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 Youtube channel for regular history videos, and follow him on Twitter at @GroovyHistorian

Happy Christmas!

Burdock Blood Bitters, late 19thC

ADvent Calendar Day 24 I hope you’ve enjoyed the daily posts during December – I’ve had fun compiling them! I leave you with a festive late-19th century trade card for Burdock Blood Bitters or ‘B.B.B.’ This famous tonic, which was around 20% alcohol, was advertised as the solution to numerous …

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For the blood is the life

The Quack Doctor is currently providing Victorian remedies for Sky Living’s online newspaper, The Inquisitor, which accompanies the channel’s new ten-part drama, Dracula. If you are visiting the site for the first time via sky.com, welcome!   ‘For the blood is the life’: the evocative quotation appears in the very …

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Munyon is ready…

Would you buy a homeopathic remedy from this man? Source: The Morning Times (Washington D.C.) 13 December 1896 James Monroe Munyon’s pompadour hairstyle was a familiar feature of American newspapers around the turn of the 20th century. Having tried his hand at teaching, law, social work, publishing and song-writing, he …

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Swaim's Panacea – part 2

For part 1 about Swaim’s Panacea, click here. Within a few years of establishing his products, William Swaim was enjoying the benefits of endorsements from some of Philadelphia’s most eminent physicians, including Nathaniel Chapman, William Gibson, William Pott Dewees, Thomas Parke and James Mease – and he didn’t even have …

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Swaim's Panacea – part 1

SWAIM’S PANACEA.—This Medicine has acquired a very extensive and established celebrity in Europe and America, and its virtues are known and acknowledged by many of the most respectable physicians of both countries. As an alterative, and in various diseases, particularly in cases of inveterate corruption of the blood descending to …

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Dr Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People

Here’s another big-business remedy, this time originating in Canada. “Dr Williams” was a brand name, and the pills were manufactured by George T. Fulford of Brockville, Ontario. Born in 1852, Fulford went into the patent medicine business in 1886 and four years later bought the rights to the Pink Pills recipe from Dr William …

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Hood's Sarsaparilla

Hood’s Sarsaparilla was big business in the late 19th and early 20th centuries – you can get an idea how big from this picture of the Massachusetts laboratory. Adverts for it were everywhere, and there were also spin-off products such as calendars and cookbooks. GOOD BLOOD GOOD BLOOD Is essential …

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Monteet's Infallible Medicines

Monteet’s Medicines weren’t among the more famous of 19th-century remedies. The proprietor, R. Hodgson, advertised them quite heavily in the Northern Echo for a few months in 1880-81, but after that they disappear. There is no way to tell whether the various mixtures were all pretty much the same, but it wouldn’t …

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The Vital Regenerator

Balsam of Mecca was a prized substance in Arabian medicine and cosmetics, but it was very difficult to get hold of the real thing in Europe in the 19th century. The true balsam – a resin from the shrub then known as Balsamodendron Opobalsamum (now more commonly Commiphora gileadensis) – was …

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