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Americana, Card, Ephemera

Dr. Thomas Eclectric (Snake) Oil

Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil

Snake Oil anyone?

I picked up this little gem very recently.  It’s a 3″ x 4.5″ promotional card extolling the benefits of Dr. Thomas’ Eclectric Oil.  Who could resist a product that positively cures toothaches in 5 minutes and lameness in 2 days?!

The man behind the miracle cure was Dr. S.N. Thomas of Phelps, New York and his concoction was a combination of “Spirits of Turpentine, Camphor, Oil of Tar, Red Thyme and Fish Oil specially processed.” He began marketing it in the 1850’s and by end of the century his Eclectric Oil was a household name.

The product was licensed and sold in Canada too, apparently right up until the beginning of the Second World War.  According to this blogger a Dr Thomas’ Eclectric Oil bottle is Canada’s most common antique medicinal bottle. A quick survey of eBay confirms they can be found for less than $5 … far less, relatively speaking, than the 50 cents they originally sold for.


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January 2012

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