Vodcast: The Great Pox in Early Modern Europe

Fellow history blogger The Groovy Historian invited me to do a vodcast about syphilis. Here’s the result! You can sign up to The Groovy Historian’s...

Dr Wheeler and the Bacillus of Death

In May 1895, a low-key but intriguing advertisement appeared in British local newspapers. What could this ‘death microbe’ be? Did it refer to the lethal...

The bogus lady doctor

In a recent post for the British Newspaper Archive, I mentioned Maria Owen, who posed as a doctor in late Victorian Birmingham. Here’s some more...

The mysterious ‘Zep’ love potion

A rag, worn close to the heart, and steeped in a mystic substance imbued with the wisdom of the East. A flame, charring the edges...

‘Eat! Eat! Eat!’ Those notorious tapeworm diet pills

Peoria, Illinois, 1912: the horror begins. A society lady, encouraged by a friend’s success with an easy new weight-loss treatment, pays $25 for ‘two rather...
Welcome to our virtual collection of health advertising, fraudulent schemes and medical oddities of the past.

Medical histfic

Caroline Rance's novel, Kill Grief, a dark tale of gin, surgery and love in an 18th-century hospital, is out now for Kindle. Get it for just £1.99/$2.99!

Death Microbe

Reports in April 1895 claimed that a doctor in Chicago had discovered the secret to immortality.

Zep: a love potion

In 1930s Yorkshire, a clairvoyant used a magical substance called Zep to help women find husbands.

Fat or fiction?

The tapeworm diet is credited with a long history, but did our great-grandmothers really use parasites for weight loss?

Human X-Rays

In 1911, the Grant brothers of Maidstone claimed to be 'human x-rays', able to cure disease and even bring people back to life by the power of their minds.


Follow us on Twitter for more vintage ads, history of medicine links and weird things.