May 17

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago this week?

Pennsylvania Packet (May 14, 1772).

“Enquire only for Dr Hill’s American Balsam.”

Advertisements for patent medicines frequently appeared in early American newspapers.  In the spring of 1772, William Young took to the pages of the Pennsylvania Journal to promote “Dr. HILL’s AMERICAN BALSAM, LATELY imported from London.”  For those unfamiliar with this remedy, Young explained that “Experience has fully testified, that by the proper use of this excellent medicine, great numbers of people in America have been relieved in the consumption, gravel [or kidney stones] and rheumatic pains.”  In addition, it helped with colds, coughs, and “swimmings in the head.”

Many consumers may have been more familiar with popular patent medicines commonly sold by apothecaries, merchants, shopkeepers, and even printers and booksellers.  Newspaper advertisements suggest that colonizers could easily acquire Bateman’s Drops, Godfrey’s Cordial, Hooper’s Pills, Turlington’s Balsam, and a variety of other patent medicines in shops from New England to Georgia.  Hill’s American Balsam, in contrast, was not as readily available.  Instead, a small number of sellers in the colonies exclusively handled the distribution, including merchants in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Wilmington, North Carolina; shopkeepers in New York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania; a printer in Germantown, Pennsylvania; and a goldsmith in Wilmington, Delaware.  Young proclaimed that consumers would find this patent medicine “no where else.”

Such exclusivity had the potential to lead to confusion or even counterfeits.  In a nota bene, Young warned that “People, in buying this so highly esteemed medicine, should be careful not to get a wrong one and be deceived.”  To prevent that from happening, he gave instructions “to enquire only for Dr. Hill’s American Balsam.”  Consumers could confirm that they obtained the correct product by looking for Hill’s “direction wraped about each bottle.”  Printed materials played an important role in marketing this patent medicine, via the advertisements that appeared in the Pennsylvania Journal and via the ancillary materials that accompanied each bottle of Dr. Hill’s American Balsam.

March 12

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Pennsylvania Gazette (March 12, 1772).

The case and cure of Thomas Hewitt, sent to the Proprietor.”

An advertisement for Maredant’s Drops, a patent medicine, in the March 12, 1772, edition of the Pennsylvania Gazetteconsisted almost entirely of testimonials from patients who claimed that it cured impurities of the blood, scurvy, ulcers, “long continued inflammations of the eyes,” and a variety of other maladies.  Nicholas Brooks sold Maredant’s Drops at his shop on Market Street in Philadelphia.  In his advertisement, he directed prospective customers to visit in order to examine “the cases of the following persons, and many others, cured by Maredant’s drops.”  He listed several individuals, including “Joseph Feyrac, Esq; lately Lieutenant-Colonel in the 18th regiment of foot,” “Mr. Stoddard, brewer, Mr. Thomas Forrest, Attorney,” and “John Good, late surgeon to his Majesty’s sloop Ferrit.”  Brooks anticipated that the volume of testimonials would convince colonizers to take a chance on the patent medicines to see if they would benefit from similar results.

The shopkeeper noted that the patent medicine “may be taken in any season, without the least inconvenience or hindrance from business.”  In addition, this nostrum would “perfect digestion, and amazingly create an appetite.”  He did not say much else about Maredant’s Drops, but instead relied on two testimonials inserted in the advertisement.  In the first, dated “Kilkenny, June 25, 1771,” Thomas Hewitt explained that twenty years earlier he “was afflicted with a most violent scurvy” in his arms that eventually led to “large ulcers and blotches” on his face.  He consulted “several eminent physicians, and tried various medicines, prescribed by them, to little or no effect.”  Other residents of Kilkenny, where Hewitt lived for more than thirty years, could confirm that was the case.  Eventually, Hewitt saw Maredant’s Drops advertised by a printer in Kilkenny.  He purchased four bottles.  The medicine “quite restored” his appetite and the scurvy “gradually left [his] face, and all parts of [his] body.”  Hewitt declared himself “perfectly cured.”  The mayor of Kilkenny co-signed Hewitt’s testimonial to “certify the above case to be a fact.”

