Q: I have a clear glass bottle embossed “Syrup of Black Draught.” It has a stopper top. I found it in a garbage dump near an old farmhouse site in northern Kentucky. The interior of the bottle is very wavy compared to the outside. I suspect it might be 60 to 100 years old. Do you know anything about this bottle?
A: Dr. A.Q. Simmons invented a patent medicine in 1840 he called “Thedford’s Black Draught.” The main ingredient was senna, a plant used as a laxative. In 1879 Z.C. Patten bought the rights to Black Draught and dropped “Thedford’s” from the name. He founded the Chattanooga Medicine Co. to make and distribute it. Syrup of Black Draught is still being made and is now produced in syrup and tablet form by Lee Pharmaceuticals, a personal care products company established in California in 1971. Black Draught signs, dispensers and ephemera can be found. Dolly Parton wrote the lyrics to the Black Draught theme song, which includes the line “Black Draught makes you smile from the inside out.”