A contemporary patent
medicine empire: Read selections
from Dr. R.V. Pierce's The People's Common Sense
Medical Adviser; or, Medicine Explained,
(1895, Buffalo, New York, from Pierce's own
press at his World's Dispensary Medical
(loss of semen without copulation, which usually
portrait of Pierce,
and his hospital.
See Dr. Grace Feder Thompson's
letter appealing for patients, Lydia E. Pinkham's
Vegetable Compound, and Orange
Blossom medicine, Dr. E. C. Abbey's The Sexual System and Its
Derangements, which emphasises
masturbation, as does Dr. Pierce, and several small boxes of old
American patent medicine for women.
And, of course, the first Tampax AND - special
for you! - the American fax tampon,
from the early 1930s, which also came in bags.
See a Modess True or
False? ad in The American Girl magazine,
January 1947, and actress Carol
Lynley in "How Shall I Tell My Daughter"
booklet ad (1955) - Modess
. . . . because ads (many dates).
S. B. Hartman,
M.D. Lectures on Chronic Catarrh,
Booklet (selections), Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A.
Catarrh as the cause of many diseases
The cure: patent medicines Pe-ru-na (Peruna),
Man-a-lin (Manalin), La-cu-pi-a (Lacupia)
After ignoring this red
booklet for years in a box in the MUM
archives, I finally opened it and saw
great illustrations in a 19th-century
style familiar from many patent
medicine pamphlets. I figured the
author gave medical opinion of the
time about catarrh.
You're familiar with a runny nose?
You're familiar with catarrh.
But the word Pe-ru-na
popped up again and again - and again
and again. I looked it up and its
history seemed to link it to a Swedish
word for pear.
Further looking uncovered the word's
historic importance. Pe-Ru-Na helped
change American history!
Pe-Ru-Na tricked Americans into
thinking it alone was the cure for
many maladies. Its maker, this
booklet's author, Dr. S. B. Hartman,
built a million-dollar empire selling
bottles of it for $1 each, a lot of
money in that day. He wrote free
booklets, gave free written advice,
kept patients in his sanitarium for
long-time cures although apparently
not for free.
Remind you of anyone? How about Mrs.
Lydia Pinkham? Dr.
Pierce? A thousand others? (To
be fair, Mrs. Pinkham didn't operate a
sanitarium, just an army
of fake Mrs. Pinkhams to answer
sick people's letters long after the
real one died.)
Both Hartman and Pinkham concocted
their medicines from herbs and - the
active ingredient - alcohol, a lot of
it. That would be the effective part
would disagree. Many other sham
medicines of the era contained opium,
heroin, cannabis, cocaine and the
Dr. Hartman makes a strong connection
between health and beauty
throughout the booklet. Alcohol often
reddens the face of a drinker,
giving a white person, his target,
the look of health. Drinking
his alcohol, Pe-ru-na, thus
makes women beautiful - with women
mostly believing the cause was
medicinal. He scatters pictures of
attractive women (and hats)
through the Health and Beauty section
that is reproduced here.
But in 1905 Collier's magazine exposed
this patent medicine duplicity with a
very readable series of articles.
The following year President Teddy
Roosevelt signed the Pure Food and
Drug Act of 1906, a first step in
regulating this highly profitable
Also in 1905, stores
on Indian reservations were forbidden
to sell Pe-Ru-Na to Native Americans
because of the alcohol.
(For fun, see if you can find a
visual common cause for these ladies'
illnesses. I'll tell you as you wend
your way through the pages.)
And many - most? all? - of the
illnesses the doctor claims Pe-Ru-Na
cured would have gone away on their
own if given enough time. Tincture of time,
just what the hand surgeon told me
would cure the pain after an
anesthetist's needle impaled my radial
nerve. For many people Pe-Ru-Na made
that time happier, possibly dangerous
or fatal, and expensive. That's the
way alcohol works.
I'd call Dr. Hartman a monster.
I've limited these pages mostly to
those devoted to women, pp. 65-98.
Read more about Pe-Ru-Na
and its history.
SarahAnne Hazlewood generously
donated the booklet to this museum.
The booklet measures about 6 x 9"
(15.2 x 22.9 cm) with 96 yellowing
numbered pages plus a table of contents
and a preface.
first, below, a Pe-ru-na ad
to show you what you're dealing with.
Date and publication (possibly Collier's
The case was a Close call!
| [pp. 2-64 skipped] | 65 female
catarrh | 66 female
debility | 67 catarrh;
vulvitis; catching cold | 68 The
working woman; the society woman | 69 pruritis
vulvae | 70 catarrh
of bladder | 71 [illustration only] "Health
and Beauty are Inseparable" | 72 vaginitis;
leucorrhea (whites) | 73 bearing-down
pains | 74 heavy
skirts; a typical case of vaginal leucorrhea
| 75 endometritis
| 76 pe-ru-na
is harmless | 77 catarrhal
amenorrhea | 78 menorrhagia;
metorrhagia | 79 dysmenorrhea
| 80 [illustration only] "Perfect
Health Brings Beauty" | 81 salpingitis
| 82 barrenness
| 83 change
of life [menopause] | 84 catarrhal
congestion | 85 no
narcotics; constipation; your diet | 86 an
interesting case continued | 87 the
nerves and catarrh; hysteria | 88 nervous
prostration | 89 a
merchant's wife; a farmer's wife | 90
[illustration only] "The
Only Road to Beauty is Health" | 91 catarrh
continued | 92 clean
skin; massage baths | 93 facial
blemishes; mask for face and hands | 94 heredity
| 95 false
modesty | 96 health
and beauty | 97 epidemic
catarrh or la grippe [influenza, flu] 98 gentle
laxative; after effects of la grippe
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