10 Victorian products for Movember

As more than a million people across the world spend this month growing moustaches to raise awareness of – and funds for – Movember‘s men’s health projects, here are a few 19th-century products to help them along the way.   1. Latreille’s Excelsior Lotion Advertised in the 1870s by John Latreille, originally …

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Bailey’s Rubber Complexion Brush

  A harmless alternative to the arsenical preparations then in vogue for improving the complexion, Bailey’s rubber brush was intended to improve the circulation, clear the pores and allow the blood to free itself of impurities. Charles J Bailey of Newton, Massachusetts, invented the product in 1887, immediately patenting it …

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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, and occasional photos of health-related objects from the past. For the time being I don’t have …

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Anti-Stiff – strengthens the muscles

  Anti-Stiff – a name contrary to the philosophy of today’s email spammers – appears to have been a boon to the athletes of the 1890s. It was a muscle rub intended to ward off aches and fatigue during a variety of sporting endeavours, and its promoter claimed that ‘some …

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No More Baldheads, No More Dandruff

Whether they promised to cover a bald head with a mop of curls, to rejuvenate greying locks or to produce manly whiskers on the smoothest of chins, hair-related products appear in numerous Victorian and Edwardian adverts. There was a huge choice of potions, lotions, devices and even pills for bringing …

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A Wife is the Peculiar Gift of Heaven

This advertisement for Eno’s Fruit Salt appeared in the special Royal Wedding Edition of the Penny Illustrated Paper on 8 July 1893. The edition commemorated the nuptials of Prince George, Duke of York and Princess May of Teck – the future King George V and Queen Mary. Click the image to …

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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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Mother’s Friend

In honour of the birth of The Quack Doctor’s new baby niece, who arrived early Saturday morning in the car park of Harlow Hospital, this post looks at a liniment that claimed to make labour a doddle. Mother’s Friend was on sale in the US and Canada by the mid-1880s, …

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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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Dr A Wilford Hall’s Hygienic Treatment

From the Pittsburgh Dispatch, 2 Jan 1890 Alexander Wilford Hall wasn’t trying to flog a potion or contraption. His secret to health and longevity was something that people could do for themselves, for their whole lives, at very low cost. That is, if they really had the stomach for it. …

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