A Sovereign Remedy

Cook's 1

Warham Cook (1766-1834) was locally famous as the inventor of Cook’s Salve. From the 1828 advertisement above, you can see that many in the surrounding towns endorsed it. The recipe for a similar product was given below in The House We Live In: How to Keep It in Order, or, The Experience of Seventy Years’ Successful Practice of the Medical Profession, East and West, in Plain English for the People (1869) by Drs. Parker Sedgwick and S.P. Sedgwick:

Cook's Salve recipe

A few notes for the modern reader:

“Venice turpentine” is a resin produced from western larch trees, and has the consistency of honey. It is still used today by artists, as an additive to oil paints, and by farriers as a hoof dressing.

A drachm/dram is an apothecary’s measure for 1/8 of an ounce.

Peleg White’s Salve – apparently the standard against which all other salves were measured – was made of resin, mutton tallow and bees-wax. One writer noted, “It is adhesive, contains no irritating ingredient, and is as cheap as could be desired.”

For further reading, Dr. Chase’s Recipes – several editions of which can be found on Google Books – contained recipes for salves that could be made at home, and generally applied as follows: “In cuts, bruises, abrasions, etc., spread the white salve upon a cloth and apply it as a sticking plaster until well.”

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One thought on “A Sovereign Remedy

  1. I like reading about old remedies. I bet the Pelegrín salve worked well. I wonder what the turpentine did. It used to be in Vicks Vaporub. At Cooperstown’s Farmer’s Museum we warched the pharmacist making digestive pills using ginger and a binder. He rolled the mixture into lengths between his hand and put those between troughed paddles to form little pills. He showed us a fascinating book of recipes for ailments.

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