Vin Mariani Part II

Part I | Part II

"Mariani introduced his wine to the public in either 1863 or 1865. In 1872 he published a short article, "La Coca du PĂ©rou" in a small therapeutic journal. This effort was followed in 1878 by the first two volumes on the history and therapeutic applications of coca; the second volume appeared in 1888, and a translation was published in New York in 1896.

All of Mariani's coca products- and, in addition to Vin Mariani, there were Mariani's elixir, Mariani's lozenges, Mariani's pastilles, and Mariani's tea - contained generous portions of coca's chief alkaloid, cocaine. Their popularity was so great that Mariani became the largest importer of coca leaves in Europe, surpassing even those pharmaceutical houses which manufactured great quantities of cocaine.

According to the most knowledgeable historian of coca, Mariani knew more about the chemistry of coca than anyone in Europe or America. And judging by the success of his business ventures, he had few peers as an entrepreneur. But he was more than an able chemist with finely honed business instincts- he was something of an alchemist who apparently believed that in coca he had found the philosopher's stone, the very elixir of life. He was also, as you might expect, a lover of coca:

"... Coca is the hobby of Mariani. It is his recreation, his relaxation and constant source of pleasure, wholly removed from the sordid commercial interests. At Neuilly, on the Seine , Paris, France, where his laboratory is located, his study is tastefully arranged with rich tapestries and carvings, in which that.... Coca leaf and flower are so artistically used as the motif of decoration that they are not obtrusive but must be pointed out in order to be recognized."

As great as was Mariani's success in Europe, it seems it was even greater in America. I have not been able to ascertain the volume of his business either here or abroad, but it was large enough to make him a ver rich man. And, more significantly, large enough to spawn a host of imitators. For though cocaine, which had first achieved popularity in America as a cure of opiate addiction... was by the 1890s no long being heavily pushed for this purpose, a drug which made so many people so good clearly had its virtues and the success of Vin Mariani had made its commercial potential obvious. The doctors and the patent medicine industry soon found any number of uses for it, and cocaine quickly became popular as a general tonic and stimulant, a cure for the common cold, and a remedy for asthma, hay fever, and sinusitis."

-pp. 57- 58, Cocaine: Its History, Uses and Effects by Richard Ashley (1976)

Return to Part I.

Vin Mariani Green Glass Bottle
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