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Wistar’s Balsam Cherry Rare Antique Medicine Advertising Sign


Vintage Medicine Cough Syrup Advertising Memorabilia Collectibles For Sale
Wistar’s Balsam of Wild Cherry, 1880
Advertsing Sign Poster Lithograph - American Patent Medicine Advertising Sign
Circa 1880


Amazing Piece of HISTORY!

In our 42 years collecting vintage historic posters, this is about the most beautiful and historically significant vintage advertising lithograph sign we’ve ever acquired.    The artwork is simply stunning on this astonishing 140+ year old Original  advertising sign..

Where in your home would this NOT be the showpiece ?   One of the most aesthetically stunning 19th century advertising signs you’ll ever see.  
Extremely Rare original, circa 1880 Chromolithograph American Roll-Up Advertising Sign for Wistar’s Balsam of Wild Cherry – a Patent Medicine manufactured by Dr. Henry Wistar of Philadelphia. This stunning piece of American Advertising is about 16" by 25" in its period, walnut frame. The Sign is printed on medium to heavy weight paper stock and displays gorgeously as framed.

NOTE:   After extensive online research it appears this 19th century advertising poster has Never appeared on the market, before this one.  Hence, this may very well be the sole survivor of this stunning piece of Americana history!

Size: 16" by 25" framed (original period Walnut frame)

* See enlargeable images above and below

    The Sign features an image of a charming little girl ankle deep in a stream of water. She carries a fish net in her left hand and raises the hem of her skirt with her right hand avoiding the surf that rolls toward the shore. The Sign’s advertising text reads  “Wistar’s Balsam of Wild Cherry / Cures Coughs and All Lung Complaints”. An image of the paper wrapped Product Package of a bottle of Wistar’s Balsam of Wild Cherry Patent Medicine is pictured at the lower right hand corner of the Sign.

    This outstanding, early American Patent Medicine Company, Chromolithograph Roll-Up Advertising Sign lacks the original metal strips at the top and bottom of the print. This type of Sign would be sent by the advertiser to the retail outlet rolled up in a tube and the retailer would unroll the sign and use it to decorate his walls and advertise the product. Usually these signs were thrown away after a short time but sometimes the retailer would roll them up and save them thus preserving them for future collectors.

    Dr. Henry Wistar's Balsam of Wild Cherry was a concoction of cherry extract, alcohol, and opiates. The Balsam was heavily marketed through yearly almanacs and trade cards as a cure for any throat, chest, and lung disease, including consumption. Despite criticism from fellow physicians and pharmacists, many like Dr. Wistar chose to join the highly profitable Patent Medicine industry. Demand for over-the-counter and less-invasive methods of care had increased as treatment from qualified physicians was costly, difficult to obtain, and sometimes quite painful.

    The history of Wistars Balsam of Wild Cherry is complex. The first ad which can be found is from Chambersburg, PA, a newspaper ad dated 1841. The medicinal value of the resin gathered from the Balsam of trees of South and Central America was so well known in the 1500’s, that Pope Pio IV pronounced it a sacrilege to destroy or injure the trees that produce the resin. In the early 1800’s New England newspapers advertised the arrival of cargo vessels which listed Balsam among cargo items. Sometime around 1840, Henry Wister developed a nostrum, Dr. Wistar’s Balsam of Wild Cherry, a heady mélange of cherry bark, alcohol and opiates. Sales were enormous. Dr. Wistar’s Balsam of Wild Cherry was on the market for over 100 years. Its bottles- made long after the Wistarburgh glassblowers last fired the furnace near the dawn of the Revolutionary War- remain highly prized by glass collectors.

    This rare and attractive, 1880’s American Patent Medicine Chromolithograph Advertising Sign is in very good condition - the colors are bright and vibrant, rich and warm and there is no serious physical damage of any kind. There are horizontal creases that are typical of this type of Roll-Up Advertising Sign as can be seen in the scans below and there is some very minor, professional surface touch-up to the surface along the upper most crease. The surface is generally clean and crisp and the Sign Displays beautifully as framed. Please see the images below for content and condition of this terrific American Patent Medicine Advertising Sign.

    A very rare and very attractive, 1880’s Roll-Up, Point-of-Sale “Wistar’s Balsam of Wild Cherry” Patent Medicine Chromolithograph Advertising Sign and a fantastic addition to any collection!!!

The sign/litho even has an great 3D-like image of the actual bottle as it was sold  140 years ago, in 1880.

NOTE: I am not sure Why but early, particularly 19th century advertising signs for Cough Syrup and other medicines produced some of the most amazing and aesthetically beautiful advertising art.  And this is indeed a prime example of that . 

Cvtreasures stamp Not on original