Many wonderful advertising posters and trade cards were printed to promote patent medicines beginning in the mid nineteenth century.
Apothecary shops became a recognized part of most communities during the eighteenth century as manufacturers began to produce medications for national distribution. These shops required ways to attract customers and equipment to prepare these new products.
Most medications in the United States prior to 1880 came from England and Europe where heads of state regularly gave “patents” to their favorite manufacturers. “Patent medicines” are those with disclosed ingredients and were initially imported with great success since production in the colonies was limited.
Long before recorded history, medical practitioners were treating patients with potions, herbs, and incantations.
The disgrace of medicine has been that colossal system of self-deception, in obedience to which mines have been emptied of their cankering minerals, the vegetable kingdom robbed of all its noxious growths, the entrails of animals taxed for their impurities, the poison-bags of reptiles drained of their venom, and all the inconceivable abominations thus obtained thrust down the throats of human beings suffering from some fault of organization, nourishment, or vital stimulation.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, MD (1861)
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