Category:
Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil

Helmbold’s Extract of Buchu

Read all about the herb buchu and its medicinal merchandising here.

One of the most (in)famous protagonists was Henry T. Helmbold (1826–1892), who started his patent medicine business in 1846 as a retail druggist with “Helmbold’s Extract Buchu—cures diabetes, gravel, brick-dust deposits, irritations of the bladder and diseases arising from exposure or imprudence, etc.” and other medicines. He opened his first store in Philadelphia in 1850, the largest and best-known in New York in 1862. By 1865 Helmbold’s buchu was the bestselling patent medicine on the US market. For this, he spent enormous amounts of money on advertising, mostly in newspapers: ∼US$ 500,000 (about 10 million US$ today) each for the years 1869–71. For the distribution of his products, Helmbold had his own 4c postage stamp (Figure 4) (The Historian, 1912; Young, 1961).




The Hottentot ad is for Helmsbold's product. It has three more pages, viewable here.


Posted By: Paul - Fri May 10, 2024 - Comments (2)
Category: Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, Africa, Nineteenth Century

Eclectric Oil

Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil was widely sold as a cure-all in the second half of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth. This was even though, as Wikipedia notes, it "mostly contained common ingredients such as turpentine and camphor oil."

Some of the things it supposedly cured included rheumatism, lame backs, sore throats, coughs and colds, throat and lung disease, and asthma. It could even cure "chicken flesh wounds" (see ad below).

Wikipedia notes that the name Eclectric Oil was "likely a portmanteau of the words 'eclectic' and 'electric', alluding to the then-popular belief that electricity had curative powers." Of course, the oil was not electric in any way.


image source: wellcome collection



Canadian Poultry Review - Apr 1926

Posted By: Alex - Sun Apr 07, 2024 - Comments (0)
Category: Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, Nineteenth Century

Cancer Cured with soothing balmy oils



McClure's Magazine - Apr 1898

Posted By: Alex - Fri Feb 23, 2024 - Comments (0)
Category: Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, Nineteenth Century

Konjola

Read the full story here.

It was a vegetable concoction with a high alcohol content that could be sold without prescription and gave comfort to many who could not or would not find a bootlegger to ease the strictures of Prohibition.

Konjola sold like bathtub gin in the Roaring Twenties. Gilbert and Roberta started Mosby Medicine by mixing up tubs of Konjola in their basement and bottling it themselves. By 1927, Mosby owned a factory on Reading Road in Avondale and was planning an even bigger complex up the road. Mosby bought a spectacular neon sign, 84 feet long and 32 feet high, to advertise Konjola on the central pier of the Atlantic City boardwalk.

And then it all fell apart.




Posted By: Paul - Mon Jan 29, 2024 - Comments (2)
Category: Regionalism, Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, 1920s, Alcohol

Flavettes




What were the miracle ingredients that could cure the tobacco habit?



Source.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Oct 24, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Scams, Cons, Rip-offs, and General Larceny, Tobacco and Smoking, Advertising, Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, 1950s

Healing Mummified Hand

Although the mummified hand supposedly healed 500 people, I've only been able to find one description of a "cure":

One old lady who had been unable to raise her paralysed arm above her heart for ten years was one of the pilgrims who tested it, and in three days she was able to raise her helpless arm over her head.

Saskatoon Phoenix - Feb 8, 1928



Sydney Sunday Times - Feb 5, 1928

Posted By: Alex - Tue Sep 12, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Paranormal, Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, 1920s

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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