Advertisement for Hutchins' Infallible Corn Remedy
This lively advertisement takes the form of a reward notice (‘ONE HUNDRED POUNDS REWARD.’), but on closer inspection it appears that the reward is only for those suffering from corns. It also appears that the buyer has to pay £1 – roughly £90 in modern terms – for that reward: a bottle of Hutchins’ Infallible Corn Remedy. The advert makes reference to “cannasativine” – a byproduct of hemp thought at the time to be useful for treating arthritis.
The 19th century was a golden age for quack cures and remedies. Most often described as ‘patent’ or ‘proprietary medicines’, they made large claims for their own efficacy and as further proof were often housed in extremely elaborate and ornate bottles or jars. The British Parliamentary register for 1830 lists more than 1,300 ‘proprietary medicines’ originating in Britain, the majority of which were tinctures of opium or alcohol that would give the user a mild euphoric effect without actually treating their ailments. Often sold on the street by roving doctors with dubious credentials, quack cures were much less expensive than traditional medical treatment, and for that reason were particularly popular among the working classes.