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Friday, August 14, 2009

The Blue Lydia

There are millions of Lydia E. Pinkham Vegetable Compound bottles out there because the medicine was just so darned popular. And because it was purchased by millions of women, bottle diggers and bottle collectors could care less about them. The bottle itself is pretty ho-hum to begin with. Not a fancy shape or color and the most basic embossing. Not pontiled either.

Now if you come across a labeled version on the internet or in an antique shop or yard sale, odds are verrrrrrrrrry high that the color of the label will be somewhere between aged tan to rotted pumpkin (keep your jack-o-lantern until December to see what I mean). That was the color range for about 70 years. The label's text and design changed from fancy Victorian promises to government-issue boring, but what almost nobody knows is that the very first Lydia Pinkham bottle had a blue label. Yes, boys and girls, it is the ultra-rare, fabulously valuable, and hauntingly beautiful Blue Lydia.

I know of only three in existence after almost 30 years of collecting and researching. The best and earliest example is at the Lynn Museum and Historical Society in Lynn, Massachusetts. The second best example is in a private collection a few miles from my home; and the third is also in a private collection but has all of the blue leached out so that the label is just aged tan.

I do not have one; I am not yet worthy. But I have been allowed to hold and photograph all three and now I put an image of the best one into your virtual collection. You're welcome.

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