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2002/53/6 Packaging for proprietary pharmaceutical, 'Fink's Compound Syrup of Hypophosphites Nerve & Brain Tonic', cardboard, maker unknown, place of production unknown, possibly 1955-1975. Click to enlarge.

Packet of 'Fink's Compound Syrup'

Possibly made
  • 1955-1975
Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company Limited was incorporated in 1903 from two separate Australian manufacturing, wholesaling and retail chemist businesses, Pattinson and Co. and Washington H. Soul and Co. The company still exists although, like many successful companies these days, it has diversified and as well as owning nine pharmacies it has interests in shares and investments, coal mining, fruit products, flavours and fragrances, telecommunications and property. In 2002 the company sold its pharmaceutical wholesale and manufacturing operations to another longstanding company API (Australian Pharmaceutical Industries), which has become Australia's second largest pharmaceutical manufacturer. Washington H. Soul Pattinson has retained a 25% stake in API.

The Powerhouse Museum is fortunate to have a large collection relating to the history of pharmacy in Australia including both proprietary medicines and materials used by dispensing chemists. Much of this collection was donated or sponsored by Washington H. Soul Pattinson.

The seven items in this current acquisition were also donated by Washington H. Soul Pattinson and represent some of the proprietary lines sold in chemist shops towards the end of the 20th century. The claims made for 'Finks Compound Syrup of Hypophosphites' are dazzling, for it is apparently a tonic for everything ranging from pulmonary complaints, to wasting diseases, mental depression and nervousness. The one ingredient mentioned on the label, the bitter poison strychnine, was formerly widely used in 'tonics'.

References:
www.whsp.com.au
www.soulpattinson.com.au
http://au.biz.yahoo.com/profiles/s/sol.ax.html
www.api.net.au
28 March 2002

Summary

Object No.

2002/53/6

Object Statement

Packaging for proprietary pharmaceutical, 'Fink's Compound Syrup of Hypophosphites Nerve & Brain Tonic', cardboard, maker unknown, place of production unknown, possibly 1955-1975

Physical Description

Packaging for proprietary pharmaceutical, 'Fink's Compound Syrup of Hypophosphites Nerve & Brain Tonic', cardboard, manufacturer and place of manufacture unknown, [1955-1975].

The buff-coloured cardboard box printed in red, black and green would have contained a bottle of 'Fink's Compound Syrup of Hypophosphites Nerve & Brain Tonic'. Text on the box informs that the preparation is 'valuable in pulmonary complaints, colds, bronchitis, asthma, constipation, debility, weakness and wasting diseases' Moreover it is 'an excellent tonic for those who are run down, or suffering from mental depression, excessive brain work, nervous exhaustion, loss of energy'. It is also 'valuable for weakness, loss of appetite, poorness of blood, nervousness, headaches, worry, neuralgia, irritability'.

The label also informs that 'this mixture contains 0.0042 per cent strychnine, and in conformity with the Poisons Act is labelled 'POISON', but is perfectly harmless if taken according to directions'.

Marks

Text inscribed on front panel of packaging "FINK'S / IMPROVED COMPOUND / SYRUP / OF / HYPOPHOSPHITES / NERVE / AND BRAIN / TONIC / An Excellent Tonic / for those who are run / down, or suffering / from Mental Depres- / sion, Excessive Brain / Work, Nervous Ex- / haustion, Loss of / Energy. / Valuable for Weak- / ness, Loss of Ap- / petite, Poorness of / Blood, Nervousness, / Headaches, Worry, / Neuralgia, Irratibility. / Gives New Life to / the System."
Text inscribed on each side panel "FINK'S / IMPROVED COMPOUND SYRUP OF / HYPOPHOSPHITES / NERVE & BRAIN TONIC / Valuable in Pulmonary Complaints, COLDS, BRONCHITIS, ASTHMA, / CONSUMPTION, DEBILITY, WEAKNESS, and Wasting Diseases. / THIS MIXTURE INCLUDES 0.0042 PER CENT. STRYCHNINE AND IN CONFORMITY WITH THE POISONS ACT / IS LABELLED POISON, BUT IS PERFECTLY HARMLESS IF TAKEN ACCORDING TO DIRECTIONS."
Text inscribed on back panel "FINK'S / COMPUND / SYRUP / OF / HYPOPHOSPHITES / NERVE / AND / BRAIN TONIC".
Text inscribed on top and bottom panels "FINK'S / Compound / Syrup / of / Hypophosphites."

Dimensions

Height

190 mm

Width

77 mm

Depth

45 mm

Production

Possibly made

  • 1955-1975

Notes

Other than that the tonic is 'Finks', there is no clue to the identity of the maker or the place of manufacture on the packaging.

The graphic style of the text and decoration on the packaging is reminiscent of the Victorian era, but this is not a reliable clue to the age of the object. It may be that the manufacturer maintained the same packaging style for decades, or even resurrected it decades after it was first used.

History

Notes

Donated to the Powerhouse Museum from the Washington H. Soul Pattinson & Co. Ltd archival collection in the 1980s.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Washington H Soul Pattinson & Co Ltd, 2002

Acquisition Date

12 May 2002

Cite this Object

Harvard

Packet of 'Fink's Compound Syrup' 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 16 April 2021, <https://ma.as/11453>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/11453 |title=Packet of 'Fink's Compound Syrup' |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=16 April 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}