Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Cure For, Well.........Everything!

As promised, this post will tell the story of the little amber bottle depicted in my last blog posting.  It has a fascinating story to tell. 

Valentine's Meat Juice Bottle, About 3" High
On a trip to Richmond, Virginia a few years ago, Cindy and I visited several museums and other points of interest in and around the city.  One of the sites we toured was the Valentine Museum.

The Valentines were a very prominent family in Richmond.  Perhaps the best known of this family was Edward Valentine (1838---1930).  Edward was a sculptor who is famous for his works in marble and bronze.  He designed the Robert E Lee recumbent memorial, the Stonewall Jackson memorial and the Thomas Jefferson memorial.

Edward Valentine's Marble Sculpture of Robert E Lee, Lee Chapel, Lexington, Virginia
His brother, Mann S.Valentine (1824---1892), became wealthy as a Richmond businessman by founding and managing the Valentine Meat Juice Company in Richmond.

Fits Very Nicely in the Palm of Your Hand
In 1870, an ill relative who was unable to eat caused Mann Valentine to come up with the idea of creating a meat juice product to aid in nutrition for the ill.  The idea caught on with the public; and soon, Valentine's meat juice was a popular health tonic.

Valentine's Meat Juice Was A Common Prescription
There were many testimonies from physicians touting the healing properties of the juice for practically every known ailment:  upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, general debility and more.

It'll Cure Whatever Needs Curing
Approximately 20,000 pounds of beef flesh per day were used in the production of the juice. 

Archaelogical digs around brothels have yielded many of the bottles that were cast aside after being consumed.  Prostitutes believed that the meat juice offered protection from and a cure for sexually transmitted diseases (known as "social diseases" back in the day).

A famous murder case involved a Mrs. Maybrick, who murdered her husband by poisoning his meat juice with arsenic. 

Fits Easily in Your Pocket or Purse!
Valentine's Meat Juice Company apparently went out of business sometime late in the twentieth century.  I had a hard time getting firm information on the exact date of its demise.  Suffice to say that, as knowledge of nutrition increased throughout the last century, demand for this product weakened until the company closed its doors. 

Today, we look upon the notion of meat juice as a health potion as being backward in the extreme.  But not very long ago, Valentine's meat juice was an accepted and trusted treatment by the medical community. 


  1. Love the story on the meat juice bottle. What "cures" do we accept and trust today endorsed by the "medical community"?

  2. Very interesting. Although, just the term 'meat juice' makes me a little queasy.

  3. I agree with Jane. Eeek! I'm a meat geek anyway and can get grossed out easily. Okay, so even tho the bottle is really neat, I'm not so thrilled about its past contents. :)

  4. This is a great story very engaging. The photos are excellent too. What grabbed my eye was the name of the pharmacy, "The Kyle Pharmacy" wonder if I'm related. It is amazing how things we thought were so helpful in the past turned out to be the wrong idea. You have inspired me to pull out some stuff I have in a box and do a photo story. Thanks!

  5. This is very interesting.
    Many greetings Sabine

  6. Very interesting story, I did not know that the meat juice was used in medicine.
    Ciao Clint!!

  7. Wow! great story, well-told with excellent photographs!!!

  8. Hi Clint -

    Thank you for the education about Valentine. Interesting stuff...

    I love that sculpture of Lee. Impressive indeed.

  9. I never heard of this product but I do know as late as the 1940's hospitals always served a salty beef consomme with dinner. I suspect the taste of this must have been unpleasant. None of which takes away from your find or the piece of history that you shared with us. Have a wonderful evening. Blessings...Mary

  10. I also never heard of it and thanks for the story and sharing.

    Good to have you back at my blog.

    Have a great day.

    Bless you

  11. Clint my congratulations because your post are always so intresting and well documented, really great Clint, thank you

  12. Great story, Clint!
    Many greetings and wish you a very nice day!

  13. This was a great story and told so beautifully by you. Thank you, I'm so glad I bumped into your blog.