Vintage Ads: Tonics, Elixirs, and Gadgets for Health

Modern problems got you down? These old-time ads for liniments, elixirs, and “electrical” cures just might be the thing to raise your spirits.


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Looking for a salve to soothe your soul or a tonic to tweak your physique? These advertisements that appeared in the late 1800s and early 1900s in the Post promised to fix everything from extra girth to self-worth.

Brandreth’s Pills
March 31, 1860


Botanic Medicine Co.
July 6, 1878


Perry Davis’ Pain Killer
March 25, 1880


The Wonderful Magneto-Galvanic Batteries
January 29, 1881


Dyke’s Beard Elixer
June 17, 1882


Vintage Ad
Dr. Dye’s Voltaic Belt
June 30, 1883


The Hercules Club Co.
April 27, 1901


Sloan’s Liniment
September 29, 1904


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  1. Thanks for running this set of wonderful ‘medical’ ads from long ago. It’s a temptation to dismiss them as far-fetched, but they may not be (overall) in trying to remedy/cure the legitimate ailments of those times; most still problematic today. The real concerns were whether they worked or not.

    The curse of our existences were not beyond the realm of medical science of these times according to most here. Mrs. Shaeffer put her own name on the line after all, with her Brandreth’s pills. She covers a lot of ground here, and they likely sold well. I’d love to know if they did help and to what extent. I know what you’re thinking—but we don’t really know, and can’t honestly say no.

    The Botanic Medicine ad does seem very far-fetched; I’m sorry. But that before and after picture were powerful enough to get enough heavy set ladies to at least try it out. I wounder if there was a male equivalent ad? I doubt it.

    The Voltaic Belt’s before and after pictures are odd. The man on the left looks sad but appears to be slim and trim otherwise. The man on the right does look self assured, but that belly girth? Not healthy, and certainly a double standard of men and women, I’d say (not shocking). The ad copy here frankly took some nerve to print with a straight face, but apparently not then. Some of the things mentioned should warrant a look of surprise. Same with the Hercules ad for that matter.

    The Magneto-Galvanic battery blood purifying ad offers intrigue and hope in what has to be cutting-edge medical tech for the time. A definite forerunner in concept to current machines that put energy into the bodies of people and animals for genuine pain relief, energy and much more. Not sure about the bottom ad for people and animals, but who knows? I do know the elixer ad for the beard is pretty weird, and had to have been confusing in 1882 also!


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