Seigel’s Syrup, 1902

I was rather taken by this advert for Seigel’s Syrup. It’s from 1902, but the swirling shapes and squidgy font could easily fit in with the design on a 1960s music poster.

Nottingham Evening Post, 24th December 1902

Nottingham Evening Post, 24th December 1902

The book Patent Medicines and Secret Formula analysed branded pharmaceuticals and revealed the previously top-secret formula of Seigel’s Syrup consisted mainly aloe and borax. Aloe is still a very popular soothing ingredient of course, but Borax is more familiar to us now as an ingredient in cleaning products and insecticides. In fact, Wikipedia lists quite an interesting range of uses for borax – everything from mothproofing, making flames burn green, treatment for thrush in horses hooves, as a curing agent for snake skins and to clean the brain cavity of a skull for mounting. Useful stuff.

The text of that Patent Medicines book is fascinating. I especially like the particularly potent-sounding Grandmother’s Own Cough Remedy. That apparently involved rubbing liquid tar with hemlock (eek) and sugar, then adding alcohol and chloroform. I suppose the cough would be the least of your worries after that.

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3 Responses

  1. Anything must be better than the old goose grease rub. I’m thankful that in the years after I’d had whooping cough I only ever got rubbed with Vicks. I wonder what that contained – you’ve got me worried now about long term latent effects.

  2. Estelle says:

    Actual goose fat rubbed on you?

  3. That’s what my mother used to say, and it seems to be correct – look for “goose grease” and “cough” in the old newspapers. Fortunately, I only got Vicks Vaporub, although that was bad enough – hot, sticky and stinky.

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