H.H. Epping’s Buchu Manufactured by L. Pierce & Co. Columbus Ga
H. H. Epping’s Buchu
L. Pierce & Co.
Henry H. Epping & Lovick Pierce, Columbus, Georgia
Rectangular Aquamarine Medicine
Provenance: Allen Woodall Collection
Our extremely rare Epping’s Buchu bottle is from Columbus, Georgia. Buchu is a flowering plant in the family Rutaceae, native to the lower elevation mountains of western South Africa, where it occurs near streams in fynbos habitats. The indigenous people of South Africa used the plant as a folk remedy for various disorders, including urinary tract infections. Dutch settlers used Agathosma betulina, commonly called Buchu, to make a brandy tincture. The tincture is still used today. Buchu was also a common ingredient in patent medicines, with many products using Buchu in their name and embossed on a bottle.
Our 8 3/8 inches tall rectangular museum bottle is embossed ‘H. H. EPPING’S BUCHU’ (side panel 1), ‘MANUFACTURED BY L. PIERCE & Co.’ (panel 2, two lines, the “o” of “Co” is smaller and raised) and ‘COLUMBUS GA’ (opposite side panel, the “a” of “GA” is smaller and raised). The extremely rare bottle has four recessed panels with beveled edges. The fourth blank panel is where the proprietor would have placed a paper label. There is a double-collar rounded mouth set upon a tall neck. The bottle is pontiled.
H. H. Epping and L. Pierce were prominent names in Columbus, Georgia from the 1840s through the 1860s. The 1859-60 city directory, the first one issued for Columbus, listed H. H. Epping as an agent for the Union Bank. Lovick Pierce was probably the “L. Pierce” of L. Pierce and Co. He was a Methodist minister. A search in newspapers printed in Columbus in that period reveal advertisements for a drugstore operated by Winter and Epping. Those advertisements were placed on December 24, 1845 and continued into 1846. H. H. Epping signed the advertisements.
On July 29, 1846, two new advertisements were placed in newspapers. One was for “Epping’s Compound Fluid Extract of Buchu,” and the other was for “Epping’s Compound Syrup of Sarsaparilla.” A later advertisement for Epping’s Sarsaparilla Root extract had this statement: “The undersigned, who has been for a number of years engaged in the business of preparing and dispensing medicines.” That advertisement, signed by Henry H. Epping, was found in The Enquirer on March 18, 1849. Epping first produced his Epping’s Buchu in the 1850s. The approaching Civil War years would stop all production and advertising of Epping’s Buchu.
In April 1869, the following was posted in Georgia newspapers: “Notice to Physicians, Druggists and The Public Generally: We, the undersigned, practicing physicians in the city of Columbus, Ga., being fully advised of the superior excellence of “Epping’s Compound Fluid Extract of Buchu.” Now being manufactured and offered to the public by Messrs. L. Pierce & Co., take great pleasure in certifying to all our profession—and to all druggist (sic) and all persons who may need an Extract Buchu—that this Extract is by far the best article ever used; so much so that we give it great prominence in all those diseases in the treatment of which Buchu is useful. (Signed by seven prominent doctors) Columbus, Ga. April 20, 1869. Wholesale Agency at L. W. Hunt & Co’s, 82 and 84 Cherry st., Macon, Ga.“
In April 1871, a competing product was advertised called “Epping’s Buchu Improved! Brooks’ Highly Concentrated Compound Fluid Extract of Buchu! (or Epping’s Buchu Improved) For all diseases common to, and depending on the Kidneys and Bladder. CAUTION.—None genuine without the name of Jno. W. Brooks is blown in each bottle, &c. Manufactured only by BANKS & BROOKS,, Druggists, 107 Broad Street, Columbus, Ga.”
Also in April and May 1871, the other Buchu product posted “Epping’s Fluid Contract of Buchu. Manufactured by F. S. Chapman, an experienced Druggist, in the very last order, for Dr. L. Pierce, Proprietor of the Original Recipe. Bought of H. H. Epping, the original compounder, he being by profession a Pharmaceutical Druggist. “The war cut it off for about seven years.” L. Pierce & Co. Columbus, Georgia. Care of F.S. Chapman.”
The product would fade away until 1878 when “Epping’s Genuine Compound Extract of Buchu” was again put on the market by Brannon & Carson, as reported in the Columbus Weekly Enquirer in September 1878.
Primary Image: Epping’s Buchu bottle imaged on location in Augusta, Georgia, by Alan DeMaison, FOHBC Virtual Museum Midwest Studio.
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