While some historical quacks and their remedies remain famous, I often find adverts for products that have faded into obscurity. Some were one-hit wonders that only appeared in the papers for a few weeks, while others were well known in their time but don’t have much extant background information associated with them.

There are also ads I haven’t blogged about because they are too similar to those I’ve already covered. They are, however, worth sharing with the world, so over the next couple of weeks I’ll be featuring some of these gems rather than the usual more detailed posts.

First up is Professor Modevi’s Beard Generator, promoted in The Illustrated Police News on 4 April 1885.

Professor Modevi's Beard Generator


TWENTY YEARS’ SUCCESS.—The only really certain means of growing a beard hitherto discovered is the use of Professor Modevi’s


Success guaranteed after four to six weeks’ use, even by young men not above seventeen years of age. Perfectly harmless for the skin. A 5s. bottle, or double-sized 8s. bottle, sent directly on receipt of P.O.O. or stamps for the amount. Only to be had genuine of GIOVANNI BORGHI, Manufacturer of Eau-de-Cologne and Perfumery, Cologne-on-the-Rhine, Germany.


  1. Wonder what was actually in it? Perfumed water, I suppose. I love the before and after pictures, just in case you didn’t know what a beard was.

    • I should think it was something pretty innocuous, but I don’t know. Some hair-growing products contained borax but they were aimed at the bald rather than the beardless!

  2. do you think the police force was a profession troubled by poor beard growth? Very entertaining!

    • The Illustrated Police News has the wackiest ads ever. The Beard Generator was next to one for the ‘Yankee Rubber Baby.’ If any policemen actually read it, they probably had a good laugh!

  3. If Andy Murray has been using Professor Modevi’s beard generator it didn’t do his tennis much good.

Comments are closed.