Vol. 8 No. 11                                                                                                                                                                                                         October 2010
Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club News
Member Club of the F.O.H.B.C.

Great Meeting Last Month!

Did you miss it?

    And who's to say the next meeting won't be great? We really did have a super meeting last month. I have to admit, I personally had a long day at work and I had to drag myself to the meeting . My old easy- chair at home was calling me. With that negative attitude going in, was what I kept thinking about all the way home that evening! I cannot tell you how glad I am that I went! Mr. Tom Deitz's presentation on Kalamazoo medicines was just great!

   As I reported in the last newsletter, the Library is raising the room rent for our meetings from $10.00 per night to $25.00 per night. But to soften the blow, or somewhat justify the rate increase, they reminded us that we have full access to the audio video equipment. Well, frankly that was a very important part of Mr. Deitz's presentation! We saw many old medicine ads, pictures and newspaper articles which really made the presentation very interesting.

    I guess that is what I love about antique bottle collecting . . actually there are several reasons. You can like old bottles because of their color, how they were made, where they were made, or how crude they are, but what I love about a bottle is the story or history behind it. One of the Kalamazoo bottles that Mr. Deitz talked about is one that is familiar with to most of us . . . "Zoa Phora."

     The history behind Zoa Phora is indeed interesting. The product was billed as "The Woman's Friend." We know by reading a label that the product contained as much alcohol as a bottle of whiskey! So really, that isn't the point here. The point is, the man who started marketing this elixir was a Methodist minister who turned physician named Dr. Richard Pengelly. And his wife, Mary E. Pengelly, was the leader of the local Women's's Christian Temperance Union. The W.C.T.U. was the leading organization that pushed for the prohibition of acholic beverages.

    The Kalamazoo Museum newsletter said, "Convinced that alcohol was the arch enemy of home and heaven, the local W.C.T.U. held a weekly Sunday School to "Instill in the minds of children the evil effects of stimulants and narcotics on the human system." Mary Pengelly was not merely a temperance advocate. She opposed not only saloons but gambling houses. As she herself called them, "those gilded palaces of death that captivate our boys and girls." Mary also served on the Kalamazoo Board of Education.

    OK, I kind of like this lady. The issue was clearly that her husband's product contained so much booze! If she understood that, I guess she was a real hypocrite. My thinking is that she understood the difference when a product was for medicinal use or used for merriment.

      Mary sure would be an outcast today! Why if she had her way, we probably would not have our ultra modern Kalamazoo Gospel Mission serving 500 plus nutritious meals each day. Very likely we would have many people being deprived of the fun of playing Lotto and they would have to waste money on things like shoes for their kid's feet!

      Mary successfully encouraged the Michigan Senate to pass legislation prohibiting minors from smoking. To protect women's virtue, Pengelly lobbied the state legislature against prostitution. She went into saloons to rescue young women from alcohol's "deadly grasp and send them home to anxious mothers." With her W.C.T.U. co workers, she visited prisons throughout the state to bring the Bible and good influence.

     Mary was a strong advocate for women's rights and she shocked public officials by casting an "illegal" vote regarding a tax assessment for the laying of sidewalks on her street! Where are all the Mary Pengelly's today? Sadly we watch Kalamazoo being taken over by the sickness against which she tried to stand.

     What was cool to me was to hear that Mr. Deitz lives in the Pengelly home which still stands in the Historic Stuart Neighborhood on Elm Street in Kalamazoo! Tom and his wife Sharon are restoring the home! Mr. Deitz's program was amazing! It is mine-boggling the way doctors and medicine were marketed in Kalamazoo! Even the downtown hotels marketed beneficial properties to their baths when they got hooked up with running hot water!

     I still am taken back by all of the neat stuff that Mr. Dietz had in his slide presentation! The claims that were made to the public were amazing. If you lived in Kalamazoo and you had an ailment there was hope for you somewhere in town! And who better to cheat than some poor sick person!

    As a patient of the Kalamazoo Cancer Center, I am so glad they can make a real difference in someone's life without being yet another ongoing scam! I have to tell you, I am still reminded of the old patent medicine days when I see on their sign "Blood Disorders." One thing that hasn't changed, and never will, is that all things go according to God's plan! You don't have to like it, and the only intelligent thing to do is accept it!

    After the meeting a hand full of us went over to Bimbo's Pizza for some great pizza! What can I say other than we had three pizzas and they were all great . . . as usual! There is a pizza place in Iron River, MI, in the western U.P., called Riverside Bar and Pizzeria, and they have they have the only pizza that comes close to Bimbo's! I was talking to one of the Bimbo's owners a few years back and it sounds like they are both shoot-offs from the same original pizza joint somewhere in Wisconsin! Small world, isn't it!

     Chuck refers to the pizza that he likes to order as the Heart Attack or Heart Failure . . . something like that. It has double cheese and I think it has three kinds of meat . . . I think one is bacon! It was really good! I think of it every time I am in the local market near the frozen pizzas and I see the big sign that reads, "What would you like on your Tombstone?"

