Medicine bottle

Object Number: 
1937.1693
Date: 
1840-1860
Medium: 
Glass
Dimensions: 
Overall: 6 1/2 x 2 1/4 x 1 1/4 in. ( 16.5 x 5.7 x 3.2 cm )
Marks: 
pressed: on front of bottle: "TRICOPHEROUS/FOR THE SKIN/AND HAIR" pressed: on obverse: "DIRECTIONS/IN/PAMPHLET" pressed: on side: "BARRY'S" pressed: on other side: "NEW YORK"
Description: 
Glass bottle with green tint, blown in a two-part mold, with down-tooled lip, roughly cylindrical neck, rounded shoulder, rectangular body with flat chamfers and recessed panel, inscription on front of bottle "BARRY'S TRICOPHEROUS FOR THE SKIN AND HAIR" and on obverse "DIRECTIONS IN THE PAMPHLET"; diagonal mold line and pontil mark on base.
Gallery Label: 
Counted among the assorted hair tonics shipped aboard the SS Republic from New York to New Orleans were eighty-three bottles of Barry’s "Tricopherous for The Skin and Hair." The self-declared “Professor,” Alexander C. Barry, was a New York wigmaker. Barry claimed that his father established the formula for the popular hair product in 1801. The tonic was first sold in the United States around 1842. Advertisements for Barry’s hair preparation included popular trade cards, typically featuring a beautiful woman with luxurious, long-flowing hair. The ads claimed the product was “guaranteed to restore the hair to bald heads and to make it grow thick, long and soft.” Barry’s tonic was an alcohol-based formula combined with castor oil and other fragrant oils. The product’s most active ingredient was its one-percent tincture of cantharides. Cantharides came from the dried, crushed bodies of the blister beetle or Spanish fly. The theory was that this substance would stimulate blood supply to the scalp, which in turn would promote hair-follicle growth. Cantharidin is today recognized as a toxic substance that can cause severe gastrointestinal disturbances if ingested, sometimes leading to convulsions, coma, and possible death. This object was once part of the folk art collection of Elie Nadelman (1882-1946), the avant-garde sculptor. From 1924 to 1934, Nadelman's collection was displayed in his Museum of Folk Arts, located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. The Historical Society purchased Nadelman's entire collection in 1937.
Credit Line: 
Purchased from Elie Nadelman
Provenance: 
The Folk Art Collection of Elie Nadelman
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group