1888 = 2012


If you are looking for a calendar for 2012, consider downloading and printing one from 1888!  A wallet- or baseball-card-sized double-sided advertisement would do just the trick.  A variety of image sizes are available through the Patent Medicine Trade Cards database at UCLA Library Digital Collections, and may be used to generate wallet-sized, desk-mounted, or wall-hanging calendar prints.  The Patent Medicine Trade Cards collection is especially strong in images of pain & suffering, as well as images of pain relief.  These cards comprise part of our John C. Liebeskind History of Pain Collection.

Unfortunately, the advertisement’s lovely mother-and-cooing-baby tableaux was not necessarily entirely accurate.  Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup, which was used to quiet teething infants, contained one grain (65 mg) of morphine per fluid ounce (see: Before Prohibition, a pictorial history by the State University of New York at  Buffalo’s Addiction Research Unit).  The Journal of the American Medical Association minced no words in its reports about the product: “Winslow’s Soothing Syrup, as every physician knows, is one of the morphin-containing [sic] ‘baby-killers.’ Before the federal Food and Drugs Act [i.e., the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906] went into effect, no hint of the presence of this dangerous drug was given the purchaser. Since, however, the alcohol and morphin content has, perforce, been declared on the label.” (Journal of the American Medical Association, May 18, 1912).

The American Medical Association vigorously pursued what it called the patent medicine industry’s “nostrum evil and quackery.” Morphine was removed from Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup and the reformulated product was advertised as a laxative, instead of a painkiller (and remedy for diarrhea), before it disappeared altogether.

Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup trade card (1888)

To download: http://unitproj.library.ucla.edu/dlib/medicinecards/display.cfm?ms=clum_311_s00433&i=1

Online viewer with zooming capability: http://digital2.library.ucla.edu/viewItem.do?ark=21198/zz0002hm76

Patent Medicine Trade Cards

(UCLA Library Digital Collections)


Russell Johnson
History & Special Collections for the Sciences
UCLA Library Special Collections

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