Monday, August 16, 2010

It Hits the Spot! Dr. Blosser's Catarrh Remedy!

I recently added a new item to my patent medicine collection - an (empty) box of "Dr. Blosser's Catarrh Remedy" (c. 1908-1920)...the product was originally (c. 1899-1907)0 billed as "Blosser's Catarrh Cure" but had to be re-labeled as "Remedy" due to changes in drug labeling laws.

I'm excited to add the small box (a cube, 3 to 4 inches a side) to my collection as it represents a new "method of delivery" among the therapies I've collected: teas, pills, syrups, bitters, and now: Blosser's cigarettes (100 to the box)!

Below are photos of the box and some period advertisements (one from the Atlanta Constitution, 1902, and the other from a London newspaper- Lloyd's Weekly News - 1913)

Fortunately, we know something of Dr. Blosser, as he is the subject of a biographical sketch in History of the Descendants of Christian Wenger (1903), an excerpt of which is below:

Joseph W. Blosser was born at Dayton, Rockingham Co., Va. [April 23, 1844] At the age of fourteen he moved with his parents to Upshur Co., W. Va., in 1858, and at the early age of 21 he graduated in medicine from the Physio Medical College at Cincinnati, Ohio, after which he practiced medicine, first in Elkhart Co., Ind., and then in Jasper Co., Mo. He was married to Margaret E. Stephenson, Oct. 15, 1868. From early childhood he had strong religious inclinations...In 1870 he entered the ministry and from that year until 1881 he either practiced medicine or served as a pastor of a congregation, about half of the time doing double work as physician and minister of the gospel. ...In 1895 he moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and engaged in business, however giving a share of his time to the work of the ministry, until the year 1902, when he retired from business, and built a tabernacle with a seating capacity of about 800 people, and became the pastor of the congregation which he had thus gathered together. He is also the inventor of the "Dr. Blosser's Catarrh Cure," an excellent and widely known remedy for catarrh, the manufacture of which forms quite an industry, which is now superintended by his two worthy sons, who employ many helpers.

Government chemists found the cigarettes to be composed of chamomile, anise, cubeb, and pepper.

Apart from the (dubious?) medical properties of the cigarettes, Dr. Blosser endured significant troubles when he was accused of participating in a "testimonial brokers" racket - wherein various quack medicine vendors sold each other testimonial letters and mailing lists - detailed in Samuel Hopkin Adams's Great American Fraud: Articles on the Nostrum Evil and Quackery (1912). Blosser protested his innocence but Adams was able to produce a goodly number of letters.


Robert said...

What a nice find. I am always impressed with the research you provide when you show items from your collection! It really puts the item in perspective and helps us understand it.

Jim Schmidt said...

Robert - Thanks for the kind words! Actually, that's what makes it fun for *me* also! Jim

Anonymous said...

Last year while remodeling a small pharmacy in Minnesota, I happened to stumble upon a box of these in the basement, untouched. The box is red, cardboard, and contains 200 cigarettes. The box is labeled "Blossers Cigarettes" for Bronchial Asthma Paroxysms.
It's in fantastic, almost new shape. I haven't been able to find much info on them. Thanks for the info in your past blog!

Jake Smith - MN

Unknown said...

I have a book on the Beery family history, printed in 1905, with my great-grandfather as a descendent. Dr. Joseph W. Blosser is also one of the descendants. The article about him reads very closely to what you found. In fact, my googling "the Dr. Blosser catarrh remedy" is what lead me to your page. If you would like any other information, just let me know!

ManaTee said...

I discovered a pack of Blosser's Cigarettes this weekend at my parent's home that belonged to my grandfather. Mama said he smoked them for his asthma. lol Here's the link to the pictures.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I found your web site! I unwittingly photographed Dr. Blosser's grave a few weeks ago when I was looking for a photo request for Find a Grave. I had no idea who he was. Sadly, his grandson died at the age of 14 from tetanus. He was accidentally wounded during a hunting trip and died from an infection.