The Rare Books & Manuscripts Section has recently acquired a wooden patent medicine display case manufactured in 1901 (or soon thereafter) for the Penn Drug Co., Chicago, Ill., for the purpose of displaying the firm’s full line of over-the-counter specifics. Measuring 25 x 40 x 26 cm., the glass fronted case displays thirty-six boxes of remedies in three cascading tiers. Each box contains a glass bottle, often a full complement of pills, and printed directions for their use.
Dr. Calvin Crane’s Quaker Remedies are supposed to derive from formulae prepared by Calvin Crane, a Quaker physician and ancestor of Edward M. Crane, one of the firm’s founding partners. Dr. Crane’s remedies were intended to cure a wide range of bodily disorders, from liver disease to piles, from croup to bronchitis, from nervous debility to gonorrhoea.
The Penn Drug Co. was incorporated late in 1900 by Edward M. Crane, general manager of the Thompson Carriage Co., Oshkosh, WI, and Charles A. Wakeman, a druggist in Oshkosh. The firm was headquartered in Chicago and remained in business into the 1920s. This particular display case appears to have belonged to James G. Hughes, a druggist in Ashland, Vt.