In 1996, at a junk store in Fiddletown, California, i came upon two unused labels for hoodoo curios manufactured by the Lucky Mon-Gol Company of Memphis, Tennessee. The label shown here is for Lucky Mon-Gol Curio Number XI, a combination of powdered incense containing several traditional hoodoo formulae, namely Holy Oil, Be Together Powder, and Love Me Powder. The ingredients indicate that the product was a form of scented incense powder designed to purify and then bring love to the user. The fact that the package design includes a lucky swastika dates it to the era before World War Two. The Lucky Mon-Gol Company was a very short-lived company that arose after the break-up of the partnership between the families of Morris Shapiro and Joseph Menke of the Lucky Heart Cosmetics Company, and eventually led to the founding of the Clover Horn Company by Marcus Menke in Baltimore, Maryland.
The images shown on the label for Curio Number XI are typical African-American good luck symbols of the 1930s: a black cat, rabbit foot, four-leaf clover, horseshoe, swastika, moon, the Helping Hand, and twin hearts pierced by an arrow.
The lucky numbers 7-22 also appear among the lucky symbols. Seven is a common lucky number, and coupled with 22 (twice 11, the Curio's number), it doubtless conveys a meaning related to the intended use of Curio Number XI. Since 7-11 is a lucky gambling combination and the black cat is considered to bring luck to gamblers, it may be that the 7-22 on the label of Curio Number X1 represented "double luck" for gamblers. The precise meaning could probably have been interpreted via a contemporary volume such as Aunt Sally's Policy Player's Dream Book, which gives lucky betting numbers for various dream images but can also be used backwards to supply images via number-code.
"Curio" was -- and still is -- a hoodoo mail-order catalogue code-word used to designate magical and spiritual anointing oils, roots, sachet powders, herbs, conjure bags, and amulets. The term is intended as a disclaimer to forestall prosecution for mail fraud. The Lucky Mon-Gol Company was not the only hoodoo supply company of the 1930s that numbered its "curios" rather than naming them; the Hussey Distribution Company of Atlanta, Georgia, also followed this practice, with its line of "Fine Curio Products," which included "Curio #3 Highest Quality Alleged Inflammatory Confusion Brand Incense" and "Husco Curio No. 61 Alleged Money Drawing Brand Incense."
Modern factory-based hoodoo suppliers such as E. Davis, Indio, and the Lama Temple are less likely to incorporate the word "curio" in product names, but they still remove the taint of implied fraud by inserting the words "Alleged" and "Brand" somewhere in the title to make it seem as if the name were just a coincidence and had no relation to the item's reason for existence. My own Lucky Mojo Curio Co. proudly flaunts the old-fashioned name "curio," which is in line with my policy of providing old-fashioned quality.
Modern equivalents of the purifying and love-drawing ingredients in Lucky Mon-Gol Curio Number XI are still in commerce. For instance, one can purchase Dr Pryor's Alleged 7 Holy Spirit Hyssop Brand Bath Oil (manufactured by the Lama Temple of Chicago, Illinois) and Love Me FLoor Wash (Powerful Indian House Blessing Brand). And, of course, the Lucky Mojo Curio Co. manufactures and sells such products as Love Me, Kiss Me Now!, Come to Me, and 7-11 Holy Type spiritual supplies via an online catalogue.
Further text and illustrations demonstrating the inter-relationship between cosmetics companies and the manufacturers of hoodoo and conjure spiritual supplies during the pre-World-War-Two era can be found on these "Hoodoo in Theory and Practice" pages by cat yronwode:
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