Museum Homepage

The San Mateo County Historical Association
Online Collections Database

The mission of the San Mateo County Historical Association is to inspire wonder and discovery
of the cultural and natural history of San Mateo County.

Object Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Catalog Number 1999.048.420
Description Bottle Recovered from City Centre Plaza c. 1846-1920. This bottle is square shaped in cross section and it has narrowed slightly from shoulder to base. The rim has prescription finish which is narrow (vertically) and the outside surface distinctly tapers in from the top surface of the finish to bottom with four flattened body side edges. The bottle embossed as follows " A. TRASK'S / MAGNETIC / OINTMENT" with line of lettering on three sides. The base is shaped like square with a concave circle.
Object Name Bottle, Medicine
Collection 3D - Medical & Psychological Tools & Equipment
Title Bottle Recovered from City Centre Plaza c. 1846-1920.
Date c. 1846-1920
Creator David Ransom & Son company of Buffalo, New York
Role Manufacturer
Inscription Text "A. TRASK'S / MAGNETIC / OINTMENT" (line of lettering on three sides of bottle).
Provenance 20 boxes of archaeological material excavated from the City Centre Plaza site at 950 Main at Middlefield in Redwood City. Excavation for development, done by Basin Research Associates.
Notes "Perhaps the best known magnetic medicine was Trask's Magnetic Ointment made by the David Ransom & Son company of Buffalo, New York. The ointment a "remedy for pain, nervous headache, inflammation of the bowels, burns, fever sores..." was first produced in 1848 according to the patent office records. According to Wilson in his book on 19th century medicines, "Trask's Ointment was introduced by S. Bull, of New York state in 1846." Ransom became the proprietor in the mid 1860s and ownership changed hands several times after that. It was still being advertised for sale one hundred years after being introduced.

There are many different variants of the Trask's Ointment including machine made embossed bottles and a damaged yellow green pontiled specimen. The wholesale druggist catalogs of the 1880s list the ointment in two sizes (25 cents and 40 cents). The inexpensiveness of the brand probably contributed to its long lived success.

The David Ransom Company also controlled Dr. Miller's Universal Magnetic Balm introduced according to patent records in 1851. Wilson's research indicates it was first made in the 1860s by Dr. J. R. Miller of Syracuse, New York. The Magnetic Balm was a remedy for stomach and bowel complaints including cholera. The Ransom company also owned Prof. Anderson's Dermador another popular seller."
[ 08/12/2016]
Dimensions H-2.625 W-1.25 D-1.25 inches
Search Terms Apothecary
City Center Plaza
Redwood City
Subjects Archaeology
Bottle industry