Friday, December 17, 2004

Llewellyn George, Patent Medicine, and Pagan Publishing

In 1993, when I was editing the Witchcraft Today series for Llewellyn Publications, I few up to Minnesota to spend a couple of days conferring with Carl and Sandra Weschcke, who own the company.

Driving me around St. Paul in his black Cadillac, Carl told me the story of how he came from a German family heavy with doctors and pharmacists, inheriting a company that made cough lozenges and other over-the-counter medicines. In the 1960s, however, he took a different turn, buying a tiny astrological publishing firm founded by astrologer Llewellyn George (1876-1954). He even legally changed his own middle name to Llewellyn in homage.

Llewellyn Publications is still in St. Paul. It publishes (in short runs) more books on contemporary Paganism, astrology, ceremonial magic, and other such topic than any other firm, although the quality is sometimes uneven.

So much for the astrology connection. But there is also a patent (OTC) medicine connection: Llewellyn George was in that business also, as the journalist and critic H.L. Mencken noted in one of his "Free Lance" columns almost ninety years ago. I have put Mencken's full text here.

UPDATE: Llewellyn now plans to move to suburban Woodbury, Minn., and the old Coca-Cola bottling plant that has served as office/warehouse will become part of some waterfront re-development.


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