In another testimonial, Charles Ashley, an innkeeper, described the misfortunes of his son, afflicted with “the King’s evil” (scrofula, a form of tuberculosis) after surviving smallpox.  His son “was in so much misery, and without hopes of recovery” that Ashley “despaired of his life.”  When Ashley’s son recovered upon taking the “most excellent drops,” the innkeeper felt such “gratitude for so extraordinary a cure” that he “desired this to be made public.”  Furthermore, he invited readers to call at his house, “the Talbot inn, in the Strand,” to learn more and “see the child” for themselves.  Brooks apparently believed that he did not need to say more about Maredant’s Drops.  He depended on the testimonials to do all the necessary marketing.

February 17

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Pennsylvania Packet (February 17, 1772).

“The only true and genuine sort … is sealed with my seal and coat of arms.”

Beware of counterfeiters!  So warned Thomas Anderton in his advertisement for “TURLINGTON’s BALSAM OF LIFE; OR THE TRUE AMERICAN BALSAM.”  Anderton proclaimed that this patent medicine was recognized among Europeans, Americans, and “West-Indians” for its “true merit, of universal experience, utility and reputation,” superior to “all the other known Balsams.”  Continuing with the superlatives, Anderton trumpeted that Turlington’s Balsam of Life was “the best adapted in all cases, in every climate, to relieve the various ailments and diseases of the human body … that pharmacy, since the creation of the world, has produced.”  Tending to the quality of the product he marketed, Anderton asserted that he “faithfully prepared” the balsam “from a true copy of the original receipt, taken out of the Chancery-office, in London, where it is recorded on oath, when the patent was granted.”

Anderton claimed an exclusive right to produce and sell this extraordinary medicine in the colonies, yet that did not prevent others from distributing counterfeits.  He explained how consumers could distinguish the authentic balsam from imposters “which are to be met with every where.”  Those produced by Anderton were “sealed with my seal and coat of arms, and the direction bill given with each bottle is signed with my name in my own hand writing.”  Armed with that information, discerning customers could avoid being fooled by unscrupulous vendors who passed off inferior medicines as authentic Turlington’s Balsam of Life.  Some “very modest counterfeiters,” like Martha Wray and Mary Sopp, provided “direction bills” with the medicines they sold, but, according to Anderton, they “conscientiously avoid forging the proprietors names.”  Others, however, were more sophisticated in their efforts to hoodwink consumers.  They engaged in “forgery in a gross degree,” aided by “Printers and Engravers that have been employed to counterfeit the direction and seals.”  Anderton pledged to expose everyone involved, including “venders of such counterfeit rubbish,” at a later time, but for the moment warned consumers to be wary of products purported to be authentic Turlington’s Balsam of Life.  In exercising caution, consumers could safeguard their own purchases to their own benefit as well as prevent further injustices to the producer of the “TRUE AMERICAN BALSAM.”

November 7

GUEST CURATOR:  Nicholas Macchione

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Supplement to the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (November 7, 1771).

“A New MEDICINAL DISCOVERY, of the UTMOST CONSEQUENCE to MANKIND; known abroad by the Name of, VELNOS’ Vegetable SYRUP: An acknowledged Specific in all Venereal and Scorbutic Cases

This plant-based medication is proposed as a safer alternative to the conventional treatment of the day, which involved exposing patients to mercury in the hopes that it would induce them to expel the disease through bodily secretions. Despite the known dangers of mercury, and its unsavory side effects, it was still widely accepted in the medical community in the late eighteenth century. The advertisement claims that in addition to acting as a substitute for mercury, it also “repairs the havock it has made.” To emphasize the legitimacy of this alternative treatment to any skeptics, the advertisement describes the rigorous testing and clinical trials that the syrup underwent in Paris. Another selling point is the substance’s use in the relief of a number of ailments “arising from a foulness of the blood” not limited to venereal cases.

