Wednesday, April 8, 2015

page 128 -- Mrs. E. Gruelle, Carter's Little Liver Pills, Collins Centre, NY, Moore's Throat & Lung Lozenges

updated 16 January 2016
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East Carolina University shows us the back of this card:


The Encyclopedia of New Jersey, courtesy Google Books, outlines some of the corporate history of the Carter Medicine Company below.
Bibliographic information

At this time, I have no idea which community hosted 23 & 25 Avon St.


As it happens, East Carolina University
"has our back" on this card (see below)




Of the many Carter products on this page, the one most of us have heard of is "Little Liver Pills." Turns out one of the active ingredients (in this case there actually was one), podophyllum resin, was a laxative with one additional property. If taken internally, it is poisonous (see Dr. Jack Fincham's notes on eHive).

I cannot think of any reason why a laxative would have any effect on a headache, but I suppose it's possible that one might be associated with the other. On the other hand, if you're dead it's doubtful you know whether your head aches any more.

According to page 51 of Street, John Phillips. The Composition of Certain Patent And Proprietary Medicines. Chicago: American Medical Association, 1917, the composition of Carter's Little Liver Pills at that time was:



We tend to snicker at these ads, a hundred years or so after they were written. Federal requirements have resulted in fewer grandiose claims by drug companies. In our era, it's dietary supplements and nutritional aids that have been known to make themselves seem more important to our well-being than they really are.

Bioethics* is one field of study that examines such things as truth in medical advertising. Most of us rely on the expertise of physicians when making personal medical decisions. One of the most unsettling experiences in a doctor's waiting room (aside from the anticipation of one of those nasty shots) is to see men (usually) with large briefcases--obviously not patients--pass through to hawk their pills. Will your doctor be swayed by their sales pitch?

For a concise and accessible discussion on this subject, see "The Return of Carter's Little Liver Pills?" on the Trinity International University site. If you follow this link, be sure to read the comments and response in addition to the lead article.

Meanwhile, it's back to the era of one pill cures all! (At least they may give you either a thorough cleaning of your innards or maybe enough intoxicative effect so that you don't feel your pain....)


No, I had never heard of "Collins Centre" until today.
Collins Center is a hamlet south of Buffalo, NY. Google Street View (2011) pinpoints a couple of structures that are of interest:

What appears to have been a commercial building is on the left.
Collins Center Post Office is on the right of this Google Street View.
Collins Center Post Office as is appeared on
Google Street View in 2011.
I hope it's still there!
From http://history.rays-place.com/ny/collins.htm :

HISTORY of COLLINS, NY FROM OUR COUNTY AND ITS PEOPLE    
A DESCRIPTIVE WORK ON ERIE COUNTY
NEW YORK

EDITED BY: TRUMAN C. WHITE
THE BOSTON HISTORY COMPANY, PUBLISHERS 1898




I do not know how it came to be that trading cards from such a small town in western NY got to be part of a scrapbook assembled for her children by Emma Jane Arnold in Bristol, CT. Her husband, my great-grandfather, came from Broadalbin, NY, but that's just west of Albany--far distant from Collins Center.



What was all this "nervousness" about? We certainly have plenty of causes for alarm these days, but nobody I know tells me they are suffering from a case of the nerves. Maybe we're just nuts.

Feeling scholarly, are you? There's a very good thesis on the subject,

Click HERE to read.


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