Advert for the People's Free Stores
Medium: Print on paper
The People's Free Stores was a London chemist's in shop. In the 19th century there were two types of over-the-counter medicine, patented and 'secret'. To obtain a patent, the manufacturer had to declare the ingredients of the remedy. In contrast, manufacturers of 'secret' remedies would withhold this information, creating an air of mystery around their product. As well as this, of course, it sometimes allowed them to hide the fact that their mixtures contained substances like candle wax, sawdust and lard. They could also contain powerful, but addicting substances like opium to relieve relieve pain. The chemist's industry was extensively reformed in the 1880s, and 'secret' remedies were largely stamped out.