Labels." A good example is the Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, which received permission from Lincoln's son to use his father's likeness and name.

Another example is shown above in the form of a container (c. 1907) that I have recently added to my collection: Lincoln Tea! The awesome part is that the box was still completely full of the ground up roots, herbs, etc.!

As an object, the box of tea helps with two lines of inquiry I'm interested in: "patent medicines" and the use of Lincoln's image for commercial purposes.

Stay posted for the results of my research...right now, I'm going to make a cup of tea...I'm feeling a wee touch of biliousness today.

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