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

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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Pockey Warts, Buboes and Shankers

As the old saying goes, ‘A night with Venus, a lifetime with Mercury,’ and Dr Newman’s Anti-Venereal Pills were just one of a plethora of clap and pox remedies advertised in 18th-century newspapers. The relatively anonymous purchase of a pea-sized bolus offered the customer a level of secrecy, but that …

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Dr Hammond and his Electric, Curative & Phosphoric Vitalizer

Source: The North Wales Chronicle 18 April 1868 In a series of letters to the Medical Circular in the 1860s, Francis Burdett Courtenay, under the pseudonym ‘Detector’, exposed the villainous practices of a breed of quacks preying on men who suspected they had spermatorrhea. Spermatorrhea (an excessive discharge of semen) …

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Gordon’s Vital Sexualine Restorative

STRENGTH, VITALITY, MANHOOD. ­A Valuable Treatise on Nervous Exhaustion, Loss of Strength, Mental Depression, Exhausted Vitality, and all special diseases and weaknesses of man; their causes, and means of cure. This book not only contains valuable remarks on how to preserve strength and retain the powers to an advanced age, …

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The Famous Montpellier Venereal Little Bolus

Source: The General Advertiser, 6 March 1744. Click here for transcript. I wonder if this advert looks familiar to regular readers. The writing style and capitalisation, and even the medicine’s name, are reminiscent of Mr. Burchell’s Famous Little Sugar Plums, and here again we see a proprietor tempting punters with …

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The Cordial Balm of Rakasiri – part 2

For part 1 of this article, click here. There’s also a transcript of an 1818 Rakasiri advert here. In 1828, a ‘nervous young man’ who had wasted more than 10l. on the Cordial Balm of Rakasiri went to a magistrate and succeeded in getting his money back. During the proceedings, …

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The Cordial Balm of Rakasiri – part 1

Source: The Morning Chronicle, Saturday 12 December 1818. For transcript, click here. On this site I include anything medical or surgical provided it was advertised, so not all the remedies were considered quackery in their time. Some were endorsed and prescribed by reputable doctors, and many were no worse than …

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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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