Connell’s Brahminical Moonplant East Indian Remedies Trade Mark (And Stars Around Two Feet)
Connell’s Brahminical Moonplant
East Indian Remedies
(Stars Around Two Feet)
John Moore Connell, San Francisco, California
Amber Oval Medicine
Provenance: Lou Pellegrini Collection
The first newspaper advertisement for Connell’s Brahminical Moonplant East Indian Remedies was in San Francisco in July 1873 when J. M. Connell advertised his medicine using his mysterious and celestial trademark of two footprints surrounded by stars. This interesting motif is embossed on his striking oval bottles. The Commissioners of Patents’ Journal for July 14, 1874, recorded No. 1825, John Moore Connell, of San Francisco, Cal. for “Special Medicines,” “Brahminical Moon Plant and the representation of two human feet.” Brahminical means cultural and social elite.
J. M. Connell spent his early years in the Indian subcontinent, where he reported, “I was for nine years professionally engaged in the medical departments of the East Indian Company’s service.” He said he gained his knowledge from the priestly Brahmin, whose cures were made using formulas recorded in their sacred books, handed down from age to age unchanged. He adapted these recipes and used his remedies on “the people of foreign countries where I have resided, in the form now used, and with wonderful success.” This period resulted in Connell’s Moonplant medicine which he wove a story of radical mysticism with his knowledge of Buddhism.
Illustrative adaptations of Connell’s East Indian Brahminical Moonplant Remedies trademark depict human feet hovering over a setting sun with support copy reading “Footprints Entrance at Haimagaree.” Clouds surround the graphics with surprinted listings of Moonplant cures for sore throat, dyspepsia, constipation, catarrh, womb derangements, sympathetic pains, diarrhea, gout, rheumatism, neuralgia, ague and liver affections. Many testimonials typically accompanied Connell’s advertising to support his grand Moonplant claims.
John Moore Connell
John Moore Connell was born in Ireland in 1821 and practiced medicine in Australia. After Connell ended up in a legal battle over a trademark dispute centered around the use of an elephant, he moved to San Francisco in 1872, where he fully developed and became the proprietor of his Moonplant medicine. His first agent in San Francisco was the Murphy Bros., which didn’t last very long. Connell’s second agent was John F. Snow, Esq., a cleaner and dyer of gloves and other fine leather goods located at No. 25 Post Street. Snow eventually entered the patent medicine business with his “Victory,” a hair coloring product.
See John F. Snow’s Victory bottle in the Utility Gallery (coming soon)
There are two different variants of Connell’s Moonplant bottle. The earliest variant had no signature embossed on the base and was only made in San Francisco; however, Connell’s signature was soon added to the base, so the later variants made in San Francisco also had this feature.
Our 8 ¼ inch tall Connell’s Moonplant bottle is embossed ‘CONNELL’S BRAMINICAL MOONPLANT’ on one face of the oval bottle. “Moonplant” is beneath arched “Connell’s Brahminical” copy, all set in a sans serif typestyle. Two embossed lines on the base of the same face read ‘EAST INDIAN REMEDIES.’ The blank area between the upper and lower copy would have been where Connell placed a paper label. The opposite side of the bottle is embossed ‘TRADE MARK’ in an under or concave line of sans serif type. Above is a prominent embossed motif of the bottoms of two human feet surrounded by five-point stars that create a circle. There is an applied double-collar mouth and a smooth base. This example has Western “R’s” with the “kick-up” legs. There is no signature on the bottom.
According to J. M. Connell, in 1873, J. T. Reed, with J. T. Reed & Co. in Boston, came to California in search of health and wellbeing and met Connell by chance in San Francisco, who cured him with his Moonplant remedy, or so the story goes. This amazing cure left a demand for Moonplant in the East, and Connell set up Tucker & Videto as the agency for the New England States, New York and New Jersey.
J. M. Connell moved to Boston in the Spring of 1874 and took his Moonplant bottle mold. The bottles blown there are virtually identical to those made in San Francisco, with the only difference being the amber color of the glass, which is not a definitive differentiator. New England versions have a bit more red in the amber color though each glass batch can vary somewhat, leaving identification a challenge. Only those specimens without the cursive signature on the base can be positively identified as a Western-made bottle. A good number of olive amber specimens were very likely blown in the West and have the distinctive feel of Western glass.
In 1875 Connell’s Moonplant advertising started appearing in Eastern newspapers with the bold feet and stars trademark saying “Observe These Footprints, Connell’s Brahminical Moonplant East Indian Remedies. Introduced via San Francisco, thence to New York, New Jersey or Maine,” or other Eastern cities depending on the locale. These prominent ads appeared in newspapers up to April 1877.
J. M. Connell was naturalized in Boston on November 16, 1877. By that time, advertising ceased for his Moonplant remedy.
Primary Image: Connell’s Brahminical Moonplant East Indian Remedies bottle imaged by Gina Pellegrini at the FOHBC Virtual Museum west coast studio.
Support Image: Auction Lot 1025: Connell’s Brahminical Moonplant Connell’s Brahminical Moonplant. East Indian Remedies. (The definition of BRAHMINICAL is A member of a cultural and social elite, especially of that formed by descendants of old New England families). Image of 2 feet, surrounded by 10 stars and Trade Mark on reverse. Signature on the base. Very clean, very nice bottle in medium amber. Double roll applied top. Scarce and popular bottle. Please inspect. HWAC #38165 – FOHBC 2016 Sacramento National Antique Bottle Convention, 49er Bottle Jamboree Live Auction, Holabird Western Americana Collections
Support Image: Auction Lot 61: “Connell’s Brahminical / Moonplant / East Indian / Remedies” – “Trade Mark (And Stars Around Two Feet)” Medicine Bottle, America, 1860-1880. Oval, yellow amber with an olive tone, applied double collared mouth – smooth base, ht. 8 1/4 inches; (1/4 inch manufacturer’s slice crack below the double collared mouth). Rare, unusual, desirable. Kris Kernozicky collection. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #102
Support Image: Auction Lot 56: CONNELL’S BRAHMANICAL MOONPLANT EAST INDIAN REMEDIES with FOOTPRINT, STARS, and TRADEMARK on reverse. These elaborate bottles have two variants in that one was made in the east and the other, as shown here, was made in San Francisco. Certainly, a unique product, during the days there was no limit to the number of names and locations embossed on a bottle. This has the double roll collar that we see on western flasks and is immaculate. A light amber, we have to grade this a 9+. – Jeff Wichmann, American Bottle Auctions, March 2021
Support Image: Auction Lot 173: “Connell’s Brahminical / Moon Plant / East Indian / Remedies” – “(Motif Of Stars Around Two Feet) / Trade Mark” Medicine Bottle, America, 1860-1880. Oval, yellow amber, applied double collared mouth – smooth base, ht. 8 3/8 inches; (minor exterior high point wear). AAM pg. 113 A fine bottle with unusual embossing. Rare. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #104
Support: Reference to Connell’s Moonplant! at Western Bottle News, Rick Simi and Eric McGuire, January 2017
Support: Reference to Connell’s East Indian Brahminical Moonplant Remedies: their origin denoted and usefulness declared in testimonies of many well-known persons, J. M. Connell, San Francisco, California, Printed for the Proprietor by the Cosmopolitan Printing Co., 1873, Stanford Libraries
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