Accordingto the Harvard University Library information on working women of 1800 to 1930, Lydia E. Pinkham was one of the most successful American businesswomen of the 19th century. She worked as a midwife, nurse and school teacher. After her marriage to Isaac Pinkham she founded the Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company in order to market a herbal medicine she had developed to treat the medical problems of her female friends and family members.
Lydia Estes Pinkham (1819–1883)
Lydia E. Pinkham and her Great Granddaughter,
Health Hints, No. 136, 1926, Advertising records: Pinkham pamphlets, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute.
“The Lydia Pinkham Company was immensely successful. By the time of Pinkham's death in 1883, her famous Vegetable Compound was grossing $300,000 annually, and in 1925 annual profits peaked at $3.8 million.”
Her products are still available for sale in pill and liquid form. Lydia Pinkham changed the lives of thousands of American women by drawing attention to serious female medical issues that were being neglected by mainstream medicine.
Lydia’s compound contained black cohosh, life root, unicorn root, pleurisy root, fenugreek seed, and a substantial amount of alcohol which probably contributed to the success of her product.
During a recent visit to Custer, Idaho a ghost town in the center of the state, I noticed a collection of antique bottles in the window of the gift shop. The bottles were among items found in the abandoned homesteads left behind when the gold rush was over.
One of the bottles bore the embossed label of Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound. I took several reference photos and used them to paint a watercolor of the window display.
(For sale at my Etsy Shop along with many other paintings)