Today’s advert is rather long. The Mr Abernethy referred to was the eminent surgeon John Abernethy (1764-1831), pictured right. He wrote about piles in his Surgical Observations (1804-06), a work that according to his biographer, George MacIlwain, was known as “the My-Book” because “he not unfrequently recommended his patients” to read it.
Although Abernethy advised patients with a mild case of piles to “anoint the protruded parts with ointment, and carefully replace them above the gripe of the sphincter,” he did not give a recipe for any particular ointment and generally advocated a more aggressive approach to treatment. “The piles”, he wrote “should be taken hold of by a double hook, of a breadth corresponding to the length of the pile, and when drawn upwards from the bowel, it may be removed by a pair of scissars.”
The ointment began to be advertised more than a decade after Abernethy’s death, and it seems likely that the mysterious “Proprietor” appropriated his good name to make the product sound reputable.
AN EFFECTUAL CURE FOR PILES, FISTULAS, &c.
ABERNETHY’S PILE OINTMENT
WHAT a painful and noxious disease is the Piles! and comparatively how few of the afflicted have been permanently cured by ordinary appeals to Medical skill! This, no doubt, arises from the use of powerful aperients too frequently administered by the Profession; indeed, strong internal medicine should always be avoided in all cases of this complaint. The Proprietor of the above Ointment, after years of acute suffering, placed himself under the treatment of that eminent surgeon, Mr. Abernethy, was by him restored to perfect health, and has enjoyed it ever since without the slightest return of the Disorder, over a period of fifteen years, during which time the same Abernethian Prescription has been the means of healing a vast number of desperate cases, both in and out of the Proprietor’s circles of friends, most of which cases had been under medical care, and some of them for a very considerable time. Abernethy’s Pile Ointment was introduced to the Public by the desire of many who had been perfectly healed by its application, and since its introduction, the fame of this ointment has spread far and wide; even the Medical Profession, always slow and unwilling to acknowledge the virtues of any medicine not prepared by themselves, do now freely and frankly admit that Abernethy’s Pile Ointment, is not not only a valuable preparation, but a never-failing remedy in every stage and variety of that appalling malady.
Sufferers from the Piles will not repent giving the Ointment a trial. Multitudes of cases of its efficacy might be produced, if the nature of the complaint did not render those who have been cured, unwilling to publish their names.
Sold in covered pots, at 4s. 6d., or the quantity of three 4s. 6d. pots in one for 11s., with full directions for use, by C. KING (Agent to the Proprietor), No. 34, Napier-street, Hoxton New Town, London, where also can be procured every Patent Medicine of repute, direct from the original makers, with an allowance on taking six at a time.
*** Be sure to ask for ‘ABERNETHY’S PILE OINTMENT.’ The public are requested to be on their guard against noxious compositions, sold at low prices, and to observe that none can possibly be genuine, unless the name of KING is printed on the Government Stamp affixed to each pot, 4s. 6d., which is the lowest price the proprietor is enabled to sell it at, owing to the great expense of the ingredients.
Source: The Northern Star and National Trades’ Journal, Saturday 4th March, 1848.