Saturday, October 11, 2014

Garland's Cough Drops - Revisited

Milton Henry Garland – Garland’s Cough Drops

The first advertisement for the Garland’s Cough Drop product that I have found is in the Sacramento Daily Union in December of 1866. Milton Henry Garland advertises that he is a Wholesale Confectioner and is the manufacturer of Garland’s Renowned Cough Drops. Garland is located at 828 Market Street in San Francisco California. In this 1866 advertisement he states his cough drops “are put up in small tin boxes, two dozen in a case so they can be sent to any part of the world in good order”. Garland uses this early advertisement until sometime in late 1871 or early 1872 when he starts headlining the Cough Drops in his advertisements.

By 1872 Garland advertises his cough drop product is Trade Marked, Copyrighted and Secured and is a certain relief for asthma, whooping cough and consumption, among other ailments.  Garland is manufacturing the cough drops and selling them wholesale and retail while in Sacramento R.H. McDonald & Company are the General Agents for the Garland Cough Drop product. I have seen other advertisements for the Garland product with E.F Sandford, an Oakland California druggist, offering the Garland’s Cough drops for sale.

Sometime in 1872 or early 1873 Garland issues a $1000 challenge to whoever publicly accused Garland’s Couch Drops as being poisonous. Garland “desires the public to know that his confectionaries and candies are perfectly pure and harmless, and he will give any chemist or any other person who can discover Terra Alba or any other poisonous substance, either in the composition or coloring matter, in any of the candies or confectionary manufactured by him”

It is interesting that someone would accuse Garland of using Terra Alba in the production of his cough drops. Terra Alba is finely pulverized gypsum used in making paper and paints and as a nutrient for growing yeast.  Prolonged or repeated breathing of this material may result in chronic bronchitis (inflammation of the airways of the lungs). Symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath, the exact symptoms that Garland claimed his cough drops cured. The “someone’ who accused Garland of using this substance in his products was more than likely a competitor of his.

After the $1000 challenge advertisement I cannot find any more information on Garland or his products. It appears that right around late 1872 or early 1873 some set of circumstances removes Garland from public exposure. Garland either goes out of business, leaves San Francisco or who knows what might have happened.
Pratt's Abolition Oil and the Garland's Cough Drops

The Garland Cough Drop’s bottle is around 7 inches tall with a double collar applied top and has an unusual tombstone shape with a tombstone inset panel with vertical embossing:  GARLAND’S / COUGH DROPS. The bottle comes in shades of western aqua and is considered very rare in Wilson’s book 19th Century Medicine in Glass. Tim Higgins’s, in his book, Early Medicine and Apothecary Bottles of the Old West considers the Garland’s as extremely rare.

It is my contention that as rare as the Garland bottle is, it was probably only manufactured in the late 1872 early 1873 period, and that the accusations that Garland was using poisonous materials to manufacture the product put an end to the Garland’s Cough Drops as a marketable product.


  1. These ARE extremely rare. I've only seen 5 or 6 over the years. I'll add that they come with 3 different styles ot tops. I've seen one example with a square collared top with no lower ring.
    This year, I was very fortunate to finally dig my first intact example (after having gone back to and dug in the same yard 4 times over the past 20 years, searching for the older pit !), and it has a sharp flanged lower collar versus the rounded lower ring seen in the photo above.

  2. They may be rare but I've had the chance to buy and/or own 3 examples in the past 2 years. So I think there's probably more like a dozen or more floating around in collections. Still rarer than a bag of uncooked steaks though!