Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases/Lawrence Mocha/Theresa L.

Posted in ephemera, History, Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 23/06/2014

There is a very interesting article in today’s Finger Lakes Times.  Here is the link.  It brings up the whole issue of names and honoring those who lived and worked at Willard, and is well worth the read.

I shot Theresa’s case recently and it contained some interesting articles.  If anyone out there can tell me for what “Banana Liquid” was used, I’ll send you a postcard.  Reply in comments and I will get in touch and ask for a mailing address.

16 Responses

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  1. JackieP said, on 23/06/2014 at 8:32 pm

    I believe Banana Liquid is the same as Banana Oil which is a term that is applied either to pure isoamyl acetate or to flavorings that are mixtures of isoamyl acetate, amyl acetate, and other flavors.It was used as food flavoring, I have even heard you could flavor cigarettes with it….

  2. Doris Molina said, on 23/06/2014 at 8:48 pm

    I was interested in the manufacturer, and googled Blue Ribbon to no avail. But I found some information related to L. Hemmerdinger & Company, found some Private Inspector records from 1901, but that is as far as I was able to get.

  3. Janis Dority said, on 23/06/2014 at 9:05 pm

    Yes, it is a food flavor extract. Made in the US in New York then sometime in the 1930s they were entirely based in the UK. Here is a link to an etsy page with Blue Ribbon extracts and food colors as well as spices, kind of the Watkins of the UK!

    Also I really love the work you are doing with these suitcases, sharing and preserving the memory of those who lived there

  4. Keren Holdridge said, on 23/06/2014 at 9:10 pm

    The company Blue Ribbon or L. Hemmerdinger that makes this banana liquid is a company that has been around since 1900. They make products that are used as protectants for things like cars, leather goods and other items. My best guess is that this was some sort of protectant that may have been used for the suitcase the banana liquid was found in.

  5. uberrhund said, on 23/06/2014 at 9:11 pm

    Yes, Blue Ribbon made food extracts for flavoring in New York through the mid-1930s then they were entirely based in the UK . They made extracts like this banana and colors for food as well as spices. The UK version of Watkins! Here is a link to esty with a page of vintage Blue Ribbon food flavorings and colors, no banana alas…
    Also I love the work you are doing with the Willard suitcases, preserving the memories they hold for those who lived there.

  6. Mark said, on 23/06/2014 at 9:33 pm

    A quote from “American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record, Volumes 40-41” Dated 1902
    “pores heavy gold applied French flake bronze powder mixed with pyroxylon varnish or what the painters call banana liquid which is a solution of a gum in amyl acetate”


    • joncrispin said, on 24/06/2014 at 7:48 pm

      Ladies and Gentleman, we have a winner. Mark seems to have nailed it.

  7. Maureen said, on 23/06/2014 at 11:33 pm

    I am guessing it is merely flavoring agent, maybe to help mask the flavor of that yummy food.

    • Mark said, on 24/06/2014 at 6:56 am

      If you research all patent information for “L Hemmerdinger” all his products, including the Blue Ribbon brand are all paint thinners, reducers, varnishes, etc.

  8. Sarah said, on 24/06/2014 at 7:40 am

    Interesting! Given that it is next to the jar of gold stuff it almost has to be used for gilding like the link above says, wouldn’t you think?

  9. Tania M said, on 24/06/2014 at 10:41 am

    Given what I found seems to match Mark’s quote and link shows. It’s very interesting what you find in the cases.

  10. lsstuhler said, on 15/07/2014 at 9:48 am

    Hi Jon, You and your blog followers may be interested in signing this petition. Have a great day!! -Lin

    • joncrispin said, on 15/07/2014 at 3:24 pm

      Lin, thanks for this. I’ll post it on my blog. Glad to see you are still working on this. I really appreciate it.


  11. […] there is some interesting action going on in regards to the cemetery which I posted about before.  Here is a link to an online petition that is trying to memorialize Lawrence […]

  12. leamuse said, on 26/09/2014 at 10:10 am

    Banana Liquid is a food extract and used in baking and other food prep.

  13. B Swinney said, on 28/09/2014 at 11:54 am

    Very interesting research…I will have to check out all the links…certainly stirred my interest! Love the photos of the suitcases and contents. Thank you for sharing!

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