J. Burrows, the physician who claimed to be the “sole Proprietor of this remedy,” appears to have been one of several enterprising men who began selling their own version of vegetable syrup under the same name throughout the colonies. A certain Isaac Swainson took issue with this and denounced these imposters in his 1792 work, An Account of Cures by Velnos’ Vegetable Syrup, mentioning Burrows and others by name and assuring the public that “the Genuine Syrup of De Velnos can be prepared only by me.” This reveals that a certain level of competition between purveyors of this cure must have existed which prompted Swainson to put such a warning in writing, either out of concern for prospective patients or, more likely, to discredit his competition.

A 1789 etching published in London depicts angry physicians armed with scalpels and mercury who are unable to contend with Velnos’ Syrup being sold by Swainson, who stands smiling, surrounded by bottles of his cure. The cartoon also includes a reference to the number of people allegedly cured in 1788 and 1789 demonstrating that the syrup remained popular in the subsequent decades.

Thomas Rowlandson, Mercury and His Advocates Defeated, or Vegetable Intrenchment (London: S.W. Fores, 1789). Courtesy British Museum.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

This advertisement lists “J. BURROWS, M.D.” as the “Sole Proprietor of this Remedy,” yet he did not market it in Boston.  Instead, a local agent, John Fleeming, hawked Velnos’ Vegetable Syrup to prospective patients in Boston and its hinterlands in the fall of 1771.  The lengthy advertisement focused primarily on the patent medicine, but a brief note at the end informed readers that Fleeming also sold “Cheap Books and Stationary” at his shop “opposite the South Door of the Town-House.”  In another advertisement in the same issue of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter, Fleeming announced his plans to publish the “NEW-ENGLAND REGISTER, With an Almanack for 1772” in December.

Fleeming was well known in Boston as a printer, publisher, and bookseller, especially because he partnered with John Mein in publishing the Boston Chronicle, a newspaper that unapologetically expressed a Tory perspective and mocked Patriot leaders, from 1767 to 1770.  Mein took the lead in that enterprise and caused so much controversy that he fled Boston for his own safety in 1769.  Fleeming continued publishing the newspaper for only a few months.  He turned his attention to other projects, including publishing an account of the trials that followed the Boston Massacre.

Like most colonial printers, Fleeming supplemented his revenues by selling “Cheap Books and Stationary.” A good number of printers also listed patent medicines in their advertisements, making those remedies the most common goods not directly associated with the books trades to appear in their newspaper notices.  Eighteenth-century consumers would not have considered it out of the ordinary that Fleeming sold patent medicines, though the length and detail of the advertisement for Velnos’ Vegetable Syrup far exceeded the attention printers usually devoted to such nostrums.  They tended to carry popular potions that needed no further explanation, but Fleeming and his associates apparently believed that prospective customers would be more likely to purchase this “New MEDICINAL DISCOVERY” when they learned more about it.  The prospects for increased sales justified the greater expense for such a lengthy advertisement.

October 15

GUEST CURATOR:  Colleen Barrett

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Essex Gazette (October 15, 1771).

“Apothecary’s SHOP, AT THE Head of Hippocrates.”

On October 15, 1771, Nathanael Dabney advertised his apothecary shop in the Essex Gazette. Dabney sold “Drugs, Medicines, AND Groceries” in Salem, Massachusetts. This is one of many examples of advertisements for medicines in the newspapers of the period. Dabney sold medicines and other items imported from London, including “Patent Medicines of every sort from Dicey & Okell’s Original Wholesale Warehouse.”  According to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, patent medicines, like those mentioned in the advertisement, “are named after the ‘letters patent’ granted by the English crown.” Furthermore, the maker of any of these medicines had “a monopoly over his particular formula. The term ‘patent medicine’ came to describe all prepackaged medicines sold ‘over-the-counter’ without a doctor’s prescription” in later years.  Dabney also mentioned the services he provided at his shop, letting customers know that he “will wait on them at all Hours of the Day and Night.”

