When but a boy I took great delight in gathering and keeping the flowers, seeds and roots of various herbs. One of my favourite herbs was the native yam, the roots of which I then did eat, thinking that by so doing I should soon become a man."- James A. Gear, Ballarat and District 1901.
So began the career of James A. Gear, Herbalist and Botanist "discoverer of the great herbal cure 'WONDERINE'. Look up and you can see the sign for Gear's store.
Born in England in 1867, James was one of the many herbalists, chemists and druggists who treated the sick, injured and ailing in Ballarat in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1901 when describing his training he recalled buying herbal remedies from a young age and studying their properties and anatomy "for the purpose of getting a complete description and cause of disease." Ballarat and District 1901.
James Gear's most well known concoction was his "Wonderine" tonic which he created as a treatment for patients. 'Wonderine' was marketed as a cure for a long list of ailments including - headache, indigestion, bad breath, piles rheumatism, sleeplessness, liver and kidney troubles and of course the dubious "female complaints". Ballarat and District 1901.
Being a herbalist could sometimes be a hazard! In 1902 at his premises in Humffray Street South, James Gear was seriously injured while preparing medicines. He was severely burnt, losing his eyebrows, moustache and some of his hair when some methylated spirits suddenly ignited, setting fire to the shop.