Pharmaceutical Nostalgia

Recently the CALHN Health Museum received a large donation of pharmacy related items from Judy Rice. Judy, a former pharmacist, is an avid collector of pharmacy related items and we received many amazing items into our collection. However, one particular item stood out to me on more of a personal level, bringing back a wave of memories and nostalgia from my childhood.

That item was Rawleigh’s Medicated Ointment.

It wasn’t the name that I immediately recognised but its distinctive blue, gold and white tin with the floral design around the edges. In fact, as a child I knew it by another name: ‘Boys Ointment’. How it came to be known by this name in my family I don’t know. Although, its use to treat cuts, burns and sores – ailments that in a time gone by were associated with ‘rough and tumble’ boys – likely suggests the origin.

As well as cuts, burns and sores the ointment was also marketed as a treatment for colds, croup, earaches, headaches and muscular pains.

The ointment was developed by The W.T. Rawleigh Company, which was founded in the United States in 1889. It was known as for its ‘door to door’ sales approach, with its salesmen becoming known as the Rawleigh man. In 1928, the company set up a factory in Melbourne, Australia and started manufacturing and distributing their products in Australia.

Interestingly, the ointment can still be bought from Rawleigh’s, still coming in the familiar tin.

Are there any medicinal items from our collection that bring back memories for you?

Written by Jonathan Hull, CALHN Health Museum