Love Potion #1

Perhaps we should have saved today’s mystery artifact for Valentine’s Day.

“A Sure Cure for Love” declares the slim and yellowed label encircling this wee glass vial, followed by “Compounded by L. A. W. Novelty Company” and “patent pending.”

It turns out that L. A. W. Novelty Company was the predecessor of today’s Buxton, the leather goods manufacturer; it was established in 1898 by Dana Buxton and his wife, Julia. The name was intended “to capitalize on the popularity of a bicycling club called the League of American Wheelmen,” according to the Buxton website.

As yet uncorked, the curative contents remain a mystery, though one can see something opaque and parchment-colored plugging the bottom of the jar. It’s hard to tell whether that’s an actual bit of paper, congealed powder, or once-liquid potion long-since solidified.

This charming novelty was discovered in a wooden writing box belonging to either Addie Bixby Weston, or her daughter, Evie. The Weston and Bixby families hailed from Madison and Norridgewalk, Maine, and Addie earned a measure of local fame as a fiction writer and essayist for publications such as Ladies Home Journal in the late 19th century.

The entire Weston collection, currently being processed at MHS, includes a wide variety of objects, documents, letters, and other ephemera belonging to the two families over a period dating from the late 1700s to about 1970.

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