Dr. Hawks Universal Stimulant

May 4, 2016

The bottle shown here is embossed “DR. HAWKS [sic] UNIVERSAL STIMULANT”; the product was advertised at least as early as 1861.

Of aqua-colored glass, and measuring about 41/2’’ tall by 15/8’’ diameter, it was blown in a two-piece mold. (Earlier bottles, including some of Dr. Hawks’, bore a pontil scar on the bottom [Fike 2006, 166]. This was left by the glassblower’s punty, an iron rod that was temporarily stuck to the molten glass so the molded bottle could be held by a helper while the neck and lip were being shaped by hand. Later invention of the snap-case—a rod with grasping claws to hold the bottle—eliminated pontil scars. This began taking place between ca. 1850–1860 [Kendrick 1971, 25–30].)

Although sometimes the name is written “Hawk’s,” the product was created by Dr. John W. Hawks, MD, Manchester, New Hampshire. Records show that in 1850 he partnered (and also boarded) with a Dr. D.O. Collins, a “botanic physician” (i.e., herb doctor) at 15 Central Street in Manchester (“Dr. Hawks’: 2016).

According to an early advertisement, it was specified to cure headaches and toothaches, as well as other ills (Baldwin 1973). The term “universal” suggests a cure-all, and indeed it was claimed that it aids the “Circulation of the Blood, Stimulates the Various Organs and Tissues to a Lively and Healthful Action, Relieves All Pain and Soreness in Any Part of the Body and Imparts New Life and Vigor to the Whole System” (“Dr. Hawks’” 2016).

In other words, the product claimed to be a restorative, a stimulant, a painkiller, and an invigorator (imparter of vitality)—all in a single bottle! It sounds likely to have contained a goodly percentage of alcohol, no doubt along with a variety of botanicals.

References

Baldwin, Joseph K. 1973. A Collector’s Guide to Patent and Proprietary Medicine Bottles of the Nineteenth Century. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; cited in Fike 2006, 165.

Dr Hawks’ Universal Stimulant. 2016. Online at www.Vtmedicines.com/bottle294.htm; accessed April 26, 2016.

Fike, Richard E. 2006. The Bottle Book: A Comprehensive Guide to Historic, Embossed Medicine Bottles. Caldwell, NJ: The Blackburn Press.

Kendrick, Grace. 1971. The Antique Bottle Collector. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

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