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

As Colleen notes, customer service was an important element of Nathanael Dabney’s marketing efforts.  He concluded his advertisement with a note that “Family Prescriptions” were “carefully put up, and Orders from the Country punctually obeyed.”  A manicule helped to draw attention to these services.  That Dabney “put up” prescriptions suggests that he was an apothecary who compounded medications at his shop rather than merely a shopkeeper who specialized in patent medicines.  He likely possessed a greater degree of expertise about the drugs and medicines he sold than retailers who included patent medicines among a wide array of imported goods.

Prospective customers did not need to visit Dabney’s shop “AT THE Head of Hippocrates” in Salem.  Instead, the apothecary offered the eighteenth-century equivalent of mail order service for clients who resided outside of town.  He assured them that they did not have to worry about receiving less attention than those who came into his apothecary shop.  Instead, he “punctually obeyed” their orders, echoing the sentiments of other advertisers who provided similar services.

In addition to customer service, Dabney attempted to entice potential customers with promises of quality, declaring that he imported his drugs “from the best House in LONDON.”  He made a point of mentioning that he received “Patent Medicines of every Sort from Dicey & Okell’s Original Wholesale Warehouse,” an establishment well known in London and the English provinces.  According to P.S. Brown, newspaper advertisements published in Bath in 1770 referred to “Dicey and Okell’s great original Elixir Warehouse.”[1]  Dabney may have hoped to benefit from name recognition when he included his supplier in his advertisement.

The apothecary promised low prices, stating that he sold his wares “at the cheapest rate,” but he devoted much more of his advertisement to quality and customer service.  He waited on customers whenever they needed him “at all Hours of the Day and Night,” compounded medications, and promptly dispatched orders to the countryside, providing a level of care that consumers did not necessarily receive from shopkeepers who happened to carry patent medicines.

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[1] P.S. Brown, “Medicines Advertised in Eighteenth-Century Bath Newspapers,” Medical History 20, no. 2 (April 1976):  153.

August 21

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago this week?

Pennsylvania Chronicle (August 19, 1771).

“He hath to sell also, his Royal Balsam, which is made of American produce.”

Two advertisements for patent medicines appeared among the notices in the August 21, 1771, edition of the Pennsylvania Chronicle.  In an extensive advertisement that filled an entire column and overflowed into another, William Young promoted “Dr. HILL’S AMERICAN BALSAM.”  Further down that second column, George Weed hawked his own “Royal Balsam” as well as several other nostrums that he compounded to cure “the bloody flux,” coughs, and other maladies.  Weed’s advertisement was much shorter, but the apothecary indicated that he had the capacity to publish a notice just as lengthy as the one inserted by Young.  “He hath by him,” Weed proclaimed, “a considerable number of certificates of extraordinary cures by [his medicines], which he designs to publish in a short time.”  In other words, Weed claimed to have testimonials from actual patients to disseminate among the public.

While Weed supplied a variety of powders, syrups, and tinctures, Young devoted his entire advertisement to the American Balsam.  This remedy bore that name because a physician in London produced it from “American plants, sent to England by that ingenious gentleman Mr. William Young, of Pennsylvania, Botanist to their Majesties the King and Queen of Great-Britain.”  That botanist was the son of the advertiser, whom Hill “appointed the only capital vender of [his medicine] in all America” out of gratitude “to the young gentleman.”  Hill did allow that Young could appoint “whom he pleases under him” to sell the American Balsam.  The elder Young had an exclusive franchise, but appointed local agents in Philadelphia, Germantown, Lancaster, and Wilmington.

