The Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library is a place of discovery. All are welcome to visit and explore our unique holdings, whether as a researcher or an observer. The breadth and depth of our collections are vast, and it is nearly impossible to investigate every nook and cranny. We invite you this year, through our blog, to tour some of those places you didn’t know existed, and get acquainted with collections you might not have previously explored. Check back in with us weekly over the course of 2013 as we offer you a delightful look into some of the favorite, but perhaps lesser-known, corners of our collections. These pieces are visually interesting, come attached with fascinating stories, and are often 3D objects you might not have realized are part of what makes up The Extraordinary World of MARBL.
What do Vicks’ and MARBL’s Charles Herty Collection have in common? The turpentine cup. Developed by a Georgia native, Dr. Charles Herty, the “herty cup” singlehandedly saved the South’s rapidly declining turpentine industry. The cup and gutter system developed by Herty in the early 1900s made the collection of the longleaf pine resin more economical by increasing the quality and yields of the resin. It also extended the productive life of the trees. Once collected, the resin would be distilled in a large still to create pitch used to caulk holes in wooden boats and coat rigging on ships. Outside of the naval industry, turpentine became a key ingredient in many household cleaning products, paint thinners and solvents, and as a medicinal elixir used to heal wounds, and treat lice and intestinal parasites. Turpentine mixed with animal fat became a potent chest rub or inhaler for nasal and throat ailments and formed a basis for Vicks’ many formulations.