Dr. Price’s Delicious Flavoring Extracts and other adventures in the collections

Hello! I’m working on a post, but am having trouble finishing it. I also want to say that this school year, having only had one hectic week so far, is turning into a stressful year. I have to work much harder than some people in school because I’m awful at remembering things unless I think they’re interesting (which by the way makes being a history major hard!), or even getting the nerve to not be a mess in general when it comes to my anxiety. It also takes me an insane amount of time to do the readings assigned, so I might not even have much time.

On the bright side, I do have to tell all of you about the awesome thing I overloaded my schedule on! I get to deal with my schools collection of artifacts! We’re going to be cataloging items from the Grignon Mansion that we acquired from the museum down the road, History at the Castle (which in itself is insanely interesting since it’s also got a permanent collection on Houdini, but that’s another story for another post!). I thought I would do some research on the Grignon Mansion to better understand the objects I’ll be cataloging, which will be the next post after this. First, I want to explain the process of cataloging to you guys.

Before you groan and click away from this post, know this, it’s not as simple as it sounds! It can be quite hard, really. Sometimes the items you have are really hard to describe, which means you might not even know what they are!

While I haven’t done this myself (yet! I get to do it tomorrow morning), from what my professor showed us, this is how it goes: First you get the item you want to catalog. Then you need to go to the program you use for cataloging. Lawrence uses a program called Past Perfect, a very fitting name if you ask me. You select what kind of item you have. This may require you to look it up in a book. We have this book that lists basically EVERYTHING EVER. For the item he showed us, a glass bottle that was once filled with “Dr. Prices Delicious Flavoring Extracts”, we used glass bottle as the category.

Then you need to explain where its from, what lot it was from, who found it and when before giving  it a number for filing. Lawrence has a specific way of going about that. I can’t remember at this moment exactly, but I’ll come back and edit this once I’ve done this by myself. Once you enter all of this, you write on a tag or a sliver of white paint the item number. And there! Done!

So, it doesn’t seem that hard, but you need to know some things before doing it, like figuring out what the item is. I couldn’t read the bottle from where I was standing, so I would have never guessed it had held extracts at one point. However, upon closer inspection, the words were extremely clear. Something that probably doesn’t happen often.

Here’s one I found on etsy. It was sold out, but click through to see the page.

This got me thinking. Who was Dr. Price? Was he really a doctor? What were his delicious extracts exactly? And why did this mansion have them?

First off, fun fact! Apparently he was an ancestor of Vincent Price! What? Cool! He had an MD in pharmaceutical chemistry, and apparently invented baking powder. The company itself was located in Chicago, not surprising since the Grignon mansion is in Kaukauna Wisconsin, meaning it wasn’t hard for them to get a hold of this bottle. However, from what I’ve gathered, his items were popular! His extracts came in flavors such as vanilla, orange and lemon. I found a really informative blog post about this Dr. Price here, which is where I got this information. And yet another article on Dr. Price, but this one more about someone who somehow came across the fact that Vincent Price’s grandfather may have been even more well known in his time, than Vincent Price himself is.

Duke university also had a really interesting collection of scans of Dr. Price’s cook book from 1904, which the first lovely blog post I mentioned above also mentioned. Here are a few of the images:

Unfortunately, these bottles could possibly be littered just about everywhere in the midwest, so my school doesn’t have a really rare find. This thought it only confirmed from this discussion I found on a website. However, it’s still really cool to me. I felt like I was touching history. I guess it goes to show how much of a history nerd I am.

I’m not going to get too in depth on this search because it’s 2 AM and I need to get to the collections at 9 AM, so the smart thing to do would stop this right now before I get too into this search. I will definitely tell you guys more about what I discover in the collections. I’m sure there has to be more interesting things. I feel like the guys on American Pickers getting excited over dirty, broken stuff! Which, I mean, let’s be honest, I’m trash for early 1900’s trash!

By the way, bottle sellers appear to get a bit catty on forums. Much like scuba divers when debating diving on ships like the Kamloops near Isle Royale. Another post for another time.

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