Friday, February 3, 2012

1870s Advertising

I've finished looking over some archives of the Herald of Truth, a 19th century Mennonite newspaper based in Indiana and devoted to aiding Mennonites on their way from Europe. There are reports from those preparing to come over, lists of collections taken by American citizens to help pay for passage, warnings to immigrants about scam artists at the NYC docks, updates about new communities in the Plains, and climate reports. And then there are the ads:

Gray’s Special Medicine
The Great English Remedy. An unfailing cure for Seminal Weakness, 
Spermatorrhea, Impotency, and all Diseases that follow as a sequence of self–abuse: 
as Loss of Memory, Universal Lassitude, Pain in the Back, Dimness of Vision, 
Premature Old Age, and many other diseases that lead to 
Insanity of Consumption and a Premature Grave.

Full particulars in our pamphlet, which we desire to send free by mail to every one. 
The Specific Medicine is sold by all druggists at $1 per package, or six packages for $5, 
or will be sent free by mail on receipt of the money, by addressing 
The Gray Medicine Co, Sold in Topeka.


[a variant of the below is still sold in Walgreens and CVS]

Lydia E. Pinkham’s
Vegetable Compound.
Is a Positive Cure
for all those Painful Complaints and Weakness
so common to our best female populations.
It will cure entirely the worst forms of Female Complaints, all ovarian troubles, 
Inflammation and Ulceration, Falling and Displacements, and the consequent Spinal Weakness, 
and is particularly adapted to the Change of Life
 It will dissolve and expel tumors from the uterus in an early stage of development. 
The tendency to cancerous humors is checked very speedily by its use.
It removes faintness, flatulency, destroys all craving for stimulants, and relieves 
weakness of the stomach. It cures Bloating, Headaches, Nervous Prostration, 
General Debility, Sleeplessness, Depression, and Indigestion.
            That feeling of bearing down, causing pain, weight and backache, 
is always permanently cured by its use.
It will at all times and under all circumstances act in harmony with the laws 
that govern the female system. For the cure of Kidney Complaints 
of either sex this Compound is unsurpassed.

[$1, six bottles for $5. Pills or lozenges. Mrs. Pinkham freely answers all letters of inquiry.

            No family should be without Lydia T. Pinkham’s Liver Pills. 
They cure constipation, billousness, and torpidity of the liver. 23 cents per box.


A Preventive for Chills, Fever and Ague.
a sure cure for
Dyspepsia, Indigestion, Liver Complaint,
Headache, Dizziness, Loss of Appetite,
Languor, Sour Stomach, etc.
Especially adapted for Kidney Disease
and all Female Weaknesses.

The Dandelion Tonic is principally composed
of fresh Dandelion Root, Juniper Berries,
Red Peruvian Bark, Prickly Ash Bark, Iron and
Alteratives; also an antacid, which will remove
all belching sensations that are produced from
sour stomach.

Price, $1.00 per Bottle, or Six for $5.00

For Sale by all Druggists and Dealers in Medicines.
If your dealers do not keep it, sens direct to
the proprietors with money enclosed

Sole Proprieters,
Leis Chemical Manufacturing Co.
Lawrence, Kas

Aren't they fascinating? Clearly the first one is for teenaged boys. I'd like to see contemporary ads try this style on for a change, especially when discussing female weaknesses and how the tonic works in harmony with the laws of health.


Jeff said...

So,uh, yeah. How about the weather around here! Daffodils starting to bloom already.Go figure.

Unknown said...

That's quite the litany of female complaints. At least we don't have to worry about the consequences of self-abuse, though, right? (Unless that's the target of a completely different medicine?!)

Um... by the way, "regmedic" is my captcha for this. Ha!

Benjamin Vogt said...

Jeff--Rumors of daffies here, too, but 6-10" of snow tomorrow to cover them up. We need it!
Kim--Gosh, women have far more complaints than that. I tells ya. And nothing to do with self abuse.

Diana Studer said...

Modern pharmaceuticals are of course quite different, proven, tested, no hollow claims. Have been told to stop taking a prescription drug against osteoporosis - after 5 years dutifully consuming it - can CAUSE freaky fractures and loss of bone in the jaw.

I'd be better off with Mrs Pinkham's Pink pills!

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

I rarely take modern drugs anymore...after seeing an acupuncturist who is also an MD, I have found herbal cures far exceed our pharmacy drugs...and no side effects...loved these..

laveta'splace said...

Just came across your site and I love it. So enjoyable and informative. Enjoy your writing. Will come back often.

Benjamin Vogt said...

D--Proven and tested? Ha. We have no idea what we're putting into our bodies, and won't know for decades, then the lawsuits come. I'm always hesitant to tank anything.
D2--I've always wondered about acupuncture, but don't know about the needles. Creepy.
L--Yer welcome back anytime! I'll leave the tea out, but will lock my door. Just good sense, you know? :)

Craig @ Ellis Hollow said...

Lilly the Pink:

Or if you want to hear the lyrics: