The cover is unusual in that it appears to have originated at the Chamberlain Medicine Co. Sydney, N.S.W., Australia, the block of five red 1d ‘N.S.W. Shield’ stamp has been cancelled SUVA/ 23/ JAN 12/ (FIJI) and it has been addressed to the Chamberlain Medicine Co., Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.A. There were no cancellations on the reverse (Figure 1).
The second cover has the identical return address and the green ½d and blue 2d N.S.W. stamps have been cancelled in a suburb of Sydney ULTIMO/ 2( ) DE 11 4 15 P/ N.S.W. It is addressed to Miss E. May Spring, c/ Chamberlain Medicine Co., Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.A. (Figure 2).
The reverse has a roller cancel SYDNEY, NSW, 1911 and a red label is stuck on the flap and reads in part: Just what you need/ CHAMBERLAIN’S TABLETS/ Stomach & Liver/ For Sale By/ ALL CHEMISTS and STOREKEEPERS (Figure 3).
As the state of Iowa grew so did the businesses and industries. In the spring of 1872, Lowell Chamberlain moved to Marion Iowa to engage in the druggist trade. He formed a partnership with Dr. Norman Owen who had practiced in Marion since 1863, establishing the firm of Owen & Chamberlain producing various patent medicines for local sale. In 1882, Davis Chamberlain bought out Dr. Owen’s share and the 2 brothers moved to Des Moines, establishing what would become the largest patent medicine business in Iowa. In 1892 the name of the firm was changed from Chamberlain & Co. to Chamberlain Medicine Company.
By 1900 the company was flourishing in a large new plant located at 702 Sixth Avenue, Des Moines. The number of products expanded greatly and sales reached to an international scale, for the company had branches in Australia, South Africa and Canada. In the early 1900s the Sydney branch of the company published a sixteen page booklet about Stomach Diseases - Alternative treatment, a copy of which is held at the National Library of Australia.
About 1910 Davis bought the business from Lowell, and Davis also built the Chamberlain Hotel in Des Moines. Around 1925, Davis Chamberlain sold the Chamberlain Medicine Company to St. Louis, Missouri interests, retaining only the Chamberlain Golden Touch Lotion.
A copy of Chamberlain’s Almanac in 1923 advertised popular products such as Chamberlain’s Cough Remedy, Chamberlain’s Liniment and Chamberlain’s Pain Balm. The bottles and containers for many of the Chamberlain Medicine Co. can be found on the internet, including a pre-1892 Chamberlain & Co. ‘Diarrhoea Remedy for colic, cholera and ( ); Chamberlain’s Cough Remedy for Coughs, Colds, Croup, Sore Throat; Chamberlain’s Eye & Skin Ointment priced at 25 cents for sore eyes, tetters, ring worm, scald head, barber’s itch, piles, burns, scalds, frostbites, chilblains, frozen feet, sore nipples, chapped hands , chronic sores, and for diseases of horses, etc; and, Chamberlain’s Pain-Balm, a liniment for external use only for Rheumatism, neuralgia, sciatica, lame back, lumbago, gout, etc. (Figures 4- 7).