September 6

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

South-Carolina Gazette (September 3, 1772).

“KEYSER’s, Lockyer’s, Hooper’s, and Anderson’s PILLS … all warranted GENUINE, from their original Warehouses.”

Of the several entrepreneurs who advertised “DRUGS & MEDICINES” for sale at their shops in Charleston in September 1772, Edward Gunter provided the most complete catalog of his “large and complete ASSORTMENT.”  He listed several patent medicines “all warranted GENUINE, from their original Warehouses” as well as “Double distilled Rose, Lavender, Honey, and Hungary Waters” and “Cinamon, Citron, and Orange Cordial Waters.”  He also carried an array of supplies and equipment, including “labelled Ointment Pots,” “Glass, Marble, and Bell-Metal Mortars and Pestles,” “best London and common Lancets,” and “Pewter Glyster and Ivory Syringes.”

Gunter commenced his list with “KEYSER’s, Lockyer’s, Hooper’s, and Anderson’s PILLS,” leading with a cure for venereal disease that had recently been at the center of a public dispute between the printers of the South-Carolina Gazette and the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal.  Throughout the month of July, Charles Crouch and Powell, Hughes, and Company engaged in a feud that started over how best to market “Dr. KEYSER’S famous PILLS” and eventually descended into insinuations that the other printer sold counterfeit medicines.  Following the death of Edward Hughes at the end of July, Thomas Powell and Company asserted that they “received a Quantity of Dr. KEYSER’S GENUINE PILLS, from Mr. James Rivington, Bookseller, in New-York, who is the ONLY Person that is appointed (by the Proprietor) for vending them in America.”

Gunter did not address that altercation directly when he ran advertisements in both the South-Carolina Gazette and the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal in September.  Apothecaries and others who sold patent medicines often stated that they obtained their wares “from their original Warehouses,” as Gunter did in his advertisement, but in this instance the advertiser may have intended for that message to resonate with both readers and the printers who published his notice.  Given that Gunter specialized in “DRUGS & MEDICINES” of all sorts, compared to local printers who sold only a few kinds of patent medicines to supplement other revenue streams, he likely did not consider it necessary to make more pointed comments about the authenticity of Keyser’s Pills he imported.  Instead, he allowed his reputation and experience running an apothecary shop justify why prospective customers should acquire that particular remedy from him rather than either of the squabbling printers.

August 16

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

South-Carolina Gazette Extraordinary (August 10, 1772).

“The Public may be assured that THEIRS are the GENUINE.”

When Thomas Powell and Company published a midweek supplement, the South-Carolina Gazette Extraordinary on August 10, 1772, they proclaimed their intention to print both news and advertising as quickly as possible for the “ENTERTAINMENT” and “EMOLUMENT” of the public.  Headers identifying “New Advertisements” appeared on three of the four pages of the supplement.  Powell and Company placed one of their own advertisements immediately below one of those headers.

That advertisement continued a feud with Charles Crouch, printer of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, that the rivals pursued in advertisements in their newspapers throughout July.  Powell and Company temporarily ceased participating at the time that Edward Hughes, one of the partners, died on July 30, but launched a new volley a short time later.  Their desire to engage Crouch once again may have played a part in their decision to print a midweek supplement in early August.

The feud did not concern the printing trade or editorial policy.  Instead, Crouch and Powell and Company squabbled over how best to market a patent medicine for venereal disease and which of them carried an authentic remedy.  In a new advertisement in the midweek supplement, Powell and Company declared that they “lately received a Quantity of Dr. KEYSER’S GENUINE PILLS,” echoing the description most recently used by Crouch, “from Mr. James Rivington, Bookseller, in New-York, who is the ONLY Person that is appointed (by the Proprietor) for vending them in America.”  That being the case, Powell and Company implied that Crouch sold counterfeit pills.  “Therefore,” they proclaimed, “as the above T. POWELL, & Co. have always received the Pills sold by them from Mr. Rivington, the Public may be assured that THEIRS are the GENUINE.”

In a nota bene, Powell and Company referred readers to the third newspaper published in Charleston at the time, the South-Carolina and American General Gazette printed by Robert Wells.  “For a surprising Cure performed by the Pills sold by Mr. Rivington,” Powell and Company instructed, “see Mr. WELLS’s Gazette, of August 3, 1772.”  In what capacity did such an account appear in that newspaper?  Was it part of an advertisement?  If so, who placed it?  Was it a puff piece that masqueraded as a news item?  Did it direct readers to purchase the pills from a particular vender?  Did Wells also sell the pills while managing to avoid a confrontation with Powell and Company?  Or did Powell and Company intend for this advertisement to undermine both Crouch and Wells?  Unfortunately, only scattered issues of the South-Carolina and American General Gazette from 1772 survive.  Those issues have not been digitized for greater access.  The combination of those factors prevent exploring what role Wells and his newspaper played in this controversy over marketing and selling patent medicines in Charleston in the summer of 1772.

August 9

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

Addition to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 7, 1772).

“Dr. KEYSER’S GENUINE PILLS.”

