Manuscripts Collection

Toiletine Company, 1885-1972

toiletine company
Accession 2170

The Toiletine Company records, 1885-1972 (bulk 1892-1930),  primarily consist of correspondence and reports, trade literature and handbills. The company’s founder, Benjamin Franklin Miner, began manufacturing an anti-inflammatory agent called "Toiletine" in 1890.

This concoction was used internally and externally for any areas of the body: as a hand and body lotion, aftershave, and a gargle for "catarrh" (inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose and throat). The company also manufactured numerous flavorings, extracts and toilet preparations.

Although the records are fragmentary, it provides documents of the outrageous claims and hyperbolic testimonials used in patent medicine advertising.

Lanman & Kemp Company, 1840-1925

Lanman & Kemp Company
Accession 2448

The Lanman & Kemp Company bought and sold drugs internationally. The company traded in opiates, medical and culinary herbs, chemicals, and medical apparatus including surgical, dental and gynecological tools. In addition to engaging in the wholesale drug trade, they manufactured their own proprietary medicines.

Their most famous product was "Florida Water." Although not used in the medicinal sense, this concoction was used as an all-purpose perfume and cologne water.

Lanman & Kemp also corresponded with merchants in Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean who supplied the firm with large quantities of opium to be used in patent medicines.

Ferment Company of New York, 1907-1916

The Ferment Company of New York was formed sometime before 1906 for the purpose of manufacturing and distributing a single patent medicine based on the theories of biologist Elie Metchnikoff of the Pasteur Institute.

Metchnikoff's research led to his theory that good health can be had through proper hygiene and diet. He focused on the bacteria in the lower digestive tract. He believed that lactic-acid bacilli, as in yogurt, would prevent intestinal disease.

The Ferment Company of New York was primarily the creation of entrepreneurs and was the successor to an earlier company, the Lacto-Bacilline Company of Maine. A French company endorsed by Metchnikoff, La Societe Le Ferment, was formed to market a product corresponding to his theories. It was a sour-milked product, marketed under the name Bacillac, that could be taken as a food supplement or mixed with water.

The records consist of a single volume of minutes taken from August 13, 1907 to January 1, 1916. Accession 2063

The collections described below are open for research at the Hagley Library. For more information contact or 302-658-2400, ext 330.