Weed divided his advertisement into two portions.  In the first half, he proclaimed that the American Balsam, an imported medicine, “is now so well known in Pennsylvania, Maryland, &c. &c. there is no need of any further recommendation” and then described its effective use among patients in great detail anyway.  The second half consisted of a letter from Hill in which the doctor described the afflictions the medicine cured, outlined the history of its creation and refinement, and endorsed Young as his American purveyor.  Weed did not resort to such a preponderance of prose for his Royal Balsam, produced locally, or invest nearly as much in placing his much shorter advertisement, though the “certificates of extraordinary cures” that he suggested he would soon publish likely rivaled Young’s advertisement in length.  Although  they chose different marketing strategies, Weed and Young both apparently considered their methods worth the expense of placing notices in the Pennsylvania Chronicle.

June 25

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 25, 1771).

“Boxes of Medicines for Plantation Use … will also contain a Phial of his famous FEVER DROPS.”

When apothecary Thomas Stinson purchased the shop and inventory of another apothecary, he placed an advertisement in the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal to inform prospective customers.  He pledged that he gave “constant Attendance” at the shop, standing ready to serve their needs.  In addition, he provided assurances that “his DRUGS and MEDICINES … are all fresh and good.”  Stinson directed his advertisement to various kinds of customers.  He addressed “his Friends and the Public,” consumers making purchases for their households, but he also sought customers who bought in greater volume.  “Gentlemen Practitioners, both in Town and Country,” Stinson declared, “may be supplied with any Quantity of Medicines on the usual reasonable Terms.”

In addition, Stinson offered a service to plantation owners and overseers, “Boxes of Medicines for Plantation Use” that they could administer on their own.  He produced and marketed an eighteenth-century version of first aid kits.  Apothecaries often mentioned similar services in their advertisements, preparing boxes containing a variety of remedies for all sorts of symptoms for families, mariners, and plantations.  Buyers benefited from the convenience of having medicines and supplies on hand when need arose, while apothecaries augmented their revenues by moving inventory that customers did not yet need and, because they bought the boxes as a precaution, might not ever need.

Stinson devoted more attention to the contents of his medicine boxes than most apothecaries, describing two of the items they contained.  Each box contained a vial of “his ELIXIR for all Kinds of cholicky Complaints” and a vial of “his famous FEVER DROPS.”  Stinson proclaimed that this nostrum was already “well known in many Parts of this Province, where it has been found effectual.”  Stinson asserted that users would not experience negative side effects, having been “innocent even to sucking Babes” when administered to them.  Some readers may have been skeptical about both the reputation and effectiveness of Stinson’s “famous FEVER DROPS.”  Including his fever drops and his elixir in the medicine box as part of the package allowed the apothecary to boost sales of items that plantation owners and overseers might not have ordered separately.  In turn, he could make even more elaborate claims about how widely his distributed those medicines that competed with patent medicines imported from England.  While many apothecaries sold medicine boxes, Stinson adapted his medicine boxes for an additional purpose, marketing the potions and panaceas he produced.

June 3

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Boston-Gazette (June 3, 1771).

“It is also by special appointment sold by Mr. Daniel Martin, in Boston.”

Many patent medicines were widely available from apothecaries, shopkeepers, and even printers throughout the American colonies.  From New England to Georgia, newspaper advertisements listed popular remedies, including Stoughton’s Elixir, Bateman’s Drops, and Hooper’s Pills.  Consumers recognized the various brands and understood which symptoms each supposedly relieved without encountering additional information in the advertisements.

Other patent medicines, however, were not as widely available.  Such was the case for the “GREAT AND LEARNED DOCTOR SANXAY’s IMPERIAL GOLDEN DROPS,” the subject of a lengthy advertisement in the June 3, 1771, edition of the Boston-Gazette.  The Imperial Golden Drops required greater elaboration since they were not as widely familiar to consumers as many other medicines.  The advertisement explained that the Imperial Golden Drops “are composed from the finest essence of the richest gums and balsams of the east and west parts of the world; therefore, this Medicine is truly the Balsam of all the other known balsams.”  The advertisement claimed that this restorative could “fortify the weak & enfeebled parts; to give health, strength and vigour to a worn-out constitution.”  The Imperial Golden Drops aided with “rheumatic and gravelly complaints” as well as “barrenness and sterility in women, & impotency in men.”