     It was a fun evening and I hope we can afford to do it again real soon!

Dr. Parker and Professor Scooter's Patent Medicine Show!

        Before I move on I want to mention that much of Mr. Dietz's program covered many of the businesses related to medicine bottles that the club members are familiar with. That's a good thing! It made it all so much more interesting! So, yes we learned a lot! I even think Mr. Deitz learned a few things and Chuck and Scott even picked up a speaking engagement! They will be giving a talk on Early Kalamazoo and National Medicines at the Portage Library on October 11 at 7:00pm for the Kalamazoo County Historical Society. The program is open to all! All rotten eggs and tomatoes will be checked at the door! I am certain this will be a great show!


Chuck and Scott were out digging recently and they did very well! Chuck reports that they found:

1. 2- pepper sauce bottles

2. 1- stoneware master-ink,

3. 1- boat ink

4. 1- barrel ink

5. 1- acid etched apothecary

6. 2- extract bottles

7. 1- Tetlow's Purfumery

8. 1- 7 Sister's Hair Restorer

9. 1- Randall's Circassian Cream Wash

       On another dig Chuck and Scott dug a privy where they found 2 aqua- and 2 amber-embossed strap-sided whiskey flasks from Kalamazoo! I'm sorry to report that they were all broken . . . ouch!

       That first dig is the kind that keeps you going! What a dig! The "Seven Sutherland Sister's Hair Grower" was a product offered by a pitchman in the late 1800's who was the girl's father. This was a product with quite a story behind it. When I was first bitten by the bottle bug, I shelled out some hard-earned cash for a bunch of neat antique bottles from Jack Short. As Jack was showing me the bottles, he told me some short stories behind some of them. The Seven Sister's Hair Restorer was one of those products. I was amazed at the story behind the bottle!

      The bottle for Seven Sisters will never be a rare bottle because the product was such a great seller! The reason for its success was all about the marketing! The proof behind the product's value was the seven sisters themselves! Each one had very long, thick, beautiful hair. In some cases their hair was as much as 7 feet long! The world would see and hear from the girls as they sang their way across the country. The seven girls and one brother lost their mother in the late 1860's when the youngest was only six. They florished because their father had a gift for drawing a crowd!

     The product was promoted at traveling shows and at one point they were featured performers with the Barnum and Bailey Circus. However the sisters were never considered a side show, they were very respected and admired. They were billed as the "Seven Wonders of the World! Seven Refined and Educated Ladies! Seven Models of Beauty and Womenly Grace! Seven Sisters, all of One Family! Patronized by the Elite, Praised by the Press! Like Barnum, the Sutherlands shied away from identifying themselves as "circus" people; instead they were mystical show ladies, what Barnum called "the seven wonders, the strongest drawing card on earth," promising dignified entertainments and demanding intimate, intelligent interactions with their audiences. They were not reviled, feared, cursed or spat upon like the common circus freaks of the day.

    And get this, ladies and gentlemen, the show was free! So step right up! Of course the product sold like firewater!

    John Hodge was very much a part of the Seven Sister's success. He was the owner of Merchant's Gargling Oil and he was a giant in the area of pharmaceutical manufacturing and he already had his foot-in- the-door of drug stores and general stores all across the northeast and midwest.

Here is an ad that I found for Zoa Phora from about 1900.

Hope and Health

for All Women!

Zoa Phora Will Cure and Make You a Well Woman!


Zoa Phora cures permanently and perfectly all diseases, weaknesses and irregularities of the sex, misplacement, suppressed and painful periods, flooding, leucorrhea, kidney, bladder and liver troubles, makes childbirth easy and regulates the change of life. For the critical period of transition from maidenhood to womanhood it is a matchless remedy. All women unite in praising it and all who have used it rejoice in perfect health.

Mrs. Paul Burns, Parshallville, Mich., writes:

"I want all my friends to know the great good Zoa Phora has done for me. I suffered for months with nervous prostration, sick headache and kidney and bladder trouble. After holding consultation, four doctors said I would not live without an operation, and I was too weak to have one. Bunches formed in my bowels and I became so sore that I lost use of my limbs. The doctor called the bunches tumors. He said that I also had a floating kidney and would not be any better until I had it sewed in place. After using one bottle of Zoa Phora I could stand on my feet and after taking three bottles I could walk around the room, and after the fourth bottle I was able to walk out-of-doors!"

Write the Zoa Phora Co., Kalamazoo Michigan for a free trial bottle and a copy of their illustrated medical book, "Dr. Pengelly's Advice to women." The doctor will gladly give free special advice when needed. Zoa Phora is for sale at $1.00 a bottle by L.L.Wood & Company.

    This is a antique printing plate from the late 1800's for Zoa Phora. This would have been used for a newspaper ad.  This was located by a friend of mine using a metal detector!