Merchant’s Gargling Oil

ADvent Calendar Day 14 If people evolved from apes, why are apes still selling Gargling Oil? Ask this fellow, taking a break from evading sasquatch hunters to advise punters that Merchant’s liniment is good for both man and beast. It was mainly an external remedy for bruises, wounds, skin diseases, …

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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 Century Thermal Bath Cabinet

ADvent Calendar Day 10 The Century Thermal Bath Cabinet Company was a leading player in the vogue for portable Turkish baths for home use at the turn of the 20th century. The luxury was not without its dangers; newspapers occasionally reported cases of the alcohol stove setting light to the …

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Smedley’s Chillie Paste

ADvent Calendar Day 9 Smedley’s Chillie Paste was for topical application only, but if you should be tempted to swallow a spoonful of this capsicum-based rub, you would probably be able to cure yourself of a head cold… or of owning a head altogether. According to adverts from the 1870s, …

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Hunt’s Remedy

ADvent Calendar Day 7 Take THAT, Death! POW! The skeletal figure of the Grim Reaper drops his scythe and cowers before the might of a strong, healthy opponent wielding a bottle of Hunt’s Remedy. The Remedy became popular in the 1870s after it was acquired by William Clarke of Providence, Rhode …

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Godfrey’s Inhaler

This mainstream medical product enabled the inhalation of vapour for the treatment of asthma, hay fever, coughs, colds and other respiratory problems. The vapour was created by combining hydrochloric acid and ammonium chloride, which were provided in attractive little glass bottles – one clear and one emerald green. There are …

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Claxton’s Patent Ear Cap

ADvent Calendar Day 4 ‘It has often been observed by experienced elders, that since it became the fashion for babies to discard caps, protruding ears are but too common. They are very ugly, and the ear-cap just invented is a safe preventive, without the heat that made the cap objectionable.’ …

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ADvent Calendar 1: The Health Jolting Chair

  Every day until Christmas, The Quack Doctor will be showing a different historical health-related advertisement. First is this brain-refresher and household blessing – the Health Jolting Chair (1885), courtesy of the US National Library of Medicine. . .

The devil in disguise

Hall's Coca Wine - 1897 ad from Country Life

John Michael Smith is one of those fleeting figures who cross history’s pages when they get into trouble and then disappear, leaving only a hint of a life where destitution is more prominent than criminality. At the age of 11 he lived in Lodge Lane, Derby, with his mother and …

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For the blood is the life

The Quack Doctor is currently providing Victorian remedies for Sky Living’s online newspaper, The Inquisitor, which accompanies the channel’s new ten-part drama, Dracula. If you are visiting the site for the first time via sky.com, welcome!   ‘For the blood is the life’: the evocative quotation appears in the very …

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