Failure of ‘606’

ADvent Calendar Day 20 This 1915 advertisement is perhaps not as wacky as some of the products I’ve featured this month, but I find it interesting because it names neither the medicine nor the disease it aims to cure! The mentions of ‘blood poison’, ‘Mercury and Potash treatment’ and ‘606’, …

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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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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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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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Sequah – a Victorian Celebrity Quack

Source: The Graphic 11 July 1891 . From the moment of his sudden rise to fame in Portsmouth in 1887, Sequah knew how to win friends and influence people. He built up an almost cult-like following by giving the crowds what they wanted – miraculous cures, affordable medicines, and a lot …

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A miraculous change right away quick

Last October I blogged about the Magic Foot Drafts, a remedy for rheumatism that required the patient to stick pine-tar-coated oilcloth plasters to the soles of their feet. This was supposed to draw out uric acid through the pores, but as Samuel Hopkins Adams said in The Great American Fraud, …

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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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The Poor Man’s Friend

Source: Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post, 20 July 1826 In 2003, the Daily Mail ran a story titled: Beeswax is ‘miracle’ cure. The article referred to an 18th/19th-century ointment called The Poor Man’s Friend, a popular remedy for wounds and skin conditions. The reason it hit the 21st-century press was that its …

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The ‘Instra’ Warmer

Source: The Sporting Times, 28 January 1899. Although this product isn’t solely medical, its advertising did claim that it could prevent chills, colds, rheumatism and lumbago, and alleviate toothache, neuralgia and sciatica. Whether or not it could effectively combat these ailments is doubtful, but it nevertheless sounds like a useful …

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Omega Oil

  The Omega Oil company, which had London and US branches, had its work cut out to get the product noticed among pages of attractive pictorial adverts. But get noticed they did. The constant flow of new designs together with the unique selling point – It’s green – helped create …

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