Hayden’s Viburnum Compound (HVC) was manufactured right here in Bedford at the New York Pharmaceutical Company, located at the Bedford Springs. First produced in the 1860’s, the company’s Souvenir Hand-Book from 1893 notes that HVC was for “the ailments of women” and that it did not contain any narcotics. Katherine Schaub, a doctoral candidate in History at Case Western Reserve University wanted to find out exactly what was in a bottle of HVC as part of a REEL Lab project at Cleveland State University. The 1893 Souvenir Handbook lists the ingredients as viburnum opulus (European cranberry bush), dioscorea villosa (wild yam), scutellaria lateriflora (blue skullcap), and “a combination of aromatics.” However, like many patent medicines of the day, it contained large amounts of alcohol.
Schaub obtained a sample from an HVC bottle provided by the Dittrick Medical History Center, located in Cleveland, Ohio and subjected the dry sample to chemical analysis with Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Her results identified vanillin, cinnamaldehyde, benzoic acid, and coumarin as ingredients; the alcohol had since evaporated from this sample. The Bedford Historical Society has a bottle of HVC from c.1955 with its dark red liquid still inside. The bottle lists the contents as 48% alcohol with viburnum opulus, dioscorea, and prickly ash berries.
While the large amount of alcohol found in Hayden’s Viburnum Compound may have allowed one to temporarily forget their pain, Schaub did not identify any active ingredients with known analgesic properties. However, it appears that HVC might have at least tasted good; as Schaub notes, “HVC would have been a pleasant-smelling beverage with a strong vanilla/cinnamon flavor.” We agree; our 1955 bottle still has a vanilla and cinnamon scent.
Schaub presented her results, along with images of HVC advertising from the Bedford Historical Society collection, at the Research ShowCASE at Case Western Reserve University. We sincerely thank her for sharing her findings with us! If you would like to learn more about William Hayden, New York Pharmaceutical Company, or HVC, click here to check out our online collections.
Kathleen Fahey, for the Bedford Historical Society
“LOST. One pair of swans, stolen from Bedford Springs. Mass.; reward offered for information that will lead to discovery.”
The Hayden family were the proprietors of the Bedford Springs resort area, including the Sweetwater Hotel and the New York Pharmaceutical Company, located near Fawn Lake. Above you can see the Hayden family home, “Lakeside,” with 2 white swans (circled in red) swimming near the shore of Fawn Lake. Perhaps these are the missing swans or their relatives! The ad may have been submitted by Mrs. William R. Hayden, who also printed an ad in the same newspaper for a lost diamond and sapphire pin in 1918. This undated photograph is from Leona Proctor Cail’s scrapbook at the Bedford Historical Society.
Kathleen Fahey, Executive Director
Thanks to member Brian Oulighan for locating this newspaper article. Brian grew up in Bedford and now lives in Hudson, NH. Brian combs through old newspapers online for items related to Bedford history and sends them along to the Bedford Historical Society for our archives.
causing dry skin? Try Hayden’s White Lily Lotion, manufactured right here in
Bedford at the New York Pharmaceutical Company, located at the Bedford Springs.
The New York Pharmaceutical
Company’s Souvenir Hand-Book for 1893 notes that the White Lily Lotion may be
used not only as a moisturizer for dry skin, it is also a “soothing and
healing” eye lotion, face wash, and head wash. It also claims to relieve a
variety of ailments including nasal catarrh (mucus) and dandruff. For the
brave, it can also “be taken into the stomach without harm.”
It’s too bad
that Mr. Hayden is no longer harvesting the white lilies for his lotion from
Fawn Lake, the lilies have become an invasive species and have drawn the
attention of the Bedford Conservation Commission.
The Bedford Historical Society is proud to have an excellent collection related to the New York Pharmaceutical Company, Dr. William R. Hayden, and Bedford Springs including archives, photos, and even medicine bottles. Check out our online collection here: https://bedfordmahistory.pastperfectonline.com/search. Try typing “Hayden” into the keyword search to see more of this collection.