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.
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.