Hidden in Plain Sight:
The Material World of Early Springfield


Dr. Jayne’s carminative balsam bottle

c. 1830-1850
Recovered from Edwards Place privy
Collection of the Illinois State Museum

Dr. Jayne was a Philadelphia-based purveyor of patent medicines. The "carminative balsam" advertised that it purified the blood and thus provided relief from "cholera infantum, dysentery, cholic dyspepsia, and all diseases proceeding from a disordered condition of the stomach, liver, intenstine, and nerves.

Most citizens of antebellum Springfield regularly turned to “patent” medicines to relieve their occasional maladies. These were proprietary formulas manufactured on the East Coast and marketed nationally through newspaper and magazine ads. Although they made grandiose claims about their restorative properties, these “medicines” were largely ineffectual and occasionally dangerous. Ingredients could include anything from alcohol to opium to cocaine to mercury.