Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Just dug up!

Wednesday welcome to everyone! 

My blog has been silent for days since my limited writing time has been devoted to my WIP. However, I had intended to do another of my 'Weapons through the Ages’ posts today but I got sidetracked by a new find.

A small excavation by the building engineer was done this morning in my back garden to ascertain the suitability of the soil for the foundations of the new house that is going to be built there next year.
I'm delighted to say that there will be no issues with the foundation digging since the site of the long defunct Aberdeenshire Canal is a little east of my garden. The worry was that the land would be waterlogged. I've been living and working the garden for 26 years and I could tell the engineer it is very free draining. Red tape exists, though, and he had to do his job and check what actually is there.

When the soil was backfilled for safety reasons, the work on the house not starting till next year, I had a look at the newest dug up patch. To my delight, another intact glass bottle had been brought to the surface. My garden ground is very old, the house built in the 1820s, so I have dug up a number of interesting items including other as yet undated glass bottles.
Today's find was this intact glass bottle.

Veno's Lightning Cough Cure2

It prompted me to find out a little bit more about it.

Mr Veno didn’t start off with that name. William Varney was born in Castle Douglas, Scotland, in 1866. Census information states that he was employed as a Telegram Learner at 15 years of age. At 17, William went to sea as a cabin boy on the Guion and sailed to America where he stayed for three years. In 1891, he returned to America and worked in advertising. By 1894, he patented Veno’s Drug Co Ltd in Pittsburg Pennsylvania.  At this time, there were a lot of quacks and charlatans doing a roaring trade selling all sorts of potions to cure ills but many of them were peddling rubbish and even dangerous mixtures. Varney was one of the more competent ones having acquired a reputable formula which he patented as - Veno’s Cough Mixture. Following on the success of his mixture, he changed his name to Veno. In 1897, he left the USA and returned to Britain. He set up a factory and headquarters in Manchester where his company produced the cough mixture. His company also patented and sold Germolene; a Veno’s Seaweed Liniment; and Dr Cassels Indigestion Tablets.

By 1920, he was a main employer in the Manchester area and by 1920 was knighted for his services to industry, though mainly for his help in the recruitment of soldiers during WWI.
By 1925, he thought he had skin cancer because he had a problem with his lip. At this point in time, he sold off his patents; company; and all rights to Beecham’s Pharmaceuticals. As it happened, he did not have skin cancer at all and in 1933 he was found dead of a gunshot wound in his garden grounds. It was thought to be a suicide because, although still reasonably rich, a number of his high finance projects had collapsed and he had lost a lot of money.

I know for sure that as growing up I was often given Veno’s Cough Mixture and Germolene was applied to my scrapes and wounds. The indigestion tablets? I don’t think so, but I was regularly given Milk of Magnesia to ‘make me go’ – a euphemistic phrase for having regular bowel motions!

How old my newly acquired  bottle is, I don’t know but it could be as old as the turn of the century if it is one of the earliest Veno’s bottles. My next research would be to establish what the meaning is of the 2 that is etched on the glass.



  1. Hello i have found one of these exact bottles in an old dump near me its great to know the history behind it

    1. Yes, Hugh, that's true and every sip might have helped an irritable cough like I've just developed today!

  2. We have just dug up one of these bottles in our garden in Essex.Great to know the history.

  3. I have just found one of the a couple of days ago in a known tip site just outside of Sunderland. Thanks for the info on it. Dan


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