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From the desk of Alison Gibson, Director
Randall Walker has been gracious enough to fill Ripley’s display case with many of his finds from privy digging in Ripley—we invite you to stop in and look at the ever-changing group of items. Last week he brought in a Maddox bottle that was once filled with their Japanese Cough Balsam. Of course, we had to look this up. Maddox Drug Store was in the building across from the Library at the corner of Main and Second Street. We first see it heavily advertised in the 1870 Ripley Bee, and remains a staple of Maddox’s Drug Store at least through 1892. We really have very few papers in the 1890s so it could have gone on for years more.
The advertising is fun–“sold 10,000 bottles in last 6 months”, “do not neglect your cough”. and just before the 1876 April elections, the following “Please announce Maddox’s Japanese Cough Balsam as a candidate for public favor during the continuing year. It promises to be true to the interests of the people”. Maddox’s firmly believed in their product, having it the major portion of their advertising in the Wiggins and Weaver Ohio River Directory 1871-72 as well as other publications that went far beyond Ripley.
What was in the balsam? Haven’t found their recipe, but in looking at old time cough syrups, it could have had opium or morphine in it as many cough remedies did, or could have been made from pine tree resin with assorted other ingredients. Exotic locations were common in patent medicine names and Maddox’s may or may not have been inspired by something Japanese. Over in Europe, American cures were advertised, with heavy emphasis on Native American potions!
Our libraries will be closed this Friday, November 11th in observation of Veteran’s Day. Thanks to all the veterans for all that they do to keep us safe.