Quack Cures and Self-Remedies: Patent Medicine

If you ever find yourself watching commercial after commercial for prescription and non-prescription medicines and longing for the good old days when we weren’t bombarded by ads for medication, you’ll find this exhibit pretty interesting.  Turns out people have been trying to sell cures for what ails us for a long, long time.

And back in the pre-FDA days, there wasn’t even anyone to evaluate their claims for validity. The Quack Cures and Self-Remedies exhibit at the Digital Public Library site explores patent medicine from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

When you arrive at the site, you’ll see a brief introduction setting the state for patent medicine. After reading it, just click the Explore exhibition button to get started.


The introduction, which discusses opiates, alcohol, and herbs is fascinating in light of the modern opiate crisis that has affected many parts of the country. There really is nothing new under the sun.


Advertising touting the superiority of one company’s cocaine over another is kind of mind-blowing. It’s a very interesting and thought-provoking exhibit.

Click here to check it out: https://dp.la/exhibitions/patent-medicine

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.