There’s nothing in this world like a bona-fide pulverized meat-juice! What’d I say? Meat-juice! What’s it called? Meat-juice! That’s right! Meat-juice!
Apologies to the Simpsons aside, have you ever wondered what 4 pounds of beef pulverized, pressed, and heated at low temperatures down to a 4 ounce bottle of liquid would taste like? If you were alive between 1871 and 1957 and living in RVA (Richmond as they called it) you could have easily found out!
Valentine’s Meat-Juice was the brain child of Richmond resident Mann S. Valentine II in a successful effort to restore his wife to good health. The magical elixir, which promised to restore vigor and strength, quickly made the Valentine family quite wealthy. The elixir was even consumed by President Garfield in 1881 after surviving an assassination attempt. When combined with milk, brandy, salt, and sterilized water it also made an excellent enema! Exciting!
The larger point here is that Valentine’s Meat-Juice afforded the Mann and his family (he had 10 kids!) with enough income to acquire a huge collection of archaeological treasures and art and to put them on display in the 1812 John Wickham House. This museum, now known as The Valentine, is still in operation today and houses both the extensive collection from Valentine’s time in the beautifully restored house and a collection of all things Richmond in the much newer wing. Here are some of my favorite highlights:
Take the tour of the John Wickham house while you are there. John Wickham was a noted lawyer who defended Vice President Aaron Burr during his trial for treason and lived in the house with his wife and 19 children! The house was designed by the same architect (Alexander Parris) who designed the Governor’s Executive Mansion and a whole host of other buildings. The John Wickham House cost more because of the insanely elaborate work and rounded everything. The ellipse was the jump off point and was continued throughout the house, especially in the central spiral staircase.
After the tour head out back and check out the sculpture studio of Mann’s brother, Edward Virginius. I especially like the audio of letters between him and his brother. “Please send me my clay and this giant laundry list of tools so I can model someone!” “Here’s your rubbish, now do something that would actually make some money you hippie.”
Then head back inside to see just how Richmond stuff can get.
Check out their website at http://thevalentine.org/ for hours and admissions. Bonus: They have an extensive online collection that is fun to browse too!