A small collection of business correspondence from
the firm of Birchall and Owen, retail suppliers of drugs, patent medicines,
medical supplies, and stationers to Springfield, Illinois and wholesalers to the
surrounding region. The firm also printed and distributed almanacs. Price lists
and circulars from some of their suppliers provide an interesting overview of
the popular medicines of mid-19th century America. The correspondence provides a
window on commercial practices of the time, and the emerging emphasis on
marketing and advertisement of products.
The partnership between printer/bookbinder Caleb Birchall (1808-1860) and
druggist Thomas Jefferson Vance Owen (1827-1876) lasted from 1848 to 1855. Their
drugstore in Springfield, Illinois seems to have been a thriving business, with
supplies arriving from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, etc. and
customers scattered over a wide region. The firm dealt not only in drugs and
patent medicines, but also sold various medical and dental supplies, stationery
goods, and printed and distributed an almanac (e.g., "Goudy's Illinois and
Missouri farmers' almanac and repository of useful knowledge, for the year
1849...") In documents not in this collection, there is a record of Abraham
Lincoln being a customer of the firm for office ledgers.
(0.25 linear ft)
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