Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dr. Pierces Golden Medical Discovery

My newest listing in the shop, a vintage medicine bottle labeled Dr. Pierce's Medical Discovery. This bottle once contained a tonic that was used to "stimulate the appetite and the flow of gastric jucies"

I don't know about you but to me that would'nt be a very appealing sales pitch, however back in the day it was.

Born in 1840 Mr. Pierce opened his own own practice in his early 20s. Aside from not having any formal education in medicine, even though he happened to obtain a degree which proved later to be purchased. It did not stop him from coming up with his most lucrative invention (which was in the above bottle at one point) a liquorice-flavored tonic he dubbed “Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery.” Designed to cure multiple chronic diseases from thin blood to stomach upset to TB, the contents and nature of the discovery were proprietary, but it was advertised as giving “men an appetite like a cow-boy’s and the digestion of an ostrich.”

The man was definitely a hustler of his time and pioneered certain aspects of advertising. For example in the art of testimonial. He layered his advertisements with glowing reviews from supposedly real folk, often accompanied by sketches to prove their veracity: “‘I must say that Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery is the most wonderful medicine I ever used,’ writes Geo S. Henderson, Esq. of Denaud, Florida. ‘I had a bad bruise on my right ear and my blood was badly out of order … From the first bottle I began to feel better"

Also, Dr. Pierce's probably most brilliant hustle came not in telling people which illness to fear, but in selling them a way to discover entirely new fears on their own. He did it by writing a self-treatment manual for the general public, similar to what you find on the internet today.

Dr. Pierce wrote other books in his time, as well as holding a seat on the New York Legislature and later being elected to Congress as a Republican. He resigned a year later due to health issues. He passed away in in 1914 but his medicines and tonics continued to sell into the 1970s.

 He may have been a swindler and hustler of his day, but at one point or another just about every successful business man or woman is. Whether they admit that or not is a different story. Well that wraps up another brief history lesson on my newest item in the shop. Thanks for reading, see you around the corner ;)

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