RB28p Proprietary “Battleship” Revenue Stamp, J. C. Ayer & Co. precancel


James Cook Ayer, graduate in medicine in 1841 from the University of Pennsylvania, bought Robbin’s Drug Store in Lowell, Massachusetts and commenced the manufacture of a line of remedies. Ayer’s Cherry Pectoral was first marketed in 1841 (containing morphine, bloodroot, antimony, ipecac and syrup of wild cherry) ; followed by Ayer’ s Sarsaparilla in 1848 (composed of sarsaparilla, stillingia, yellow dock, may apple and potas­sium and iron iodide). Soon thereafter he commenced the manufacture of Ayer’s Cathartic Pills and Ayer’s Ague Cure (the latter consisting main­ly of tincture of cinchona). By 1857 Ayer had moved into an immense building in Lowell, and by 1870 he was advertising his product in over 1,900 newspapers and periodicals, in addition to issuing millions of copies of almanacs in as many as 21 different languages. He built his own railroad with the wealth he accumulated to ship more of his products. Ayer’s Pectoral is still being made today by Sterling Drug Company.

(Holcombe, Henry W., Scott’s Monthly Journal, 18: 344-349, 394-398, December, 1937; January, 1938; see also James Harvey Young, p. 138; Stewart Holbrook, p. 47; Gerald Carson, pp. 73, 111).

Additional information

Catalog Number





2 1/2c


watermarked USIR


July 1, 1898


printed precancel in black

Catalog Value

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