Tag: quackery

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  • The rise and fall of Sequah


    Few patent medicine advertising campaigns could have been as quirky as that of the Sequah Medicine Company. A browse through the late 19th century issues of the Chemist and Druggist journal traces the rise and fall of the Sequah business.… Continue reading

  • Dr Williams’ Pink Pills for Pale People


    Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease that has been around since antiquity. It has gone by many names: phthisis (the original Greek name), consumption, the white plague – and many treatments have been offered over the years. One example of a… Continue reading

  • Spotlight: Dr Joshua Webster’s Diet Drink


    The makers of a Georgian universal remedy known as Dr Webster’s Diet Drink or Cerevisia Anglicana (English Beer) were clearly on to a good thing when they inherited the recipe. This ‘medicine’ had been reportedly formulated in 1742 by a… Continue reading

  • An operatic elixir…


    On Saturday evening, BBC Radio 3 broadcast Donizetti’s comic opera L’elisir d’amore live from the Royal Opera House. The plot of the opera revolves around the love potions of the quack doctor Dulcamara and the history of quackery was explored during… Continue reading

  • Dr Eady–from Soho to Beverly Hills


    Watercolour by Thomas Rowlandson, ca. 1825. Wellcome Library no. 726498i The Wellcome Library in London has acquired a watercolour by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827). Yes, without apology, yet another work by Rowlandson has been added to the large number of prints… Continue reading

  • Brandreth’s Pills


    Yesterday (4th October) BBC Radio 4 aired Brandreth’s Pills which told the story of Benjamin Brandreth, a pioneering patent remedy salesman of the nineteenth century. Brandreth’s Vegetable Pills earned their creator a fortune, and the programme investigated Brandreth’s ground-breaking marketing… Continue reading

  • Quacks and Cures: new and improved!


    Friday 4th June sees the return of Wellcome Collection’s hugely popular Quacks and Cures all-building spectacular. The event aims to present a snapshot of some of the opinions and ideas threaded through three centuries of medical history. Friday’s event will… Continue reading

  • The Carbolic Smoke Ball


    Pictured left is an advertisement for the Carbolic Smoke Ball, which on first impression appears a standard piece of late-Victorian medical ephemera, with little relevance to how we live our lives today. However, this week’s episode of The Cases that… Continue reading

  • An Extraordinary Delivery of Rabbets: see the Mary Toft collection online


    The Library holds a comprehensive collection of early printed works concerning the notorious case of Mary Toft, a woman who claimed to give birth to rabbits. Around 22 18th century pamphlets and books have been scanned cover to cover and… Continue reading

  • The after-effects of Vril


    Dr Lesley Hall of the Wellcome Library was one of the contributors to a recent BBC Radio 3 documentary discussing the curious afterlife of Edward Bulwer Lytton’s Vril. Matthew Sweet finds out about Vril, the infinitely powerful energy source of… Continue reading