Tincture of Aloe from 1927

aloe plant

The Medicine

aloeKnown as the “plant of immortality” in early Egypt, aloe was often a funeral gift given to pharaohs over 6000 years ago.  The plant produces two substances that are still used in medicines today.  The first is a clear gel that is used topically for skin conditions such as burns, psoriasis, and frostbite.  The second is a yellow latex that is primarily used as a laxative.  The laxatives were removed from U.S. markets by the FDA in 2002 due to a lack of safety data.

“Tincture” of aloe means that the plant material is dissolved in alcohol.  And according to Helen H., who wrote to the Newport News Daily Press in 1929, tincture of aloe can help you overcome your nervous nail biting habit.  News clip about tincture of aloe


The Bottle

Whitall Tatum

Tincture of aloe bottle, 1927The bottle I have was manufactured in 1927 by Whitall Tatum and Co. and used by Sharp & Dohme Manufacturing.  A logo table on the SHA’s website says that the inverted triangle logo with the WT was used between 1924 and 1938, and from their more detailed paper on Whitall Tatum, the number “27” below the logo signifies the year 1927.

Whitall Tatum inverted triangle logo, 1927

Sharp & Dohme

Sharp & Dohme label, Baltimore, 1927Unfortunately, the label is torn, but it belongs to Sharp & Dohme, manufacturing chemists who were based in Baltimore, MD.  The company was established in 1860 by brothers Louis and Charles Dohme and Louis’s mentor Alpheus Sharp.  In 1953, they merged with Merck & Co.,  one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in existence today.  The building pictured on the label was their manufacturing plant in Baltimore at the time the bottle was produced.

Searching through newspapers from the 1920’s, I could not find much information on Sharp & Dohme except that they had an active bowling team, and placed some amusing (sexist) job ads that would definitely not go over well today.  It’s interesting to see what was acceptable almost 100 years ago!  These ads are from the Baltimore Sun in the early 1920’s.

Sharp & Dohme job ad from 1920Sharp & Dohme job ad from 1923  Sharp & Dohme job ad from 1920Sharp & Dohme job ad from 1920