The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office on Monday fielded a call about potential explosives discovered at a home in Molalla.
When the Metropolitan Explosive Disposal Unit — better known as the “bomb squad” — arrived, they encountered an unusual find: an antique box that potentially contained blasting caps.
The box contained the words: “BLASTING CAPS. DANGEROUS. HANDLE WITH CARE. FULL SURFACE COVERED WITH AN INFLAMMABLE AND EXPLOSIVE WATERPROOFING COMPOUND.”
Based on a search of similar vintage products available for sale on sites like eBay and Etsy, The Canby Current estimates this box at between 80 to 100 years old.
“Old blasting caps can be very volatile and may explode with little agitation,” the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter.
The box was found on a shelf decorated with other vintage bottles and packages, including a box of “Liv-Ver-Lax,” a purgative cleanser (i.e., laxative) marketed in the 1910s as a safe alternative to Calomel.
Since Calomel was a mercury chloride, which commonly led to life-threatening mercury poisoning, deformities and even death, it was not exactly hard to be safer. Calomel was a popular medicine used during the Victorian period and was widely used as a treatment for a variety of ailments during the American Civil War until its harmful effects became known.
According to a 1914 newspaper ad we found at the Library of Congress, Liv-Ver-Lax was billed as “a harmless vegetable compound, designed solely for the treatment of liver complaints.”
“The immediate favor it has met within thousands of homes is proof positive of its real value,” the ad said. If you feel worn out, tongue coated, and skin sallow, don’t delay until it becomes dangerous, nip the trouble in the bud with Liv-Ver-Lax.”
The sheriff’s office did not report whether actual blasting caps were still present in the antique package, but said they were glad to get the call. Like a 19th-century Civil War soldier prescribed Calomel for cramps — it’s better safe than sorry.
Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!