Like many colonial printers, Charles Crouch and Powell, Hughes, and Company advertised and sold patent medicines, including Dr. Keyser’s pills for venereal disease, at their printing offices in Charleston.  In the summer of 1772, that prompted a feud between those printers.  It began when Powell, Hughes, and Company ran a lengthy advertisement in their newspaper, the South-Carolina Gazette, providing a history of the medicine and its effectiveness.  In the next issue of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, Crouch ran his own advertisement, but considered it “needless to trouble the public with more Encomiums on the Effects of this Remedy” in the public prints.  Instead, he offered “A NARRATIVE of the Effects of Dr. KEYSER’s MEDICINE, with an Account of its ANALYSIS, by the Members of the Royal Academy of Sciences,” that colonizers could examine at his printing office.  Powell, Hughes, and Company made clear in a new advertisement in the next issue of the South-Carolina Gazette that they took issue with Crouch seeming to critique their marketing efforts.  That led to a series of advertisements that descended into the printers accusing each other of carrying counterfeit medicines and making attacks on each other’s character.  Powell, Hughes, and Company even reprinted one of Crouch’s advertisements, for the purposes of insinuating that their rival suffered from venereal disease himself, in the July 30 edition of the South-Carolina Gazette.

Crouch chose not to escalate the war of words at that point.  In his most recent advertisement, he proclaimed that “as to my good or bad Qualities, they are submitted to Candour and Impartiality of the respectable Public, whose Favours I shall always make my chief Study to merit.”  That did not stop him from placing another advertisement for the patent medicine at the center of the controversy.  In the August 4 edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, he inserted a short advertisement that alerted prospective customers that “A Fresh Parcel of Dr. KEYSER’s real famous PILLS, are to be had, with full Directions for their Use in all Cases, at CHARLES CROUCH’S Printing Office in Elliott-street.”  He also reminded readers that they could peruse “a Narrative of the Effects of KEYSER’S Medicine, with an Account of its Analysis, by the Members of the Royal Academy of Sciences.”  Crouch suggested the pills he sold were authentic when he described them as “real.” Edward Hughes died on July 30, so the newly-constituted Thomas Powell and Company may have been too occupied with other matters to take notice.  Two days later, they ran a two-line advertisement that simply stated, “Keyser’s PILLS and Maredant’s DROPS, may be had at the Printing-Office near the exchange.”  Crouch opted to advertise once again, inserting a variation of his most recent notice as one of only six that appeared in a supplement published on August 7.  He revised the description from “A Fresh Parcel of Dr. KEYSER’s real famous PILLS” to “A Fresh Parcel of Dr. KEYSER’S GENUINE PILLS,” perhaps intending to defend his own merchandise and cast doubt on the pills stocked by a competitor without calling enough attention to his efforts to incite a response from Powell, Hughes, and Company.  Of all the advertisements he could have chosen to include in the limited space in the midweek supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette, Crouch consciously chose to promote the patent medicines available at his printing office, likely hoping to build on any attention generated by the recent dispute.

July 14

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

South Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (July 14, 1772).

“Dr. KEYSER’s FAMOUS PILLS.”

Like other colonial printers, Charles Crouch cultivated multiple revenue streams simultaneously.  Most printers produced and sold blanks or printed forms for common legal and commercial transactions.  They also did job printing, completing orders for broadsides, handbills, circular letters, and a variety of other items according to the specifications of their customers.  Many sold books, most of them imported from London, as well as stationery and writing supplies, and some printed newspapers.  For Crouch, advertising revenues may have exceeded subscription fees for the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, especially since he often distributed a supplement comprised solely of advertisements.

In addition to blanks, books, and stationery, printers frequently stocked and advertised patent medicines popular among consumers on both sides of the Atlantic.  They did not need to possess any particular expertise to sell those patent medicines, especially since many came with “FULL DIRECTIONS for their Use in all CASES.”  On July 14, 1772, Crouch advertised that he carried an array of patent medicines at his printing office, including “Dr. KEYSER’s FAMOUS PILLS,” “Dr. NELSON’s ANTISCORBUTIC DROPS,” “Dr. HILL’s genuine TINCTURE of VALERIAN,” “Dr. BOERHAAVE’s GRAND BALSAM of HEALTH,” JOYCE’s GREAT AMERICAN BALSAM,” “THE AGUE TINCTURE,” and “The GOLDEN TINCTURE.”  Crouch gave these remedies a privileged place in his newspaper.  His advertisement filled the first column on the first page and overflowed into the second.  Only after promoting an array of elixirs and nostrums did he insert European news received via ships from London.

Crouch’s advertisement included blurbs of various lengths about each of the medicines, most likely reprinted from directions, advertisements, or other materials sent by his suppliers.  The structure of the advertisement suggested that he received some of the most familiar items from London, but acquired Joyce’s Great American Balsam, the Ague Tincture, and the Golden Tincture separately.  The blurbs for those three items included directions, suggesting that they may not have been as familiar to consumers as the patent medicines from London.  Crouch may have hoped that putting less-familiar medicines in an advertisement with trusted remedies would enhance their appeal and convince prospective customers to trust in their efficacy.

In the colophon at the bottom of the final column on the last page, Crouch reminded readers that “all Manner of Printing Work is performed with Care and Expedition” at his printing office, yet he did not confine himself to the printing trade or even the book trade in creating revenue streams for his business.  Like many other colonial printers, he also hawked patent medicines to supplement his other ventures.

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.