Patent Medicine Ad


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Rare and Original 1866 Advertisement for :

Constitution Life Syrup


Other Incredible Patent Medicines, Remedies, Tonics and Elixirs

patent medicine advertisement

(Reverse Side of Leaf)

You are viewing an original 1866 illustration advertising various Syrups, Elixirs, Extracts, Balms and other Quack remedies of the 1860's.  Please note that this is NOT a reproduction or facsimile. This leaf is over 130 years old.  On the day it was printed the Nation was just beginning its long road to recovery from the Civil War, and Hundred's of Thousands of Civil War veterans were returning home, many in very poor health. The combination of huge health disorders suffered by these veterans, and the poor quality and availability of professional health care made the nation ripe for exploitation by unscrupulous charlatans selling their medical miracle cures.

The quackery deception was further fueled by the advent of a National Press, to serve as a forum for advertising the hoax cures.  This particular leaf is from an original 1866 edition of Harper's Weekly, the most popular National newspaper of the day.

At this time, advertisements were not included throughout the newspaper, but  were all grouped together on the back page.  This is one of those original advertisement pages, chocked full of amazing remedies and cures, along with an interesting political cartoon.

I present to the left, and below, digital images of the front and back of the page.

This is a very rare and highly collectible, original piece.  Original advertising from this period is becoming increasingly difficult to find as it is being quickly scooped up by serious collectors.  This piece is one of the best, in that it includes an advertisement for a cure for everything from "Bleeding Piles" to "Old Eyes Made New".  You will get hours of enjoyment from reading this incredible material, and it will make a dramatic illustration when framed and placed in your practice, office, home, or study.  You will not want to miss this rare and dramatic piece. 

Don't miss the detailed description of the advertisements following the picture below.


(Front Side of Leaf)

patent medicine advertisement

Description: Ladies and gentlemen, I am amazed at just how far backwards the field of medicine has come in the last 135 years, in that I have discovered that in 1866 there was a simple cure for just about everything. Don't believe me, then just consider the advertisements on this amazing, original 1866 leaf.  I present for your consideration, a summary of the amazing cures advertised on this leaf.


Life Syrup

composed of

Iodine Potassium,
















What may seem almost incredible is that many diseases hitherto considered hopelessly incurable are frequently cured in a few days or weeks and we cheerfully invite the investigations of the liberal minded and scientific to cures which have no parallel at the present day.

during the past five years we have contended with obstacles, and overcome opposition as Herculean as were ever encountered by any reformers.


The advertisement goes on to describe the miraculous healing powers, of the elixir, including curing paralysis, Dyspepsia, Scrofula, Rheumatism, Ulcers, Pimples, Blotches, all forms of ulcerative diseases, diseases of the liver.  Apparently the secret of this amazing tonic is its blood cleansing properties.  I have come to learn from the advertisement that pure blood is the secret to good health.  The advertisement sums up with:

Constitution Life Syrup

The Poor Man's Friend, and the Rich Man's Blessing.


Now, one might expect with the amazing curative powers of the Constitution Life Syrup that there would be little need of additional medicines, however, there are more amazing cures offered on this leaf, including:


Youth and Beauty Restored Through

Webster's'  Vegetable Hair Invigorator


and don' miss out on:


Brandreth's Pills for

Costiveness, Diarrhea, Joint Pain and Spasmodic Asthma


also enjoy the advertisement for:

Dr. Wm. Hall's

Balsam for the Lung's

(Could this possibly be the same Dr. Hall's that now makes cough drops????)


If you do not Like Dr. Hall's Lung Balsam, perhaps you should consider:


Dr. Stricklan's Mellifluous Cough Balsam


Aslo, advertised on this leaf:


Superfluous Hair Removed

From all parts of the body in five minutes, without injury to the skin by Upham's depilatory powder


and perhaps my favorite:

Dr. Strickland's

Pile Remedy

Thousands cured of the worse cases of Blind and Bleeding Piles. It gives immediate and permanent cure.  It is warranted.


OK, I could go on and on, but if there is simply too much to list it all here.  I assure you, you will get hours of fun reading all the remedies that are advertised on this leaf. 


This leaf would make the ultimate gift for any doctor, or anyone working in the medical field.  It really belongs proudly displayed in a Doctors office, as a reminder of how far we have come over the last hundred and thirty years.

Provenance: This leaf was carefully removed from an original 1866 edition of Harper's Weekly, the most popular illustrated newspaper of the day.  During the Civil War, Libraries would subscribe to Harper's Weekly.  At the end of the year, they would "bind" the individual newspapers into large volumes.  Fine art, advertisements and other illustrations like this one survived until today in the archives of Libraries or Historical Foundations. In the 1970's and 1980's, Libraries microfilmed many of the volumes, and sold the original volumes, filled with priceless treasures like this one, to the public.  I was fortunate enough to buy a large collection of these volumes when they became available.  Now, I make individual illustrations like the one above available to individual collectors, Unlike newsprint of this century, these older, original pages do not yellow and fall apart.  The reason is that modern newspapers use an acid based process.   Remnant acid in the paper causes the paper to quickly yellow and deteriorate.   A different process was used in the mid-1800's which yielded an exceptional quality paper that will last for centuries. Special acid free mats should be used when you frame this piece to ensure that it will last another 150 years.  Acid free mats are available at most better frame shops.  If you have any questions related to handling or framing this piece feel free to email me. The leaf is approximately 11X16 inches.

Condition: The leaf is in very good condition. It has the rich sepia tone that you expect in original material from this period. It has some light spots of foxing, consistent with its 130 years of age.  There are several areas of finger smudging in the margins from people handling the leaf over the last 130 years. The piece is highly displayable, and I guarantee your satisfaction! 

This piece will make a stunning display when framed and placed in your office, practice home or study.  It will become the center of attention, and I assure all who enter will notice it. 

Don't miss your chance to acquire this truly unique piece of medical History.  It would make the ultimate gift for any Doctor.  I assure you that this leaf will become the prized procession of its new owner.  

I Have Many Original Civil War  Illustrations in my Collection, email Me With Your Special Requests and Questions- I am Here to Help!

 Thanks for Looking ! 

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