Owbridge’s Lung Tonic, 1939

Owbridge’s Lung Tonic was a cure-all preparation invented in 1874 by Hull pharmacist Walter Owbridge. It was advertised as a cough medicine, a remedy for bronchitis, asthma, consumption (tuberculosis) and all manner of other throat, chest and lung afflictions – “It never fails”, or so it claimed.

It had a secret formula, but an archive analysis shows it to have consisted of chloroform, along with honey and alcohol in the form of ipecacuanha wine. Not recommended for babies under 6 months old, but fine after that, apparently.

(This archive text from 1909 is an interesting read on the subject of this and many other ancient pharmaceuticals – Secret Remedies – What they cost and what they contain)

They were also keen users of promotional merchandise. This small booklet, Owbridge’s Table Companion, is from 1939 and is designed to help schoolchildren with facts and figures, while advertising their wares.

The section on measurements of all manner of things interests me the most. All the befuddling names for specific amounts used just for that one item. I wonder if the schoolchildren were actually expected to know and remember all this information?

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14 Responses

  1. james says:

    just found a bottle in my garden…they made bottles well back then…it survived repeated hitting with a spade, chloroform!

  2. Carol says:

    I found an aqua lung tonic bottle under my outdoor toilet we are having renovated. The bottle still has it’s cork and has liquid in that smells very much like paraffin/white spirits. Very interesting and pungent!

  3. Estelle says:

    Oh how exciting! You know if you ebayed it you could get a lot of interest. People are always finding my blog by googling how they can buy Owbridges Tonic!

  4. Finn stratt says:

    I have an aqua blue bottle, no cork and the letters have worn a bit, still can see the owbridge and hull on the side though

  5. Joel says:

    Ive found a Ow bridge s bottle as well in a house we was ee decorating with the lid! If intrested to buy email me in mint condition

  6. Russell says:

    Does anybody know of a product still available today which is made with similar ingredients to Owbridges ? Is there anything close to it perhaps . My mother tells me it really was very effective . I wish I could try it but would be pleased to find the next best thing made today in an effort to replicate it .

  7. Estelle says:

    Ipecac is still used in a lot of other products as the active ingredient – no chloroform these days though!

  8. Mark Jones says:

    I have a book with an advert for this tonic circa 1899

  9. Dinah says:

    I have just today discovered a bottle with some still in it – it smells fabulous – as well as chlorof it also contains ether…

  1. March 13, 2015

    […] onto their little kitten faces. Chloroform, you say…….hmmm, perhaps a bit of the old Owbridge’s Lung Tonic might do the […]

  2. July 20, 2015

    […] 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 […]

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