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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Before and After: the 1884 Medicine show

If there were such a thing as time travel, (aside from the 60 sec/minute speed we're moving at now) I would like to take one of the handful of 19th century newspapers I've found and use it as a portal. Aside from all the comparative knowledge you could take to an era (My God! He has a ball-point quill!), you could actually verify all the things we know of a period and bring back some accuracy. I'm not calling foul to the historians and writers of the time, but I know I can't send an email or contribute to a meeting without the reply or the minutes being distorted. It's no wonder why internet search works so well, we seem to read and write in keywords only the rest is treated as just filler. Truthfully, in looking through those papers I only scan the articles. The real eye-catch are the ads, and there-in lie the greatest, well, lies.
These ads are from the "The Berkshire County Eagle"  April 22, 1884 (poorly scanned above).  Another gem from a box lot of items I found a few summers ago This one is not so acidified that it couldn't be rescued from the 12 folds that some previous holder had sentenced it to.  I could read these all day and never get tired. What the heck is "Spermatorrhea?"  Wait. Don't tell me. It is exactly what it sounds like. Next!
The "Before and After" is a great marketing trick. I wonder who thought of it first? Garden of Eden before, and Garden of Eden after. In the ad above, if you can get beyond sharing with family and friends that you would actually see a Dr. named "Dye", then you can trust that you 'll be transformed from a sickly young Abe Lincoln, to a vibrant U.S. Grant. I am not going for historical accuracy here, that's merely who the pictures look like to me. 

Right below one of these ads, of which there were several in this paper, was what I refer to as the penultimate "after" and may best describe how accurate all of the medicinal promises actually were.
Now, that's what I want - a hearse with all the Trimmings!

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