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Well-Known Member
Aug 10, 2019
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Massachusetts, USA
I recently did some digging on Salva-Cea jars for someone in town, I thought I'd share my findings here. The jar in question is a stout cobalt jar with the words SALVA-CEA and THE BRANDRETH CO. N.Y. embossed on it. This post includes some minor guesswork about the fate of the Brandreth Co. If anyone has info stating otherwise I would love to hear it. Here is a link to the jar: LINK. I'm not sure if the link will work for everyone, apologies in advance.

The Smithsonian has a Salva-Cea jar and its packaging in one of their archived collections. Online it has a picture and description. The packaging tells us that Salva-Cea was a topical salve for pain relief and some of its applications could be for sunburn, insect bite, or minor cuts and burns. It even lists the ingredients: oil of cajeput, camphor, soap liniment, stronger ammonia water, chloroform, oil of turpentine, and oil of white thyme. The catch is that this particular Salva-Cea was produced by E. Fougera & Company, not the Brandreth Co. as stated on your jar. But I think I can link the two.

E. Fougera & Company was founded in 1849 in Long Island, New York. It began producing many drugs such as Mustard Plasters that allegedly helped alleviate inflammation from bronchitis or asthma. Around the same time, a man named Benjamin Brandreth was starting his own pharmaceutical company in Ossining, New York, having emigrated to the US to hopefully find a larger market for his product, a pill-form cathartic (similar to a laxative). Brandreth's early adoption of mass-advertising made him "the nation's largest proprietary advertiser." His pills became so popular that "for fifty years Brandreth's name was a household word in the United States," even landing his pills by name in the works of Edgar Allen Poe, P.T. Barnum, and Herman Melville (in Moby Dick, no less).

Searching for the Brandreth Co. online brings up little. Google Books has entries for various advertising papers such as catalogs and annual calendars, but with no available previews, it lends the idea that not much has survived from Brandreth's reign. On the other hand, not only did E. Fougera & Company persist, they are still around today having been sold as recently as 2011 to Sandoz, Inc, a big-name pharmaceutical company.

Just as E. Fougera has been bought and sold a number of times throughout the company's history, I believe that Brandreth or his descendants sold the company or at the very least, the rights to Salva-Cea to E. Fougera who continued to produce it for a number of years. I cannot prove that, but seeing as time has gone on, smaller companies have been absorbed by bigger brands, a trend we see is ongoing even now. Helping this is how both brands occupied the same state of New York and were around at the same time producing similar products. I think that even after Brandreth's fame and fortune, E. Fougera just came out on top.

All this being said, this makes your jar very interesting as it likely predates the object in the Smithsonian collection. I am no expert, but I do love old trash. Hope this was helpful or interesting!

For further reading:
E. Fougera & Company bio:
Benjamin Brandreth:
Google Books results:

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