RB-0695.3 | Doctors and a Specialist Failed ! People Called it a Miracle !

 
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Doctors and a Specialist Failed ! People Called it a Miracle !
Wells & Richardson Co.
1896, 19th century
Paper
24.7 x 17 cm
RB-0695.3
© McCord Museum
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Keywords:  portrait (53878) , Print (10661)
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Keys to History

Here the maker of Paine's Celery Compound has used a popular technique to sway potential customers. Under dramatic headlines announcing miracles of healing, the remedy is presented as a universal panacea able to cure almost every aliment, even the most severe.

This is followed by a minutely detailed description of the patients' medical history, their fruitless visits to doctors and, finally, their cure by the much-vaunted product. These particular ads place great emphasis on the doctors' inability to heal the pictured patients.

Such boldfaced claims were bound to irritate physicians. In the late 19th century, several Canadian medical bodies filed suit to have this type of advertising outlawed. But vast commercial interests were at stake, and the complainants ran up against the proprietary medicine lobby.

It wasn't until the early 20th century that the federal government forced manufacturers to label their products with usage and dosage specifications and the ingredients.

References
D. Goulet, Le Commerce des maladies, (Quebec City: Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture, "Edmond De Nevers" series, 1987), pp. 68-70.

J. Collin and D. Béliveau, Histoire de la pharmacie au Québec <\I>(Montreal: Musée de la pharmacie du Québec, 1994), pp. 131, 138.

J. K. Crellin, Home Medicine (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1994), pp. 148-150.

  • What

    The miracle cure is, in fact, a compound of celery seeds and various plant products in a highly alcoholic solution.

  • Where

    This was one of the most popular secret remedies on the American market and a big seller in Canada, as well.

  • When

    Paine's Celery Compound was first marketed in the mid-1800s. It reached its heyday at the turn of the century, then declined over the next few decades due to legal restrictions on its marketing claims.

  • Who

    Ads of this sort were designed to reach families and portray doctors as inefficient. Here the claim is for the cure of chorea, a nervous disorder commonly called St. Vitus' dance.