Wampole’s Creo-Terpin Compound

Good for bird flu.  Swine flu, not so much

Postcard Friendship Friday (PFF)This handy-dandy little piece of advertising ephemera dates from the 1930s — it’s actually an ink blotter, to mop up the excess ink from those pesky fountain pens.  The card that you see is mounted to a piece of purple paper that feels both rough and absorbent — lots of microscopic divots to really soak up the ink.

Wampole’s Creo-Terpin was produced from about the turn of the (20th) century until at least the 1940s; there are other World War II-era cards featuring guides to military decorations rather than common birds.  As far as the bird cards, this is just one of a series.  The cards allowed the local distributor to stamp their own information on them as well.

The “Creo” in Creo-Terpin seems to come from wood creosote, a bush that we know today has even more medicinal value than Wampole thought; it’s good for upset stomach, arthritis, anemia, and is even an anti-microbial.  (One entry in the Canadian Journal of Medicine and Surgery from 1908 tells physicians how to increase the creosote dosage.)  The “Terpin”, on the other hand, probably refers to terpin hydrate, which was usually sold in a solution with codeine to relieve bronchitis.  Terpin hydrate was easy to make, a synthetic subsititute for oil of turpentine, which is an ingrediant in Vicks Vapo-Rub, and makes you feel better.  Unfortunately, the synthetic has never been proven effective (it was probably the codeine that made you feel better), and the FDA banned it about 15 years ago in the US.

When I was growing up, my grandmother had one of these cards on her desk.  I sure wish I had that one, but it’s doubtless been lost to the ages.  But one good thing in which to lose yourself is all the other blogs celebrating this week’s Postcard Friendship Friday.

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12 Responses

  1. postcardy says:

    I never heard of Creo-Turpin but my mother used to use Vicks Vapor Rub.

  2. Terry says:

    This was an awesome post.
    Thank you so very much for sharing all the great information.
    Happy PFF to you.
    Have a fabulous rest of the week.
    Happy Trails

  3. Stephanie says:

    Well, somehow I posted my comment to the wrong entry. Check out the troll card for what I said about your PFF entry. Love it!

  4. Beth says:

    Wonderful postcard! WOW! I LOVE this postcard! Happy PFF!

  5. Hi Chris,

    Cool card! When I first went to school in the late 1960’s I had to write with ink too and I remember the blotter cards, but not as beautiful as this one. Ours were just green.

    Greetings from Amsterdam!

  6. Sreisaat says:

    Awesome card!
    I have never seen anything like that before and I think I need one of those when I write in postcards.
    Have a great weekend :)

  7. Sheila says:

    People SWALLOWED that stuff???

    At first I thought the medicine would make you sing sweetly like a bird, but reading more closely, I see I the birds weren’t significant.

  8. debby says:

    This is very cool. Love the birds and so much info.

  9. Marie says:

    This might have also been a cure for the dreaded terrapin turtle flu:) Bravo Chris!

  10. Mary says:

    This postcard brings back memories. Creo Turpin was awful to the tastebuds, but excellent for colds and coughs. One dose had the ability to kill a cold bug dead in its tracks. Wish this product was still available.

  11. Mary has given her age away but was correct about creoturpin. The stuff on your breath was enough to wilt trees. I loved it and leave to the FDA to screw things up once again

  12. Frances Juanita Smith says:

    When we had a cold this was our go to medicine. Hated it but it broughy back memories. We had it in the 50s.

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