Wednesday, August 21, 2013


At 18 years of age, William Thomas Rawleigh started his Freeport, Illinois business in 1889 with a borrowed horse, a mortgaged buggy, $15 in hand, and four kinds of "Good Health Products."  Eventually, the company expanded its product line to include such things as cleaning agents, flavourings, ointments, and so on.  By the 1920's, their products were estimated to be in 20 million American households.  As this old pill box indicates, at one point they had a Canadian subsidiary based out of Toronto and Winnipeg.  Their fortunes declined after the 1940's, but they're still around today in another incarnation. 

A.H. Lewis was another American company that also did business in Canada out of Windsor, Ontario.
The printing design used on tins at that time left something to be desired.  It looks like it's advising you to "drink ass full of water."  In fact, the instructions begin on the side of the tin.

Below, an ad from 1923.

A.H. Lewis owned a drug store in Bolivar, Missouri.  In the early 1880's he concocted a patent medicine he named "Nature's Remedy".  As a mild vegetable laxative, it sold well.  Five years later, he convinced his 14-year-old nephew, John Harvey Howe, to join him in the store.  By 1901, the company had grown to the point where it relocated to St. Louis, Missouri.  Howe took over the company after Lewis's death in 1928.  Howe had become a trained pharmacist who had his own basement laboratory out of his house.  To help with his wife's indigestion, he prepared an antacid from calcium and peppermint oil, making tablets using the "Nature's Remedy" machines.  Originally, he only gave them to his wife.  However, during a vacation cruise, he shared them with other passengers who were complaining of seasickness or other stomach complaints, and they were very well received.  In 1930, he released them to the market as "Tums."  Within three years they were selling all over the world, completely by word of mouth.

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