Aspirin has been used for many thousands of years as a way of reducing fever and dealing with mild to moderate pain. By the time of the Second World War traditional herbal remedies using willow bark had long since been replaced by pharmaceuticals produced in a factory, however aspirin remained the most popular over the counter pain killer in use. India was obviously a huge market for English sellers of this drug, not yet having a large home grown industry to produce the drug. Aspirin was produced in England and then shipped out to India where it was sold to civilians and military alike. Today we are looking at a rare survivor, a packet of ‘Aspro’ produced for the Indian market:
The brand name is reproduced in several different Indian scripts, the country having several languages in use across its vast interior. The packet also caters for those who cannot read by having a picture of the contents and the price in the form of a 1 anna coin, printed life size on the front:
Even if you were illiterate, you could match the picture of the coin to the money in your pocket and work out how much the packet cost. The back of the packet gives instructions on how to use the aspirin in the various languages:
There is a red stamp showing that the Aspro complied with Indian price controls on drugs. These were presumably measures put in place to ensure that extortionate prices were not charged to the customer and that fair prices allowed nearly all in society to afford basic medication:
This packet is a remarkably rare survivor and my suspicion is that it was bought by a British soldier in World War Two, put in his trunk just in case and never used. It came over to England after the war and has somehow survived eighty years hidden in a drawer until I purchased it. It is now a brilliant little additon to my Indian small kit collection, maybe not military but certainly a common piece in any soldier’s small pack.