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Coca Wine : Angelo Mariani's Miraculous Elixir and the Birth of Modern Advertising
Park Street Press

Coca Wine : Angelo Mariani's Miraculous Elixir and the Birth of Modern Advertising

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Coca Wine
Author(s): Aymon de Lestrange

A lavishly illustrated history of coca wine and the revolutionary advertising methods that made it a world-wide success

• Follows 19th-century pharmacist Angelo Mariani’s interest in coca from medical uses to the development and healing effects of his world-famous coca wine, Vin Mariani

• Explores the botany of coca, how it differs from cocaine, its traditional uses, and early scientific studies on coca from doctors, including Sigmund Freud

• Examines Mariani’s highly successful international advertising campaigns, the first to use celebrity endorsements, including testimonies from Pope Benedict XV, Sarah Bernhardt, Thomas Edison, Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, William McKinley, Emile Zola, and Alphonse Mucha

One of the oldest and most potent natural stimulants, the leaves of the coca plant are the organic source from which cocaine is synthesized. Fresh coca leaves and products made from them have verified medicinal and healing properties--and not the same addictive qualities or negative side effects as cocaine. In the late 19th century coca products became hugely successful in Europe and the United States. The most famous was Vin Mariani, a coca-based tonic wine developed by Corsican pharmacist Angelo Mariani (1838-1914). Many celebrities sang its praises, including Pope Benedict XV, Sarah Bernhardt, Thomas Edison, H. G. Wells, William McKinley, Emile Zola, and the doctors of Ulysses S. Grant, who credited Vin Mariani with giving him the strength to finish his memoirs before his death.

In this full-color illustrated history of coca wine, the first of its kind, author Aymon de Lestrange follows Mariani’s interest in coca from its medicinal applications to the creation of the tonic wine. The author explores the botany of coca, how it differs from cocaine, its traditional use in pre-Columbian America, and scientific studies on coca from the 17th through 19th centuries, including from Sigmund Freud, who was a known user. He describes the introduction of coca in the U.S. and France and the many coca preparations then available at drugstores. He also studies the introduction of cocaine in these two countries and the prohibition laws that followed.

Aymon de Lestrange demonstrates how Mariani became, in many ways, the father of modern advertising with his highly successful advertising campaigns. He includes vivid reproductions of Mariani’s advertisements, many not seen since their original publication in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and shows how Mariani commissioned the top writers and artists of the day, such as Jules Chéret and Alphonse Mucha, to produce works celebrating coca wine. The author reveals how Vin Mariani was the forerunner of Coca-Cola, which clearly plagiarized not only Mariani’s product but also his advertising methods.

Looking to the future of coca, the author shows how it has gained renewed interest in the scientific community for its therapeutic and nutritional properties and in the spiritual community, which is seeking to rehabilitate the reputation of coca, the sacred plant of the Incas.

“A long-overdue, lavishly illustrated historical tribute to Vin Mariani, the coca-infused wine invented by Angelo Mariani in the late 19th century. It was once one of the world’s best-known and best-advertised products, endorsed by popes, queens, presidents, actresses, singers, and just about anyone who was anyone. Yes, it contained a small amount of cocaine, but it was only when that drug was isolated as a concentrated white powder that it derived its evil reputation. In the meantime, it inspired (indirectly) Coca-Cola, which unfortunately added a great deal of sugar, though it still contained decocainized coca leaf extract.”
“Historians have long noted the role of Angelo Mariani’s pioneering 19th-century beverage, Vin Mariani, in the history of coca and cocaine but yearned for a well-researched biography. This is finally it! Aymon de Lestrange’s exhaustive reach and the many beautiful and lavish illustrations--many new discoveries--are alone a treasure. The chapter on Mariani’s laboratory and its fascinating products is a rich contribution to knowledge. And Coca Wine is so timely: as failing drug prohibitions come into doubt across the globe, we need to know more about the positive cultural roles played by benign coca health products like Vin Mariani, which, like absinthe, may one day soon revive!”
“Aficionados of the divine plant of the Incas in both its natural (coca) and synthetic (cocaine) forms will be fascinated to learn this time-honored (if sometimes reviled) intoxicant was once marketed as a tonic beverage--a fine Bordeaux with a kick--that made the cultured classes across Western Europe and the U.S. acclaim the superiority of Mariani’s Coca Wine for both its medicinal and inspirational qualities and unleash a host of competitors, including one enterprising American druggist in Atlanta. Aymon de Lestrange has written the definitive study of this all-but-forgotten recreational beverage, enhanced by exquisite color reproductions of the work of the artists and designers for whom the wine inspired a style that stimulates our senses as much today as it did for our ancestors.”
"Impressively informed and informative, beautifully illustrated throughout, notably comprehensive, exceptionally well written, organized and presented for both academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, Coca Wine: Angelo Mariani's Miraculous Elixir and the Birth of Modern Advertising is a unique, extraordinary, and highly recommended addition to community, college, and university library collections."
"Coca Wine is beautifully designed with color images throughout, including advertisements, product packaging, period art, and portraits. The story is engrossing enough for the general reader and an easy read, but meticulously documented for the scholar. It is an important contribution to the histories of advertising, food and beverages, and drugs, and serves as an in-depth complement to Mark Pendergrast’s For God, Country and Coca-Cola (CH, Oct'93, 31-1032) and Paul Gootenberg’s Cocaine: Global Histories (Routledge, 1999). Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers."
"With considerable evidence, Lestrange argues that Mariani’s enterprise was of singular importance in facilitating the entrance of Andean coca into European and North American consumer culture and into the stream of global commerce. Though unabashedly iconographic, inclined toward a “great man” account of history, and lean on analysis, Lestrange’s biography of Mariani is engaging and full of original, often surprising new research that includes a rich array of visual sources...specialists will find much of interest in Lestrange’s research into a critical conjuncture in the evolution of global coca cultures. Non-specialists will enjoy the author’s absorbing and colorful exposition of a fascinating subject."
"This is a very informative and easy to read book. It provides a history of coca, cocaine, product advertising and the man who produced what was to become, in its time, the world’s most famous medicine. The lavish illustrations are of a very high quality, and there is hardly a page that does not possess one. This is a book for all those with an interest in the history of pharmacy."
"Written for a broad audience, Lestrange’s work provides a fascinating foray into belle-époque coca culture as part of a larger cultural field. While scholars would do well to turn to some of Lestrange’s secondary sources (David Smith, Elizabeth Emery) for more theoretically grounded discussions of vin Mariani’s place in belle-époque France and turn-of-the-century United States, Coca Wine provides a richly documented and evocative case study that cultural historians will find useful."

ISBN:  9781620557846