William E. Clarke of Providence, Rhode Island produced and marketed “Hunt’s Remedy”, a widely sold nostrum for kidney complaints, for decades. Research into Providence city directories from 1859 (no mention of Clarke) through 1910 provides insight into Clarke and his activities.
His name first appears in 1860, listed as a clerk at a business located at 43 Wickenden Street; I suspect the number “43” might be a typographical error and that Clarkemay have worked at the apothecary and dry goods store of Benjamin Bailey at 46 & 48 Wickenden.
Clarke’s home address is given as 58 Sheldon Street, which is also the address of John Clarke, “Carpenter & Builder”.
I strongly suspect that John (whose directory appearances and advertisements date back to 1850) was William’s father.
The Hunt’s store at 28 Market Street with his traveling wagon posed out front, complete with dog sitting in the front, 1860s. The man in the doorway is likely William E. Clarke, and the driver holding the reins may well be his traveling salesman W. B. Blanding. ( from a stereo view in Sheaff collection ).
William’s name does not appear again until 1864, at the end of the Civil War. Research in other sources indicate that he enrolled in the 11th Regiment of the Rhode Island Volunteers on September 15, 1862.
On November 4, 1863 Clarke married Emma P. Mason of Providence. In the 1864 directory he is listed as an apothecary at 233 South Main Street (“Corner of South Main and Transit Sts.”), and as boarding at 58 Williams Street. In 1866 he is listed as a clerk again, at 40 Weybosset Street (the address of Mason, Dawley & Baker, apothecaries).
Importantly to the story of his career, in 1866 the earliest advertisement for Hunt’s Remedy of Providence which I have so far uncovered (appearing on a broadsheet “The National Hotel Register”, December 5, 1866, Worcester, Massachusetts) lists “William E. Clarke, Proprietor, 28 Market Street, Providence.
” The 1867 Providence directory lists him as the proprietor of an apothecary at 28 Market Street. Later, in an 1883 Hunt’s Remedy “ABC” advertising pamphlet, Clarke states that Hunt’s Remedy “had been on the market several years prior to 1867” and also that “In 1867 Hunt’s Remedy attracted my particular attention”.
The most common Hunt’s Remedy trade card “Copyrighted 1883”
Is this an image of a librarian carefully reaching for a carefully placed book, carefully arranged in a carefully-odd Borgesian-style library housing only books of the same height and thickness?
Or is this a librarian in a Library of the Same Book, housing thousands of copies of copies of the same book, climbing the ladder to make sure that he had a copy of just the copy that was requested (“a copy held at least 5 feet from the ground, near a side window though not touching a vertical piece of wood”)?
Neither. These are shelves filled with nothing but uncut sheets of playing cards, housed for the playing card factory somewhere in Paris (?) “during the reign of Louis XIV”.
Playing cards, which were introduced to Europe via Marco Polo from China or traders coming from the Middle East or etc., are much older in Europe than one would think, I think, and by the time this print was made, playing cards were already quite popular there for two centuries.
I can’t identify all of the activities of all of the twelve tables of card preparation here, though some seem pretty obvious: the trimmer working near the pressman, the sorters and assemblers of decks of cards at the lower left corner, the paper preparer (?) just to the right of the man on the ladder, the pair of men preparing the type trays at middle-bottom, and that’s about it.
In any event I’m right or I’m wrong on this guess, about the same odds as being dealt “nothing” in a game of five-card poker (almost 1:1 odds), but that’s fine: I just like the composition of the print.
Elaborate Vintage Cigar Box Labels: A Plethora of Themes and Visual Curiosities
The collecting of cigar boxes is, like the collecting of stamps and coins, a specialized field of interest.
Peculiar Postage, which previously appeared here on Dark Roasted Blend, was not intended as a detailed study of stamps, merely a look at some of the more curious examples.
Similarly, the following article examines just a small selection of some of the most striking cigar box artwork from years gone by.
(Images in this article, unless otherwise noted, are courtesy Cigar Box Labels; used by permission)
Originally, cigars were sold to customers in bundles covered with pigs’ bladders, if you can believe it…
This hardly seems guaranteed to drive sales, but you’ll be relieved to know that vanilla was used to make this pork packaging smell a little sweeter. Large chests that could hold around 1,000 stogies were next introduced, but by the 1830s, cigars were being packaged in sealed cedar boxes.
Cedar apparently stops the cigars from drying out and matures the tobacco as well, but either way it sounds like a distinct improvement on the bacon bladders.
Between 1800 and 1960, wood was used to create around 80% of cigar boxes. The most common variety, called “nailed wood”, comprises six pieces of wood nailed together and holds 50 cigars.