Consumers could not acquire this nostrum in just any shop in the colonies.  Instead, it was exclusively available from a select few vendors.  Thomas Anderton, a bookseller in Philadelphia, began advertising the Imperial Golden Drops in January 1771.  According to his advertisement in the January 31 edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette, Anderton supplied customers to the south via “WILLIAM DIELEY, Post-rider, from Philadelphia to Virginia” and “Mr. BALL, the sign of the White Horse, in Annapolis.”  Several months later, Daniel Martin supplied the Imperial Golden Drops to consumers in Boston.  Martin reprinted Anderton’s advertisement that first ran in the Pennsylvania Chronicle on February 18, adding an additional headline and a final note.  The headline proclaimed, “Sold by DANIEL MARTIN,” and listed the price before transitioning to the copy originally printed in other newspapers.  That copy included a short paragraph identifying Anderton as the supplier.  It also warned against counterfeits, noting that Anderton “hath sealed the bottle with his coat of arms, and signed each bottle in his own hand writing.”  For local customers, Martin added a brief note: “It is also by special appointment sold by Mr. Daniel Martin, in Boston.”

Apothecaries and other retailers in Boston marketed a variety of patent medicines found in shops throughout the colonies, but Martin provided access to an elixir not stocked elsewhere in the city.  His “special appointment” to sell the Imperial Golden Drops in New England made him the sole vendor of a patent medicine billed as “the greatest … medicine ever produced.”  Martin likely hoped that such exclusivity generated demand and added value to the unique product he hawked to prospective patients in Boston and surrounding towns.

February 22

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

New-Hampshire Gazette (February 22, 1771).

“&c. &c.”

Joshua Brackett placed an advertisement in the February 22, 1771, edition of the New-Hampshire Gazette to inform prospective customers that he had “Just Imported … A fresh and general assortment of MEDICINES and GROCERIES.”  He listed some of the items available at his shop in Portsmouth, but concluded his notice with “&c.” (the abbreviation for et cetera commonly used in the eighteenth century) to indicate that consumers would discover much more merchandise on hand when they did business with him.  Indeed, “&c.” at the end of a paragraph about medicines and “&c. &c.” at the end of a paragraph about groceries underscored the amount of choice consumers encountered at his store.  Brackett carried so many medicines and groceries that he could not include all of them in his advertisement.

Among the medicines, Brackett listed several popular patent medicines so familiar to consumers that he did not need to indicate which symptoms each alleviated.  He stocked “Lockyer’s and Anderson’s Pills, James’s Powders, Stoughton Elexir, Jesuits Drops, [and] Turlington’s Balsam.”  For colonial consumers, these amounted to eighteenth-century versions of over-the-counter medications.  Customers might have consulted with Brackett when making selections, but they were also likely to visit his shop already knowing which medicines they intended to purchase.  The reputations of each patent medicine were already so widely known that Brackett did not need to comment on them.

Other advertisers sometimes went into greater detail, either listing many more items or offering descriptions of patent medicines and other goods.  Such notices, however, cost more due to the amount of space they filled (rather than the number of words they contained).  Brackett apparently considered it worth the investment to place a short notice in the New-Hampshire Gazette, but not a longer one.  He believed that he provided enough information to attract the attention of prospective customers, letting them know that he had an extensive inventory of popular medicines and groceries and that he charged low prices.  Brackett depended on those aspects of his advertisement to generate enough interest for readers to visit his shop and choose among his wares.

January 13

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago this week?

South-Carolina Gazette (January 10, 1771).

“The most effectual Medicine that has ever yet been offered to the Public, for the Cure of an inveterate Scurvy.”

