RHEUMATISM
Cured
Through the Feet
Without Medicine

An external cure so sure that the
makers send it FREE ON APPROVAL.
Try it.

Send your name and address to the makers of Magic Foot Drafts, the great cure for every kind of rheumatism; Chronic or Acute, Muscular, Sciatic, Lumbago, Gout, etc., no matter where located or how severe. You’ll get a pair of the Drafts by return post—prepaid—free on approval.
Magic Foot Drafts are worn without inconvenience, and cure rheumatism in every part of the body by drawing out the poisonous acids in the blood through the great foot pores. You can see that this offer is proof of their merit, for hundreds of thousands of persons answer these advertisements, and only those who are satisfied with the benefit they receive send any money. Write to-day to the Magic Foot Draft Co., 43, Pugh’s Buildings, Pugh’s Place, Golden Square, London. W., for a trial pair, and be cured. A valuable illustrated book on rheumatism also sent free.
CAUTION. Magic Foot Drafts are prepared after the original formula only by us. Note carefully the address.

Source: The Penny Illustrated Paper and Illustrated Times Sat 7 May 1904

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Magic Foot Drafts 1903

Magic Foot Drafts originated in Jackson, Michigan in 1902 and quickly became established in London too. In case it’s not clear from the ad, they were large and very sticky plasters that you were supposed to put on the sole of your foot, where they would somehow (by magic, presumably) draw out uric acid through the skin. The plaster was made of oilcloth coated with a mixture of pine tar, cornmeal and poke-root. As Samuel Hopkins Adams said in The Great American Fraud (1905/6):

Of course, they might as well be affixed to the barn door, so far as any uric acid extraction is concerned.

Adams also gave his opinion on why some nostrum vendors allowed punters to take their products on a free trial:

Other concerns send their “remedies” free on trial, among these being the ludicrous “magic foot drafts” referred to above. At first thought it would seem that only a cure would bring profit to the makers. But the fact is that most diseases tend to cure themselves by natural means, and the delighted and deluded patient, ascribing the relief to the “remedy” which really has nothing to do with it, sends on his grateful dollar. Where the money is already paid, most people are too inert to undertake the effort of getting it back.

The British version of the Foot Drafts had different ingredients – powdered white hellebore and stockholm tar.  Nostrums and Quackery (1912) pointed out that the difference ‘bears out what has been stated many times – that the composition of nostrums can never be relied on,’ but to be fair, pokeweed is indigenous to North America but not Britain, so the London branch of the company probably couldn’t get regular supplies.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I just found an old book in a book sale (Sept 25) that had a clipping in it with this ad! Wish I could figure out what the source is, but the clipping I have does not have the complete ad…. thrilled for your posting of it!

  2. I found a old news paper in a old trunk call Christian Union Herald 1904 Pittsburg,Pa. that listed the Magic foot drafts also listed a cure call swamp Root cure all

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