Advertisement for Smedley's chillie paste, 'the king' of cure

Description

This lively advertisement for Smedley’s Chillie Paste makes bold claims for its use as a topical treatment for everything from bronchitis to muscular rheumatism. Oils from chilli peppers had been used for centuries in Central America to treat inflammation, but the chilli was still very much a novelty in Victorian Britain, making this advertisement doubly beguiling.

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.

Full title:
Smedley's chillie paste is ‘the king’ of cures [etc.]
Published:
estimated 1901, Leeds, Yorkshire
Format:
Advertisement / Ephemera / Illustration / Image
Language:
English
Copyright:
© Wellcome Images
Usage terms
Creative Commons Attribution licence
Held by
Wellcome Library, London
Shelfmark:
unknown

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