John Norton, surgeon and proprietor of “Maredant’s Anti-Scorbutic Drops,” and Thomas Powell, his local agent in Charleston, deployed a variety of marketing strategies in an advertisement that ran in the January 10, 1771, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette.  Filling almost an entire column, the advertisement included a recitation of the various maladies that the patent medicine supposedly cured, two testimonials from former patients, an overview of the patent medicine’s reputation in England and Ireland, and a notice that Powell was the only authorized seller.  Eighteenth-century advertisements for patent medicines often included one or more of these various elements, but this particular advertisement was notable for incorporating all of them.

Norton and Powell billed Maredant’s Anti-Scorbutic Drops as the “most effectual Medicine that has ever yet been offered to the Public, for the Cure of an inveterate Scurvy, Leprosy, and pimpled Faces … so as never to return again.”  In addition, the patent medicine cured sores, ulcers, and hemorrhoids, purified blood, and “prevents malignant Humours of every Kind from being thrown upon the Lungs.”  Yet that was not all, according to Norton and Powell, who proclaimed that the drops were effective “in eradicating every Disorder incident to the Human Body, proceeding from the Scurvy, or Foulness of the Blood.”

The lively commentary did not end there.  Norton and Powell inserted two testimonials, one from Joseph Feyrac, “late Lieutenant-Colonel to His Majesty’s 28th Regiment of Foot in Ireland,” and the other from John Good, “late Surgeon to His Majesty’s Sloop Ferris.”  Feyrac’s lengthy testimonial accounted for half of the advertisement.  He went into detail, describing the “Particulars of my Distemper” and other treatments he had endured.  He experienced temporary relief after consulting “an old Woman” who administered “Juice of Herbs, preceded by violent Bleedings.”  He traveled to Bath, but “found a bad Effect from the Waters.”  Feyrac described several times that he was incapacitated for a month or more.  A physician and a surgeon provided various treatments, but those also produced only temporary relief.  Feyrac was “Low in Spirits” when he happened to read one Norton’s advertisements in the English press.  He asked others who had taken Maredant’s Anti-Scorbutic Drops about their experiences, discovering that the remedy “had performed a great Number of Cures, in all the Disorders” mentioned in the advertisements.  When Feyrac took the medicine himself, he began experiencing relief within a week.  Several months later, he reported that he was “well recovered; my Strength is returned, my Spirits good.”

Good’s testimonial was much shorter, simply declaring the “valuable Drops” had “entirely cured me of a dangerous and obstinate Fistula.”  Some of the value of this testimonial no doubt derived from Good’s former service as “Surgeon to His Majesty’s Sloop Ferris.”  His own experience tending to patients likely enhanced his standing in recommending this patent medicine.  Good also framed his testimonial as a service to the public, stating that making it public “may be the Means of doing Service to the Community in general.”

Such stories contributed to the reputation Maredant’s Anti-Scorbutic Drops earned in England in Ireland.  The drops were so effective “in all Disorders occasioned by the Scurvy, that even Numbers of the Faculty” of the Corporation of Surgeons in London “have been induced to seek Relief from the known Virtues of this excellent Medicine.”  In addition, Norton brandished his credentials, stating that he “was regularly brought up in the Practice of Surgery.”  He also stated that the king had granted “His Royal Letters Patent” to Norton for “the preparing and vending” of the patent medicine.

Given the reputation and success of Maredant’s Anti-Scorbutic Drops on the other side of the Atlantic, Norton and Powell hoped to create demand in the colonies.  Their advertisement noted that Norton appointed Powell as “the sole Vendor … in the Southern Colonies of AMERICA.”  Consumers could purchase the drops “with printed Directions for using them” from Powell only.  Such exclusivity served as a form of quality control and guarded against counterfeits, increasing consumer confidence.

From descriptions of the maladies the patent medicine cured to testimonials from patients who recovered after taking the drops to commentary about their reputation, Norton and Powell provided prospective customers with a variety of reasons to purchase Maredant’s Anti-Scorbutic Drops.  They combined multiple marketing strategies into a single advertisement as they attempted to make a convincing case to consumers.