M2003X. | Baldness is Curable

Baldness is Curable
1878, 19th century
6.8 x 6.3 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Miscellaneous (671) , Print (10661)
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Keys to History

The term "elixir" - long associated with alchemists and promises of eternal youth - was shrewdly appropriated to designate sweetened aromatic solutions of alcohol and water containing small quantities of colouring, plant or animal extract, or salt. The composition of these products varied widely. There were elixirs of liquorice, coca leaf, hops, chloroform, etc.

In general, they were used for their invigorating, stimulating effect or, inversely, as relaxants. They were also recommended as astringent agents for tightening the skin.

Some patent elixir makers even claimed to have found a magic formula for curing baldness. Not only would the miracle product prevent hair loss, it would make all lost hair grow back!

J. Collin and D. Béliveau, Histoire de la pharmacie au Québec (Montreal: Musée de la pharmacie du Québec, 1994), p. 137.

J. K. Crellin, Home Medicine (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1994), p. 40.

  • What

    Advertisement (engraved) vaunting the merits of miracle cures for restoring lost hair.

  • Where

    Highly popular in Europe and North America, products for enhancing hair growth were widely advertised.

  • When

    From the 1870s through the 1920s, much energy and effort was invested in seeking a miracle cure for baldness - to no avail.

  • Who

    For the most part, these products were meant for men, particularly balding men. One ad guarantees a cure within three to six months.