Medicine of days gone by – In this illustration from about 1830, a doctor provides a vial of medicine for a sick woman. Medical treatments in the 19th and early 20th centuries looked a lot different than ones we see marketed today. From "magic" treatments to retro spectacles, check out some of these products sold in the United States 100 years ago or more. They are kept at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
The Little Liver Pill – It may look like a vial of mouse droppings but, according to its packaging, this treatment was marketed for a variety of purposes: "A mild cathartic. For biliousness, dizziness, nervous or sick headache, nausea, coated tongue, loss of appetite, bad taste in the mouth, sleepiness, sallow skin, dyspepsia and indigestion, sour stomach caused by inactive or sluggish liver or constipated bowels." No word on what the little mouse has to do with this remedy, made between 1898 and 1902.
Dr. Flint's Quaker Bitters – This medication was manufactured by the Quaker Bitters company around 1900. Apparently, it had all kinds of uses: "A stomach tonic. For nervousness, catarrh of the head and stomach, scrofulous humor, canker, pimples and humors on the face, summer complaints, female weaknesses. Restores the appetite, purifies the blood. For dyspepsia, constipation, sick headache, dizziness, low spirits caused by disordered stomach, rheumatism, neuralgia, kidney and liver complaints, bilious attacks, piles, malaria, torpidity of the system, languor, general debility, fever and ague."
The Magic Cure – Wow, magic?! We're not sure which spell manufacturer George Tallcot used, but the packaging on this product promises that it "Cures malarial fevers, headaches, dyspepsia, neuralgia, rheumatism, piles, costiveness." It was made between 1875 and 1883.
Dr. Kilmer's female remedy – This medicine, according to its label, is "The Great Blood Purifier and System Regulator. The Only Herbal Alternative and Depurative Ever Discovered." The company that made it, Dr. Kilmer & Co., was founded in the 1870s and was one of the first firms to advertise nationally. Its other remedies included "Swamp Root and Kidney Cure."
Dr. Strong's Life Force pills – These "life force pills" were made in 1905. According to its manufacturer, they "will positively cure biliousness and bilious headache, constipation, sick and nervous headache, torpid liver, nausea, jaundice, general debility, indigestion, malaria, fever and ague, sluggish bowels, dizziness, cramps, loss of appetite, sour stomach, sallow skin, and are an invaluable aid in curing piles, colds, and 'grip.'"
Clinical axilla thermometer – Thermometers, while commonplace today, didn't become a standard physician's tool until after the Civil War. The early varieties were made of thin tubes of glass with mercury and were mounted to ivory or wood. This particular thermometer was sold by Francis Arnold, a surgical instrument maker in Baltimore, who was listed in the Baltimore City Directory from 1845 to 1874. It's used in the armpit.