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Friday, September 11, 2009

Do they quack in Sweden & Finland??

My wife and I went to Sweden and Finland about six years ago to visit the land of her ancestors. It was a great trip for her and it became great for me when I found some old bottles in little country antique shops in Sweden and Finland. Today I'll show you two labeled ones that I would love some translation help with. Tomorrow I'll show you two others, non-labeled, that are just beautiful colors.

I'm pretty sure these are both medicines, probably from apothecary shops. Whether they were quackery or not can probably be determined when these words can be translated into English!

Okay, all you Swedes, Finns, and Swede-Finns, please help me out! What do these say? I'm thinking the aqua bottle below contained Ether and Turpentine. Am I close?


  1. I'm not Swedish of Finnish, but I could not help trying myself to translate the bottle labels. After MUCH research on various websites, here is what I was able to come up with.

    Bottle #1:
    är ett tekniskt preparat med framstående förmåga att verka uppfriskande och vålgörande en del för människan giftiga organiska ämnen.

    Loosely Translated:
    is a technical preparation with outstanding ability to work refreshing and beneficial part of human toxic organic substances.
    Read the Manual!

    Bottle #2:
    Apoteket i Närpes
    Eter och terpentin
    Eeteri tärpättiä
    Apteekki Närpiössä

    Loosely Translated:
    (appears to be in two half is in Swedish and bottom half is in Finnish)
    Pharmacy in Närpiö
    Ether and Turpentine
    Ether Turpentine
    Pharmacy Närpes

    As I said, I'm not Swede or Finn...but I couldn't help myself. Hope this helps some :)

  2. Wow! That was terrific for a person who doesn't speak the languages. I think you're absolutely right about the second bottle being in both languages. There were alot of Swede-Finns (Swedes living in Finalnd) living on the west coast of Finland, so both languages would have been appropriate for trade. I know Närpes
    is a town right near the west coast of Finland. If anyone can fine tune the translation of the first bottle, that would still be appreciated. I'd love to know what they mean by "human toxic organic substances"!

  3. I've done a little more research on the "Ether and Turpentine" combination and that turns out to be a medicine for dissolving gallstones. Turpentine was found to dissolve gallstones in a laboratory setting, so it was assumed it would do so in the body as well. The ether seemed to have a calming effect on the system and so seemed to be a good partner to the terpentine which has a horrid taste. The combination was called Durande's Specific for its creator back in the late 18th century. By the late 1870s it was becoming a less popular treatment because the biliary calculi (the gallstones) weren't actually being dissolved. This bottle is definitely a late 1870s style, so some poor Swede-Finn, miserable with pain from gallstones, went to their apothecary for a cure and was given an awful tasting remedy that was beginning to be questioned for its efficacy. He probably just kept on suffering.

  4. Talking about Scandinavia, here is a picture of bottle I found in Denmark, I'm not good in Danish, it says something like "Funny Drops"
    But not sure if it is "quack"

  5. Hello. I just stumbled in to tis page and saw the question about your bottles. I am Swedish and the comments above are all correct. For some history of hte Salubrin bottle I went to the Swedish wikipedia and ran the article through google-translate. I thin the translation was quite ok. This is it:
    Salubrin is a kind of disinfectant. It contains acetic acid, ethanol, ethyl acetate and water. The manufacture of the product was launched in 1893 by Per Håkansson and his firm AB, P. Hakansson (later grape, today Dr. Shoppers Food), who discovered that the employees at his vinegar in Skåne Eslöv rarely or never were sick.

    The drug was marketed to be used as "toilet preparations", the cooling jacket and SPONGING and as an antiseptic for minor exterior damage, among others, but also recommended, like other of the passage of drugs against various internal diseases, especially blood poisoning (sepsis) and tuberculosis (tuberculosis). It was also, like the similar Lazarol, notorious as an intoxicant. Internal use often elicited severe eczema.

    Salubrin widely used as relief for insect bites (eg mosquito bites) and sunburn.

    The name Salubrin, which is one of the oldest brands, has been derived from Latin, sa'lubris = healthy, wholesome, charitable, useful.

    In 1999 sold Salubrin of the grape (which simultaneously changed its name to Dr. Shoppers Food) to Hardford Daily Care.

  6. Thanks for your insights. I sure wish I could afford to travel all over the world; then I could have the fun I had in Finland of hunting through back country antique shops for a delicious souvenir of that country's quackery. Who needs postcards when you can have a bottle of Salubrin?? :)


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