Messages in a bottle

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There’s a lot you can learn from a bottle.

What’s inside it, obviously, whether or not it’s poisonous, and how much of it there is, but in the case of the collections of Pictou County Historical Bottle Club, each bottle contains an odd little kernel of otherwise un-noted history.

The club’s annual bottle show – held last weekend at the Durham Community Hall – featured a range of ink bottles, from downright pedestrian to outright bourgeois, and milk bottles and caps from a time when every community had its own dairy.

bottle clubThings were decidedly more quirky when it came to the show’s collection of medical bottles, some of which proudly displayed labels such as “Blood Purifier” and “Hair Restorer” (the colour, not the quantity) in the finest of old timely fonts while another announced – with far more discretion – that Eaton’s had a pharmaceutical division.

Fleets of ginger beer bottles – many of which originated from Nova Scotian and even Pictou County based bottlers – were rich with tiny clues as to their date and construction.
The most unusual of all of the bottles – at least to a bottle outsider – was one belonging to Bottle Club and Durham Heritage Society member Margie Parker.

Bearing the image of a holstein cow, Parker’s bottle once held “The Great Tonic Beverage” known as “Beefola” which claimed not only be a “great bracer, enriching & strengthening the blood, muscles, brain & nerves” but also adept at “relieving headache & sleeplessness”.

The bizarre concoction was just one of the many fine beverages from Francis Drake in New Glasgow.

Margie Parker shows a bottle that once contained Francis Drake’s “Beefola” Tonic. (Cameron photo)

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