Scope and Content
Title: Birchall and Owen Archive,
Date (inclusive): 1849-1857
Collection number: 331
Creator: Birchall and Owen
(0.25 linear ft)
University of California, Los Angeles. Library.
Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections
for the Sciences
Los Angeles, California 90095-1490
Abstract: A small collection of business correspondence from
the firm of Birchall and Owen, retail suppliers of drugs, patent medicines,
medical supplies, and stationers to Springfield, Illinois and wholesalers to the
surrounding region. The firm also printed and distributed almanacs. Price lists
and circulars from some of their suppliers provide an interesting overview of
the popular medicines of mid-19th century America. The correspondence provides a
window on commercial practices of the time, and the emerging emphasis on
marketing and advertisement of products.
Physical location: UCLA Biomedical Library History and Special
Collections in the Sciences locked cage
Language of Material: Collection materials in English
Collection is open for research.
Property rights in the physical objects belong to the UCLA Biomedical
Library. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and
their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds
the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission
to publish if the Biomedical Library does not hold the copyright.
[Identification of item], Birchall and Owen Archive, 331, Louise M. Darling
Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences, University
of California, Los Angeles.
Purchased from aGatherin', West Sand Lake, N.Y. in 2009.
The partnership between printer/bookbinder Caleb Birchall (1808-1860) and
druggist Thomas Jefferson Vance Owen (1827-1876) lasted from 1848 to 1855. Their
drugstore in Springfield, Illinois seems to have been a thriving business, with
supplies arriving from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, etc. and
customers scattered over a wide region. The firm dealt not only in drugs and
patent medicines, but also sold various medical and dental supplies, stationery
goods, and printed and distributed an almanac (e.g., "Goudy's Illinois and
Missouri farmers' almanac and repository of useful knowledge, for the year
1849...") In documents not in this collection, there is a record of Abraham
Lincoln being a customer of the firm for office ledgers.
A great volume of the Birchall and Owen business correspondence has survived,
but has been split into various-sized lots scattered amongst individuals and
institutions; the Illinois State Historical Library houses one of the largest
Scope and Content
This collection contains 45 items of correspondence, printed circulars, and
other commercial communications. Suppliers' printed lists provide a good
overview of the popular drugs and patent medicines of the time. The letters from
individual customers and jobbers highlight not only the most popular products,
but also mention rarer items such as gold paint or gum opii. A list compiled by
the bookseller (see Folder 1) itemizes each document with date, name of
correspondent, and a short indication of content.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this
collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Birchall and Owen
(Springfield, Ill.) -- Records and correspondence
Drugstores -- Illinois --