A devil of a cure

One must always be grateful for small mercies. When a giant jazz-hands Satan is trampling amok on your planet of residence, you can at least gain comfort from the fact he has kept his underpants on. This depiction of Old Nick was registered as a trademark in 1915 by the …

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Merchant’s Gargling Oil

ADvent Calendar Day 14 If people evolved from apes, why are apes still selling Gargling Oil? Ask this fellow, taking a break from evading sasquatch hunters to advise punters that Merchant’s liniment is good for both man and beast. It was mainly an external remedy for bruises, wounds, skin diseases, …

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How to grow tall

ADvent Calendar Day 11 Rochester, NY, might ring a bell for attentive followers of this calendar, as it made an appearance on Day 8 as the location of the New York Institute of Science. That it was home to another dodgy organisation is no coincidence. Thomas Adkin, the Institute’s President, …

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Smedley’s Chillie Paste

ADvent Calendar Day 9 Smedley’s Chillie Paste was for topical application only, but if you should be tempted to swallow a spoonful of this capsicum-based rub, you would probably be able to cure yourself of a head cold… or of owning a head altogether. According to adverts from the 1870s, …

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Poison. To be applied night and morning.

I have some wonderful pictures to share with you today thanks to collector Rex Barber from Perth, Western Australia, who owns several hundred 18th – 20th century proprietary remedy lids. Rex has exhibited his collection as far afield as the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors’ 2012 show in Reno, NV. …

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Anti-Stiff – strengthens the muscles

  Anti-Stiff – a name contrary to the philosophy of today’s email spammers – appears to have been a boon to the athletes of the 1890s. It was a muscle rub intended to ward off aches and fatigue during a variety of sporting endeavours, and its promoter claimed that ‘some …

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To Short Persons

TO SHORT PERSONS.——Anyone (Male or Female) wishing to increase in Height and Symmetry of Figure, by means of a remarkable physiological discovery, may send a stamped directed envelope to Captain F. STAFFORD (U.S.). 1, Church-terrace, Kentish Town, London, N.W. The Penny Illustrated Post, 15 October 1870 —————————————————————————– Some advertisements might …

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Tuna – a vegetable compound

There’s often something a bit fishy about patent remedies, but this one appeared before the advent of canned tuna and, for the average non-sea-going punter, the name did not have the piscatorial associations it has now. A company called Fels and Davis began promoting it in 1879, but by the following …

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Gamjee’s Oriental Salve

During the next couple of weeks I’m featuring some of the ads that have slipped through the net – either I can’t find out much about them, or I’ve already written about something similar. The brief British season of thinking it might be nice to play tennis is now coming …

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Barrett’s Mandrake Embrocation

BARRETT’S Mandrake EMBROCATION CURES {HEADACHE! EARACHE! TOOTHACHE!} INSTANTLY. Unequalled for Sprains, Bruises, Overstraining of the Muscles, Cramp, Rheumatism, Sciatica, Lumbago, Gout, Neuralgia, Chilblains, Bronchitis. To be had retail of all Chemists, 1s. 1½d., 2s. 9d., and 4s. 6d., postage 3d. extra ; or direct from the Sole Proprietor, JOSHUA BARRETT, …

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