M930.50.1.287 | Commercial label of Lyman's Genuine Quinine Wine

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Commercial label of Lyman's Genuine Quinine Wine
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
1850-1885, 19th century
Ink on paper on supporting paper - Wood engraving
6.9 x 7.3 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Miscellaneous (671) , Print (10661)
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Keys to History

Among the remedies marketed to families or prescribed by doctors in Canada, wine was very popular. Its invigorating properties were believed to enrich the blood, fortify bodily functions, combat fever and facilitate menstruation.

Quinine wines, such as Vin Mariani or the one produced by the Trappist monks in Oka, were highly valued by Canadians. These were not beverages but medicinal products, enhanced with stimulants, emetics or narcotics, depending on the desired effect.

Some highly alcoholic (18º to 30°) wines containing extracts of cocaine were served as aperitifs. One very popular drink was laudanum, a wine-based tincture of opium flavoured with cinnamon or cloves.

Quinine wine taken hot with honey was widely used to treat colds and flus and reduce fever. But as doctors cautioned, "in small does, it fortifies; in large doses, it stupefies."

D. Goulet, F. Hudon and O. Keel, Histoire de l'Hôpital Notre-Dame de Montréal 1880-1980 (Montreal: Éditions VLB, "Études québécoises" series 1993), p. 223.

Traité élémentaire de matière médicale et guide pratique des soeurs de charité de l'Asile de la Providence (Montreal: Imprimerie de la Providence, 1890), p. 749.

  • What

    Commercial label for a bottle of quinine wine; engraving by John Henry Walker. The illustration implies that mothers can give this wine to their children.

  • Where

    The S. J. Lyman company was located at 382-386 St. Paul Street in Montreal for over a century. It expanded its business to the rest of Canada and, by 1947, had offices in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

  • When

    Founded in 1800, this company was a major player in the Montreal pharmaceutical industry throughout the 19th century. It continued to operate until the 1950s.

  • Who

    In the 19th century, S. J. Lyman developed nearly 75 medicinal products. It was also a large distributor of patent remedies with an impressive catalogue of local and imported products.