Sears Roebuck, 1903
Starting to develop a worrisome cough? What you need, Sir or Madame, is Dr. Hammond’s Tar Expectorant. It cures influenza and dozens of other ailments, including some I’ve never heard of, like quinsy. Perhaps quinsy no longer afflicts anyone because Tar Expectorant eliminated it? After all, it worked on “every case of pulmonary disease not already beyond the reach of human aid… More Cases of Consumption have been cured by the timely use of Dr. Hammond’s Tar Expectorant than by all other remedies combined.”
If not Tar Expectorant, then perhaps Curtis’ Consumption Cure will help. Or Barker’s Blood Builder. Dr. Hammond also offered Nerve and Brain Pills for “weak men”, while a Dr. Worden sold Female Pills for weak women. There were even Purple Pills back in 1903, although not like today’s – these were for ladies who needed help with the regularity of “the systemic functions peculiar to her sex.”
Not got coronavirus, but still, all this bad news is getting to you to the point where you’re not sleeping well? Take a swig of Somone which contains “no opium, morphine, or poisonous narcotics of any kind whatsoever.” Thank goodness for that.
Pages and products like these led to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, after which a single product could no longer swear to cure everything from torpid liver to pimples to colic. This was a grand era of copywriting loquaciousness, so click the pictures to zoom in and read all about these do-cure-alls, tonics, and nostrums.
These days everything is order-able online. A century ago it was catalogs. The speed was different but the principle was the same. Sears sold absolutely everything. Heck yes, they would ship you toilet paper. 3 cents per roll for the cheap stuff; 7 cents for “the best tissue toilet paper made.” Promoted on the same page as “Black Death” Bug Killer & Fertilizer and “Celebrated Yankee Squire” cigars.