Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Vintage Ads: Cocaine #3

As already seen, attitudes were quite different in the past to substances that are today seen as dangerous and are prohibited or controlled. More examples:


The morphine alkaloid was first extracted from the poppy plant in 1804. Morphine was first marketed to the general public in 1817 as an analgesic and also as a treatment for opium and alcohol addiction. It was later found that morphine was actually more addictive than either alcohol or opium. Morphine was the most commonly abused narcotic analgesic in the world until heroin was synthesized and came into use.

(Click on pictures to enlarge).
Ayer's Cherry Pectoral
This cure for colds, coughs and "all diseases of the throat and lungs" contained either morphine or heroin.

Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup
Contained 65 mg of morphine per fluid ounce. "For children teething."


Cigarettes were thought of as beneficial and relaxing.

An ad from the days when words had different meanings.

Dr. Batty's Asthma Cigarettes
Cigarettes with unknown contents claimed to provide temporary relief of everything from asthma to colds, canker sores and bad breath. "Not recommended for children under 6."


Opium was perceived to have significant benefit as an analgesic and for the treatment of asthma, as well as being enjoyed for recreational use. Opium oil was often burned by way of oil burners, giving everyone in the room the benefit. Opium was frequently combined with alcohol:

Opium vapour oil with alcohol and burner.

Opium and alcohol were also taken orally:

Stickney and Poor's Paregoric was a mixture of opium and 46% alcohol. Doses for infants, children, and adults are given on the bottle, starting at babies 5 days old.


Starting in the late 1800s, many breweries produced "food tonics," malt beverages containing around 2% alcohol. These “tonics” were promoted as "food in liquid form," aiding in digestion, increasing appetite and aiding in sleep. "A boon to nursing mothers."


Although diacetylmorphine was first synthesised in 1874, little happened until 23 years later when the Aktiengesellschaft Farbenfabriken (today the Bayer pharmaceutical company) sought to produce a version less potent than morphine but ended up creating a substance more than twice as powerful. Between 1898 and 1910 diacetylmorphine was marketed under the trade name Heroin as a non-addictive morphine substitute and cough suppressant. Althoiugh it was marketed as a cure for morphine addiction, it was subsequently discovered that it rapidly metabolised into morphine. In reality it was a quicker acting form of morphine.
The above magazine advertisement is from the International Medical Magazine, January, 1902 and is for Glyco-Heroin manufactured by Martin H. Smith Company (New York). Heroin was widely used as an analgesic and as a remedy for asthma, coughs, and pneumonia. Mixing heroin with glycerin (and often adding sugar or spices) made the bitter-tasting opiate more palatable for oral consumption.

In more recent times there have been advertisements for products in pharmaceuticals which are now banned, including amphetamines and barbiturates. If we could project into the future by 100 years would we be surprised at what is banned then that we accept as beneficial and therapeutic now? Or will greater caution and more stringent safeguards have eliminated such possibility? Will they be aghast at our use of botox and Viagara?

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