A pleasant time and a pleasant tomorrow

  We all have those Facebook friends - you know, the ones who make it clear what a wild, fun and edgy life they lead by announcing that they're, like, sooooo hungover lol. Well, perhaps...

An ulcer as big as a hen-egg

Patient testimonials were (and indeed remain) an integral part of the promotion of non-evidence-based health products. While 19th-century newspaper advertising only had room for concise endorsements, promotional books and pamphlets allowed medicine proprietors to...

Wonder-workers and styptics

When your Magic Chicken is suffering from cholera, there's no need to panic. This bottle for the Magic Chicken Cholera Cure is one of around 195 medicine bottles in the collection of Michael Till,...

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...

Lazy salesmen and popular bachelors

The life of a travelling salesman in the early 20th century US might have involved stuffy railway carriages, soulless hotels and rejection by jaded druggists, but that doesn't mean there were no lighter moments. The reports of...

Don’t be gulled by misleading advertisements

This 20-page booklet from about 1927 appears at first glance to be an official publication intended to raise public awareness of the 'preposterous claims concerning so-called “patent” medicines, which are a disgrace to any...

A nameless tramp’s discovery

Deep in the piney woods of Louisiana there grow certain herbs. Clean, fresh, green little herbs they are, redolent with the smell of the pines and of the wholesome earth that has given them...

Armbrecht’s Coca Wine

Between now and Christmas (and probably beyond) I'll be taking a different tack with the Quack Doctor and posting more frequently but more briefly, showing just pics of medical adverts, snippets about strange cases,...

Guest Post – Dickens, Holloway and product placement

. I'm pleased to welcome guest blogger Leslie Katz, who has investigated whether Charles Dickens was approached to promote the famous Holloway's Pills in one of his novels. . For many years during the nineteenth century, the...

Valentine’s Meat-Juice

  The Quack Doctor is not a hearts and flowers kind of person, so was interested to learn of a dark side to this product's history. Brought into production in Richmond, VA, in 1871, Valentine's Meat-Juice...