Search using this query type:



Search only these record types:

Item
File
Collection
Exhibit
Exhibit Page

Advanced Search (Items only)

The Shaker Extract of Roots bottle

Dublin Core

Subject

Description

The Skeptiseum is happy to receive items related to the Shakers and their herbal and other medicinal products. They were a sect founded by a "visionary," 'Mother' Ann Lee. She sailed from England to New York in 1774 to spread her new faith in the Second Coming of Christ. The utopian adherents' ecstatic shaking and trembling earned them their sobriquet, "Shakers," and their farming communities became renowned for crafts of aesthetic simplicity. (See "Ghosts at a Shaker Village," Skeptical Briefs, Summer 2012, pp. 7-8.).

The Shaker religious community of Mt. Lebanon, New York, was well-known for its production of prolific amounts of medicinal extracts and their raw ingredients. In 1875 medicine maker Andrew J. White established a business relationship with the Shaker community, agreeing to purchase his raw botanical ingredients from the Shakers in exchange for a business loan. White helped the Shakers meet their growing need for distribution. He printed the Shaker almanacs and sold their products. He solicited agents for the purpose, noting that "The business is respectable, for all goods made by the Shakers are known to possess real merit. It can not be classed with the ordinary patent Medicines of the day, as there is no secret about its composition, the formula from which it is prepared being printed on each bottle."

White's reputation before this business deal was that of a shady quack/patent medicine salesman, known for his "Mother Siegel's Curative Syrup," which (according to the August 22, 1884 issue of Health: A Weekly Journal of Sanitary Science) contained a "...decoction of aloes, with borax, capsicum, gentian, oil of sassafras, oil of wintergreen, taraxacum, treacle, and rectified spirit." Trading this hodgepodge recipe for the reputation of ingredient purity associated with the Shaker community would surely lead to a great resurrection of both reputation and business for Mr. White, and it worked. White helped the Shakers meet their growing need for distribution. He printed the Shaker almanacs and sold their products. He solicited agents for the purpose, noting that "The business is respectable, for all goods made by the Shakers are known to possess real merit. It can not be classed with the ordinary patent Medicines of the day, as there is no secret about its composition, the formula from which it is prepared being printed on each bottle." (The bottle had a paper label pasted on and this eventually came off, probably because it had been buried, as suggested some iridescence to the surface of the bottle.)

The Shakers also made for White his "White's Curative Syrup." A Shaker record for the community at Mt. Lebanon dated October 5, 1881, stated: "Brother Benjamin came to offer the Church a chance to prepare and put up a new medicine compounded and invented by A.J. White of New York who gives preparations to the amount of twelve hundred dollars and New Lebanon gives two hundred. The Church gladly and gratefully accept [sic] the offer." (See Amy Bess Miller, Shaker Medicinal Herbs, Pownal, VT: Storey Books, 1998, pp. 45, 49-50, 96. See also Richard E. Fike, The Bottle Book, Caldwell, NJ: The Blackburn Press, 2006, pp. 170, 186, 231.) Andrew White's company was successful enough to be carried on by his son, Albert J. White, until the corporate entity of "A.J. White" was sold to Smith, Kline, and French Laboratories in 1957.

Creator

A. J. White and Co.

Publisher

A. J. White and Co.

Date

Rights

Digital image copyright 2014 Images in this collection are not to be used for any commercial purposes without the expressed written permission of the Center for Inquiry and Dr. Joe Nickell. Patrons of this digital museum are free to utilize materials from the museum for non-commercial and educational purposes.

Language

English