Frog Pond Chill & Fever Cure
Chill & Fever Cure
Joseph B. Davenport, Augusta, Georgia
Rectangular Amber Medicine
Provenance: Bob Jochums Collection
Frog Pond Chill & Fever Cure, or just “Frog Pond” as the brand was sometimes called, was a popular medicine first sold in the mid-1880s in Augusta, Georgia. The interesting name makes this bottle a favorite with Cures collectors.
Our rectangular Frog Pond Chill & Fever Cure bottle is uniformly a dark red-tone amber glass and measures 6 ¾ inches tall by 2 ¼ inches wide by 1 ¼ inch deep. The bottle is strongly embossed with lettering that sometimes is not vertical but slants a bit to the left or right. The sans serif typography occurs on an indented beveled panel in two lines embossed from top to bottom ‘FROG POND’ (top line) and ‘CHILL & FEVER CURE’ (bottom line). A second mold variant for this bottle exists with slightly different typography and letter positions (see further below). There is also a third mold variant with a tapered collar and rounded mouth.
The opposite side of the bottle is flat and is where a paper label would have been applied. The thin sides are indented and the collar is a nicely tooled square band. The bottom has ‘440’ embossed on the smooth base suggesting that this may be the slightly later mold version of the bottle. Our museum example came from the Kevin Kelly collection.
B & D’s Frog Pond Chill & Fever Cure advertisements first appeared in 1886 in Orangeburg, South Carolina newspapers with a “Trade Mark” illustration of a casually seated swamp frog with his leg crossed. He appears to be pondering the merits of Frog Pond. This marketing was an attempt to capitalize on the success of the River Swamp Chill and Fever Cure brand with the embossed pictorial alligator. River Swamp Cure was introduced one year earlier in Augusta, Georgia by druggist Louis A. Gardelle.
Frog Pond was initially a product of Beall & Davenport (M. R. Beall and J. B. Davenport), who were the successors of Beall & Co., established in 1866. They were druggists, proprietors, and manufacturers. R. L. Miller and Dean Swamp were selling the medicine. Bealle & Davenport would order amber Frog Pond bottles and sell them for 50 cents. Much later Davenport ordered cobalt blue Frog Pond Chill & Fever Tonic bottles, where “Tonic” was switched out for “Cure.” These are the rarest of the Frog Pond bottles, of which less than a dozen are known.
A larger size Frog Pond bottle, about the same size as the large River Swamp bottle, was found in the Augusta Canal during the early 1970s when the canal was drained to eliminate silt and aquatic vegetation that had accumulated for more than 100 years. This bottle was severely damaged during cleaning. No other example has ever been reported.
J. B. Davenport would take over the Frog Pond brand in 1877 as J. B. Davenport & Co. and Davenport Manufacturing Company. Davenport was the proprietor and manufacturer selling Frog Pond until 1896 or so. Davenport would keep his office with Beall & Davenport at 612 Broad Street opposite the Augusta Hotel.
Joseph Benjamin Davenport was born in 1856 in Athens, Georgia. As a child, his family moved to Augusta, Georgia, where at the age of 14, he began working in the drug business. In 1878 he married Janie (also documented as Jane or Jennie) Stoy, who bore three sons and a daughter.
In 1890, Davenport’s pursuit to register his Davenport’s Frog Pond Chill And Fever Cure was achieved. “Trade-mark” No. 17,438 (a printed label with a statement and declaration) with the United States Patent Office was registered on January 28, 1890. Davenport and his attorney made it clear that other components of the label or bottle could change over time, saying that additional words besides “Frog Pond” may be omitted, and the surroundings and picture of the frog changed or omitted without affecting the character of his trademark. The essential feature was the arbitrary words “Frog Pond,” which were on the label and embossed on the bottle. In his statement to the United States Patent Office, Davenport declared that his trademark had been used in his business continuously since 1886.
Davenport stopped making and advertising Frog Pond up until 1899, when new advertising appeared in Georgia and South Carolina, saying Frog Pond was now being sold by Davenport & Phinizy Co. (John Phinizy), wholesale druggists and selling agents in Augusta. An 1898 Grier’s Almanac advertisement describes the medicine as “The Greatest Chill Cure on Earth!” It was still sold in liquid form for 50 cents a bottle and now in pill form for 50 cents per box,
Davenport’s product was presented as a “peerless tonic” and a remedy for fever, ague, and “malarial affections,” a product that “is peculiar to itself—there is no Medicine like it.” It was proffered to serve as both a preventative and a cure. Ague, also termed swamp fever, the shakes, chill fever, or marsh fever, was characterized by fairly regular recurring intervals of fever, sweating, and chills. The fever was termed intermittent if there was an intermission (a period free from the fever) until its ensuing return. If the fever lessened, “abates in its violence,” as one source described, but there is no intermission, the fever would be termed remittent and would be more malignant than the former.
Davenport & Phinizy added new slogans like “The Original No Cure No Pay,” “Makes pale cheeks rosy,” and “Frog Pond is the ounce of prevention and the pound of cure.” Around this time, new “Frog Pond” bottles were ordered. An elderly Augusta resident recalled that druggists used to give cotton-stuffed paper-mache frogs advertising Frog Pond to children whose parents bought the medicine. So far, none of these frogs has survived.
Newspaper advertising for Davenport’s Frog Pond would stop in 1901. Next, the federal government cracked down on patent medicine purveyors with the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, Davenport was forced to change “Cure” to “Tonic.” Despite that, the firm was still using its “Cure” billheads as late as 1916.
Joseph Davenport and J. B. Davenport & Co. would continue as druggists until Davenport’s retirement in 1929 when J. B. Davenport Jr., and his brother Jouett, took over the 646 Broad Street address. By 1932, there were no other listings.
Joseph Davenport remarried in 1926 at the age of 70. His second wife, Mathilde L. Brown Davenport, was 16 years his junior, and this was her first marriage. Toward the end of 1942, Davenport had been in ill health for several months. He died of arteriosclerotic heart disease at his home in early 1943 at the age of 86. He was survived by his second wife and four children, all living in Augusta.
Primary Image: Frog Pond Fever & Chill bottle imaged on location by Alan DeMaison, FOHBC Virtual Museum Midwest Studio.
Support Image: Bright yellow-amber Frog Pond Fever & Chill example from the Mike Newman collection. Imaged on location by Alan DeMaison, FOHBC Virtual Museum Midwest Studio.
Research: Assistance from Bob Jochums, Berkeley Lake, Georgia.
Support: Reference to Augusta on Glass by Bill Baab, 2020.
Support: Reference to Antique American Medicine Bottles by Matt Knapp, online pdf, 2015.
Support: Reference to Collecting the Cures by Bill Agee, 1969.
Support: Reference to the United States Patent And Trademark Office, Trademark Status & Document Retrieval.
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