Advertising in the 19th Century

scrofula You know those infomercials that play on the television late at night, advertising products that claim to improve your daily life, or state that they’ll cure any and all illnesses, only if you call within the next five minutes?! Well, before the television and radio, those infomercials were published in newspapers.

This advertisement for Hood’s Sarsaparilla Cures was discovered in a 1895 article from the Belle Plaine Herald. As you can see, the advertisement uses a testimonial from a user of Hood’s Sarsaparilla, as well as a claim that the medicine “cures this and all other forms of scrofula”. The advertisement certainly catches the eye and draws in the audience.

The beginnings of Hood’s Cures had a humble start in Lowell, Massachusetts. Charles Hood, a son of a druggist, formed his own apothecary – C.I. Hood & Co. – in 1875, and offered many  different types of medicines, although sarsaparilla was by far the most popular. Although the ingredients were rarely listed in advertisements such as above, Hood’s Sarsaparilla included sarsaparilla root, dandelion, gentian, juniper berries, and alcohol. For those unaware, sarsaparilla is actually a root used for medicinal purposes – often which it was said to treat gout, gonorrhea, arthritis, cough, fever, indigestion, and more. Some individuals might also recognize sarsaparilla more immediately for its use in root beer.

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Some advertisements just speak for themselves. This advertisement for Dr. Pierce’s Pleasant Purgative Pellets was found in the March 14, 1888 article in the Shakopee Courier.

Dr. Ray Vaughn Pierce studied medicine and graduated from The Eclectic Medical College of Cincinnati in 1862. He studied medicine in Titusville, Pennsylvania for four years, and moved to Buffalo, New York in 1867. Not long after, he began manufacturing his own medicinal prescriptions, and created his own World’s Dispensary Building, as well as Pierce’s Palace Hotel in 1878, and the Invalids Hotel and Surgical Institute. In 1883, he founded the World’s Dispensary Medical Association, where he merged all of those buildings together in to one organization.

Most of his medicine focused on aiding “weak” women – not women who were weak emotionally, but rather those who were weak physically from their strenuous lives. Although ingredients were not listed in the advertisements of his medicine, some of the most used ingredients were often alcohol and opium.

shak courier mar 21 1888 Although this advertisement doesn’t have a drawn image attached with it, it still manages to attract the reader. This advertisement was found in a March 21, 1888 article in the Shakopee Courier.

Similar to the medicine noted earlier, Paine’s Celery Compound was created by Edward E. Phelps, M.D., L.L.D., but unlike Hood’s and Pierce’s, Edward Phelps’ medicine was not listed under his name. The prescription created by Edward Phelps was used in prescription books of Milton Kendall Paine, who was a local druggist. The prescription soon after became known as Paine’s Celery Compound.

As you can see, the ingredients in the compound are listed as celery and coca (the coca leaf  is used to produce cocaine, and has been used in Coca Cola). In some reports, it’s said that 21% alcohol, and even heroin, are noted as ingredients. The advertisement states that the compound will act “gently but efficiently”, but with those ingredients listed, it’s certain that this prescription had quite the kick to it!

Just like infomercials, these advertisements – and their many variations – can be found everywhere, particularly in newspapers of the 19th (and 20th) centuries. In newspapers, these advertisements can be found in nearly every other page, or at least found at the end of each newspaper print for the week. It’s very interesting to wonder if individuals from Scott County were convinced by the advertisements and bought some of this medicine themselves!

 

Photo Treasures from the Lebens Collection – Shakopee Businesses

Over his long career in photography,  Shakopee native Leroy Lebens seems to have documented a little bit of everything in Scott County: weddings, construction, floods, graduations, sports, wildlife, and concerts to name a few.  He also happened to track the growth and development of many Shakopee businesses and institutions. This week we are taking a closer look at a few of these photographs of Shakopee businesses from his collection we have housed at Scott County Historical Society. Spanning well over thirty years, these ten pictures feature places you can still visit and some of which have long been closed. This is just a small sampling of what we have found so far. Take a quick trip down memory lane with us!

Shown: Wampachs, Midland Glass, Shakopee Motors, Rahr Malting, Betty Lu’s, Abeln’s Bar, Mill Pond, St. Paul House, St. Francis Hospital, and First National Bank.

The Other Side of Old Dolls

20120140026For a lot of people, old dolls are creepy. Over the years, the media has painted dolls as psycho killers (Chucky, anyone?), and with the distorted bodies and missing parts that are portrayed in movies or shows, it’s no wonder that viewers get a phobia!
I think, instead, that dolls should be viewed as something that were once loved and treasured. For some, they could be the physical embodiment of sentimentality, and for others, they are. Take this doll, for example. This is a Charlie Chaplin doll from the early 1900’s (probably from around 1915), and was played with by Julius Coller II from Shakopee as a child. Does this look like a creepy doll to you? A doll’s label all depends on how well it has survived the years since its owner last played with it. This doll is in relatively good shape concerning its age. It’s just a little rough around the edges from use and the ever moving feet of time.

Take a look at the next photo, which is a less abused, nearly mint, similarly dressed version of the Charlie Chaplin doll above.

Cat-1102_002_0As you can see, Julius’s doll had gained much wear and tear from the love that the little boy had thrust upon him. Shown below is an image of the little boy that loved this doll so.20120140819

 

Just for fun, here’s a photo of Charlie Chaplin holding a Charlie Chaplin d
oll in 1916. Dolls aren’t so creepy after all when you remember the love and joy they brought children!

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When you’re walking through an antique store or museum and see sad looking, or yes, creepy looking dolls, try and remember that like the man behind the Charlie Chaplin character, every doll has something else behind its worn appearance – the face of a once treasured toy.

Member Appreciation Event

We shook things up a bit this year at our annual Member’s Appreciation Event (3/16/2017). Instead of the same old- same old treats and speaker… we decided to play!

The exhibit scavenger hunt was a huge hit.  Members dug deep into the exhibits looking for snippets of photos to fill in their sheets.  They collaborated – or snuck peeks with each other to try and fill in every blank.

I have to say, it was pretty difficult – but tons of fun!  Before drawing the winner’s name, I read off the answers to plenty of groans and cheers.  The was most difficult picture to find was of fake pancakes found on the stove in the atrium. No one could figure out what the heck the photo was.

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Play didn’t stop there – we moved into the library for Exhibit Bingo!  Using exhibit images instead of numbers on the bingo cards was another way to learn more about the exhibits, while enjoying a little friendly competition, and some laughs.  We had plenty of winners this evening.

Oh yeah we also included the same-old, same-old treats too.

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Thanks again to all our members!  We appreciate your faithful support, and wouldn’t be here without you!  THANKS!!