S S S
“Hey, I’ve got Syphilis. Do you have any medicine for me?”
Early Syphilis treatment. Color enhanced illustration of the use of the tobacco plant as a treatment for syphilis, 1558. – New York Public Library
“Sure, try some Swift’s Syphilitic Specific”
SWIFT’S SYPHILITIC SPECIFIC sitting on right
“Thanks, just what I need”
I like it when Dr. Charles Aprill (New Orleans) stirs things up with a post of some of his great bottles. In this case, surprise, two blue examples (pictured below) of SWIFT’S SYPHILITIC SPECIFIC. This is an American bottle, ca. 1860-1870, usually around 8 1/2″ tall, in deep cobalt blue. Strap sided and in a tombstone shape, it comes with an applied mouth and has a smooth base.
Before the Food and Drug Act, there were cures for everything from Cancer to Diabetes, or so they led one to believe. Apparently SSS was a cure for sexually transmitted diseases.
SWIFT’S SYPHILITIC SPECIFIC in natural light. The dark one is 8 1/2″ tall. The lighter one has a longer neck, 9″ tall. Close inspection suggests these two bottles were from the same mold. Fairly dramatic difference in the blue – c.a. (Charles Aprill)
SWIFT’S SYPHILITIC SPECIFIC in natural habitat. Different lip finishes. Bases bear a slightly eccentric “thumb” sized impression, ? a pontil mark. Who knows more about these bottles and this product? c.a.
Imagine this conversation, Customer, “Hey I’ve got Syphilis. Do you have any medicine for me?” Druggist, “Sure try some SWIFT’S SYPHILITIC SPECIFIC”. Customer: “Thanks, just what I need”. c.a.
SWIFT’S SYPHILITIC SPECIFIC. There’s variety in color and mouth finish. These are likely from the same mold, but: the rolled lip variant has longer neck by 1/2 inch. I’d like to have more. Can’t tell when a friend might need some. c.a.
Excerpt from For God, Country, and Coca-Cola, By Mark Pendergrast
Part of a “sympton blank” sent out in November 1916 , by the S.S.S. concern to a person who wanted medical advice in the treatment of syphilis.