I’ve said before that I love working with Chilcotts Auctioneers – not just because they’re such nice people, but also because the stories they give me to work with are just magical in terms of PR.
Previously I’ve put together press stories on a whalebone that once belonged to explorer Ernest Shackleton, diaries written by a Japanese war camp internee, and a Chinese moonflask that sold for nearly £500K.
The ‘poison’ flagon
The most recent task was around a flagon that once contained a ‘cure-all’, quack medicine. This was nothing like the moonflask in value, being valued at a much more modest figure of £100, but the back story was just as interesting to research.
God bless the internet for giving me lots of resource to discover the truth behind William Radam’s ‘Microbe Killer’, invented in the late 19th century as a way to kill microbes in humans, thus defying many ailments – in theory. Although it was 99% water, the liquid also contained 0.59 sulphuric acid, 0.016 sulphurous acid and ash – and this was thought to have killed the grandfather of the vendor of the flagon, who had taken too much of it.
A great story in itself, but as usual Liz and Duncan Chilcott rose to the occasion magnificently when asked to pose for a photograph to accompany the press release. Liz cheerfully gave the pretence of wanting to poison her husband with a large ladle of the Microbe Killer – and of course, the press loved it.
The story was picked up by regional press, including Western Morning News (who gave me a byline, much appreciated), Express & Echo and the Midweek Herald. It also attracted a lot of interest on social media.
I always have a sense of anticipation when I go to my monthly meeting with Chilcotts – what fantastic story will they give me to PR this time?