“Otto’s Cure” for Consumption, Etc.
February 17, 2017
“Otto’s Cure for Throat & Lungs” was allegedly effective for diseases including whooping cough and consumption (tuberculosis). (There were many such bogus consumption cures.)
A box for Otto’s Cure (exhibited on the Smithsonian website [“Otto’s Cure” 2017]) describes it as “Otto’s Cure, the German Remedy for Throat and Lung Diseases.” The rear of the box states: “Cures Consumption, Hemorrhages, Asthma, Bronchitis, Croup, Whooping Cough, Hoarseness, Coughs, Colds, Tickling in the Throat, Loss of Voice, Cankered Throat, Chronic Weakness of the Lungs, and all Diseases of the Throat and Lungs.” As if this were not outrageous enough, a box side panel claimed, “Permanent Cure Effected.”
A product of B.H. Bacon in Le Roy, NY (the company was founded 1885), it was advertised at least as early as 1895 (“B.H. Bacon” 2014). It was sold in bottles like the one shown here beside a sample bottle. (The former, measuring about 57/8” tall, is embossed, “B.H. BACON Co. // OTTO’S CURE / FOR THE / THROAT & LUNGS // ROCHESTER, N.Y.” The sample bottle, about 213/16” tall, reads only “OTTO’s CURE / FOR THE / THROAT & LUNGS.” Both are of aqua glass and were blown in two-piece molds.)
As the Rochester embossment shows, Bacon moved his company to that city, setting up there by 1895. By 1901, Bacon having died, his company incorporated. However, it was purchased in 1907 by S.H. Wells & Co. of Le Roy (where Otto’s cure had begun) (“B.H. Bacon” 2014; see Nickell 2014).
The year may have been significant: The Bacon company may have decided to cease business rather than face the new restrictions of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, which became effective at the beginning of 1907. According to Fike (2006, 103), S.C. Wells & Co. in Le Roy sold the product as “Otto’s Remedy” (the claim of “cure” was typically disallowed), and it was advertised in 1920–30. Wells had had its own “consumption” medicine but was forced to drop that word from its advertising (Nickell 2014).
B.H. Bacon Company. 2014. Online at https://onbeyondholcombe.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/b-h-bacon-company; accessed February 16, 2017.
Fike, Richard E. 2006. The Bottle Book: A Comprehensive Guide to Historic, Embossed Medicine Bottles. Caldwell, NJ: The Blackburn Press.
Nickell, Joe. 2014. Shiloh’s Consumption Cure. Online at https://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/shilohs_consumption_cure/; accessed February 16, 2017.
“Otto’s Cure.” 2017. Online at https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_1348939; accessed February 16, 2017.