More Owbridge’s Lung Tonic

Yorkshire Telegraph, 2nd February 1905

Yorkshire Telegraph, 2nd February 1905

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this blog (well, there’s a ton of things I’ve learned, in fact, everyday is a school day here) it’s that there’s an awful lot of people still interested in Owbridge’s Lung Tonic. My last post on the subject here is one of my most popular pages. It’s really a rare day that there’s no hits on that post, which I wasn’t anticipating at all. As far as I was concerned, it was one of those pharmaceuticals lodged firmly in the past, like the mercury-containing Blue Pills of another post.

But Owbridge’s was a medicine that people obviously remember taking and are googling nostalgically for. And so I checked when it last was available, and I was surprised that production only ended in 1971 – no wonder so many people know of it still.

One thing I have to say – the British Medical Association’s “Secret Remedies” book of 1909 that I linked to in my previous post states that an analysis of Owbridge’s shows the medicine to contain ipecacuanha wine, honey and, alarmingly, a quantity of chloroform. But the formula did change again over the years and so the version that people had in the 1960s was (presumably) not the same as that analysed in 1909. Having said that, I haven’t found anything to state what exactly the last incarnation consisted of.

Still, for those Owbridge’s fans still out there (although it is apparently a love-hate kind of memory, I gather), here’s some more vintage adverts I’ve found.

Owbridge’s Lung Tonic. Owbridge’s Lung Tonic. Owbridge’s Lung Tonic.

The Northern Evening Mail, 1882

The Northern Evening Mail, 1882

It sounds like there was some dispute going on here between The Pharmaceutical Society and patent medicines. “No one has the right to attach poison labels” to Owbridge’s, it says. That wouldn’t have helped business.

The Aberdeen Journal, 14th January 1893

The Aberdeen Journal, 14th January 1893

A double page advert celebrating the “thirty-third season” of Owbridge’s.

The Yorkshire Post, 1908

The Yorkshire Post, 1908

“Please remember we can produce originals of all these letters”:

The Yorkshire Evening Post, 1910

The Yorkshire Evening Post, 1910

This 1914 typeface reminds me of the opening credits of a black and white “Carry On” film.

Daily Mirror, 2nd November 1914

Daily Mirror, 2nd November 1914

Emphasizing the honey in this advert (rather than the chloroform):

Yorkshire Evening Post, 19th January 1926

Yorkshire Evening Post, 19th January 1926

Finally, a celebration of the 80th anniversary in 1954. It was around for nearly 100 years, just missing the centenary in 1974.

The Luton News, 1954

The Luton News, 1954

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4 Responses

  1. My Grand father was a friend of Owbridge and as a commercial traveler sold the lung tonic as his living!

    Edward Smith lived in Newcastle and we have a photograph of them together on the river near Guysance Bridge!

    Can you tell me where the original labels are as a designer I am interested in the design and advertising!

    Also the family connections!!

    Regards. Nicholas Birchall

  2. Estelle says:

    How fantastic, Nicholas, thanks so much for your comment. Any chance of posting the photo? I don’t have any labels myself, I found all these in old newspapers, mainly from the British Newspaper Archive. There’s so much stuff on there!

  3. Anne Lancaster says:

    Thank you so much for writing this stuff up! Walter Owbridge was my great great great grandfather.

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