Notorious Chrimes: The Blackmail Pills

Richard and Edward Chrimes

In 1890s London, the ‘Lady Montrose Pills’ blackmail scheme efficiently and heartlessly targeted more than 8,000 victims. In this comprehensive account of the case, Dick Weindling introduces the Chrimes brothers, who manufactured this audacious scam.   In April 1896 adverts began to appear in newspapers across the country. Addressed to ‘Ladies …

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The bogus lady doctor

The Alleged Bogus Lady Doctor

In a recent post for the British Newspaper Archive, I mentioned Maria Owen, who posed as a doctor in late Victorian Birmingham. Here’s some more information about her, adapted from my book, The Quack Doctor: ‘I can cure you,’ the representative of the Ladies’ Medical Association told 37-year-old Julia Ann …

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Guest post: England’s ‘only female doctor’?

Esther Jane Neumane

Last year, The Quack Doctor featured some bottles from the collection of Michael Till, including this gorgeous and rare example of Cavania’s Wonder-Worker Lotion. A father and daughter team, Professor and Mademoiselle Cavania practised in the north of England during the 1860s and 70s. The prospect of formal medical qualifications …

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To whiten hands and skin

ADvent Calendar Day 21 The juxtaposition of ‘harmless’ and ‘arsenic’ is quite amusing, but the manufacturer’s assertions about the product’s safety were more believable than they might now appear. In the 1890s, the fashion for arsenic as a cosmetic led vendors to cash in on the poison’s reputation for creating …

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The very thing for ladies

ADvent Calendar Day 15 ‘It seemed to me that I was standing in a Temple of silence. Outside was the rush and roar of London life. Inside, all was calm and peaceful. The interior, in its blend of colours and graceful hangings, and its rich carpeting, reminds one of Oriental …

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Madame Fox’s Life for the Hair

ADvent Calendar Day 13 ‘Old things are passed away; behold all things are become new’. The advertisers of Madame Fox’s Life for the Hair quoted from 2 Corinthians as they sought to usher in ‘a new epoch in the treatment of the hair and scalp.‘ The product was advertised in Britain …

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The most uncanny look

 IRRESISTIBLE EYES MAY BE HAD BY TRANSPLANTING THE HAIR. a story from The Dundee Courier, 6 July 1899 If your eyes are unattractive you may make them irresistible by transplanting the hair. Transplanted eyelashes and eyebrows are the latest things in the way of personal adornment. There are specialists who make …

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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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To Short Persons

TO SHORT PERSONS.——Anyone (Male or Female) wishing to increase in Height and Symmetry of Figure, by means of a remarkable physiological discovery, may send a stamped directed envelope to Captain F. STAFFORD (U.S.). 1, Church-terrace, Kentish Town, London, N.W. The Penny Illustrated Post, 15 October 1870 —————————————————————————– Some advertisements might …

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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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