Sunday, February 6, 2011

Flatulence is Not a Laughing Matter - Chamberlain's Colic Remedy - Part III

Okay, to finish up a 3-part series on "Chamberlain's Colic Remedy" (previous posts here and here), below you will find images from a 16-page pamphlet of short stories, c. 1910, published by the Chamberlain Medicine Co.

The pamphlet was only one of many advertising vehicles used by the patent medicine industry. As James H. Young stated in his excellent book, Toadstool Millionaires:

"Public attention was assaulted by hundreds of other weapons employed by the nostrum maker. There were the ubiquitous almanacs, and the omnipresent roadside signs. There were joke-books, cook-books, coloring books, song-books, and dream-books. There were handbill ballads, like "Nellie and Her Lover" for Bliss Cough Syrup, and "The Musquitoe's Lament" for Perkins' Infallible Aromatic and Disinfecting Pastile. The Robber's Roost; or, Last Victim, boosting Herrick's Sugar Coated Pills, was a rip-roaring paperback tale set west of the Mississippi with lots of gunfire and a gal. In issuing a Moral Story, the makers of Hood's Sarsaparilla had perhaps an even better idea, for it was very like a Sunday School paper. At the other extreme was the suggestive pamphlet with titillating title, Married at Last, circulated by a consumption cure. There were pill-filled paper weights and decorated porcelain: Mrs. Grover Cleveland appeared on a china platter advertising a kidney and liver cure. Thousands of small cards were brought out in series, and the collector had his choice of dozens of themes, sentimental, athletic, poignant, comic, historical, floral, biographical, or even combinations, like the amusing caricatures of baseball players who "played" for Merchant's Gargling Oil of Brockport, New York. (In nearby Rochester a real baseball club, the Hop Bitters, contested in the National Association. )

Nostrum litera
ture was piled on the counters of drugstores and country general stores. It was delivered to the doorstep of the home. It was sent through the mail, sometimes to special lists of addresses secured from storekeepers and clergymen, some-times "run through the post office into every man's box." The patent medicine message might be encountered in mail order catalogs and in the back pages of new novels. Perhaps it was only in fiction that the nostrum gospel reached the end sheets and flyleaves of hotel Bibles, but one is tempted to wonder."

The images below are from the front cover, back cover, and representative pages of the inside of the pamphl
et, carrying a mix of "short stories" and testimonials for Chamberlain medicines. My personal favorite is the contest for a prize for the best-written testimonial, with hints for a prize-winning letter!


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