Radium Water Jars (late 1920s, early 1930s)
The purpose of these ceramic “Radium Water” jars, like that of the other jars in the collection, was to add radioactivity (radon) to drinking water.
These particular jars were sold (ca. 1926-1932) by Radium Health Products of Canada, located at 120 Danforth Avenue in Toronto.
The source of the radioactivity was the "Hammer Radium Activator" (photo below left) which was probably manufactured by mixing uranium ore with cement - I doubt that purified radium would have been used. This type of activator (aka emanator) would normally have been kept inside the jar, but it was not unusual for the activator and the jar to become separated.
The activators might have been obtained directly from the Hammer Radium Company in Denver, but they were more likely to have been purchased from Radium Health Products of Royal Oak, Michigan. The jar itself was probably obtained locally (i.e., in Toronto). Adding the label was a simple matter.
Information about the Hammer Radium Company (and Raymond Hammer) can be found in the description of the collection's Hammer Spinthariscope.
As you can tell from the photo above, a paper label on a water jar is not a good idea - only portions of the letters "ER" remain. On the jar shown below, the improved model, the label was replaced with stenciled text.
For what it is worth, another jar in the collection, the Torbena Jar, also had two versions: one with a paper label and the other with a stenciled label.
Size: Jar, ca. 9" tall and 7" diameter
Exposure Rate: ca. 14 uR/hr at one foot
Unfortunately, when I obtained the one gallon jar to the left, both the lid and the activator were missing.
Size: ca. 9" tall and 7" diameter
Donated by the Illinois Department of Nuclear Safety, courtesy of Sheryl Soderdahl.
There is another jar in the collection that was likely made by Radium Health Products of Canada. Since there is some uncertainty about that, the jar is described separately. You can check it out here.
Radium Health Products of Canada
My guess is that Radium Health Products of Canada was the Canadian distributor for Radium Health Products, a U.S. based company. More specifically, the latter was located at 122 West Fourth Street in Royal Oak, Michigan.
Their names form the most obvious link between the two companies.
Another clue for a connection between the two is the fact that the U.S. based Radium Health Products seems to have operated in a limited geographical region. Their only U.S. distributor that I know of was in Buffalo. Furthermore, all the testimonial letters in a company flyer (Radium is Not a Drug) gave addresses in Michigan or Ontario.
The product lines of the two companies also overlapped. The first items mentioned in a Radium Health Products flyer were Radium Water, Radium Pads and Radium Baths, while those mentioned in a Radium Health Products of Canada classified ad were “Radium Water Jars, Health Pads and Bath Compound, etc.” Finally, both companies had links to the Hammer Radium Company. For example, Radium Health Products of Canada employed the Hammer Activator in their Radium Water jars, while Radium Health Products (in Michigan) sold Radiumar Ointment, a Hammer Radium Company product.
The earliest reference I have for the company is an advertisement from 1928 (Brandon Daily Sun. Aug. 20, 1928).
Looking for Distributors
Radium Health Products and Radium Health Products of Canada sold directly to the public, but they also employed distributors.
The following classified ad was placed by such a Radium Health Products distributor in Buffalo (Popular Mechanics. Sept. 1926).
The next ad was placed by Radium Health Products of Canada who were trying to expand their business outside of Ontario (Winnipeg Free Press. Sept. 23, 1929).
Radium Health Products (Michigan) Products
I have managed to identify the following items as being sold by Radium Health Products. There were probably others.
At least some of these were produced by Hammer Radium Laboratories of Denver.
The following quotes explain the action of the Radium Water:
The Radium Health Products Company of Portland
As their name indicates, the Radium Health Products Company of Portland, Oregon called themselves a company, something Radium Health Products of Michigan and Radium Health Products of Canada didn’t do. The address in Portland was 211 Broadway.
There might have been a connection between these different business operations, but the fact that they were on opposite sides of the country would suggest otherwise. The references I have to the Radium Health Products Company are from 1925-1926, and the only product that I know they sold was the Revigator (Evening Herald. Feb. 17, 1925; Albany Democrat-Herald. Sept. 10, 1925; Northwest J. Dent. Vol. 14. 1926)
Jordan, S. The Real Thing. Canadian Bottle and Stoneware Collector 20. April, 1997.