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Images from a colorful past

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Monday, June 01, 2009
ATSTrademark3 Some products have fared better than others over Oregon’s 150 years of statehood. When was the last time you sat down to a nice, steaming cup of Dr. Henley’s Oregon Kidney Tea? Or reached for your trusty box of Red Dragon Squirrel and Gopher Poison?

There is no shortage of color and wit in the 250 expired trademarks that were recently unearthed by state archivists and made available for purchase and non-commercial use at arcweb.sos.state.or.us. These are the forebears of the Nike swoosh and the Rogue Dead Guy Ale bottle, and they offer a portal into Oregon’s rich heritage of brand-building. The trademarks on display range from Savier & Co.’s “Extra Superfine Flour” in 1864 to Portland Rose Mayonnaise from 1932. And while the companies that created these labels
Trademarks courtesy of
Oregon Secretary of State,
Archives Division
are no longer with us, they did not perish for lack of artistic vigor.

For example, check out the 35 different labels for canned salmon, intricately detailed if not always appetizing. One company even hedged its bets by offering Ulysses S. Grant fish for Yanks and Robert E. Lee fish for Rebs.

Another lively trademark is from the India Packing Company’s canned Sicily Lemonade, the contents of which “can be equal to two dozen Best Sicily Lemons.”

Other labels artfully promote champagne cider, “Orego” peaches and Oahu bitters, whatever they are. Sketches of pheasants and bears adorn wheat labels and salmon cans, and while it isn’t surprising that some of the products such as Dr. Henley’s Dandelion Tonic (“for rousing the torpid liver”) and Grey Loo Carpcide (“destroys all microbes”) were doomed to fail the Darwinian test of time, they really aren’t any sillier than diet pills and home air purifiers, are they?

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