Merchant’s Gargling Oil Liniment. 1895 CDS, on Richwood House Theatrical Headquarters, Boston, MA cover
The Celebrated Gargling Oil was launched in 1833 by George W. Merchant, a pharmacist of Lockport , New York . His Universal Family Embrocation was esteemed along the Erie Canal where it was used to heal the bleeding sores of the horses and mules that pulled the boats along the Canal. Word-of-mouth of approval led to the concoction then known as Merchant ‘s Gargling Oil to be used as a liniment “for man and beast” , and the early trademark displayed a horse receiving the oil application. Merchant ‘s formula was sold to M. H. Tucker in 1855, and John Hodge joined the firm, being elected secretary in 1858. It was John Hodge who used a steamboat bedecked with banners advertising Merchant’s Gargling Oil, and the peak of the publicity stunt was the trip of the steamboat through the rapids and whirlpools of Niagra Falls on September 6, 1883. The formula for Gargling Oil, which was changed from time to time, included crude petrolatum, ammonia, water, benzine, crude oil, tincture of iodine, soft soap and water. Merchant’s Gargling Oil was still made in 1933, 100 years after its introduction.
(Holcombe, Henry W., Scott’ s Monthly Journal, 21:164-169, 204-208, July-August, 1940; see also Gerald Carson, p.40)