Saturday, May 31, 2014

Object of the Day: Dr. Arnold's Balsam

Click image for the sake of your bowels.

Well, this is one of the oldest of the trade cards in my collection—dated to 1859. So, what does this pre-Civil War, American card advertise?


Well, not just Diarrhœa, but diarrhea with an extra “œ” thing. Okay, it’s not really as much pro-Diarrhœa as it is against it. It’s an ad for Balsam Tonic. Essentially, this was an Eastern European herbal liqueur which was used for stomach complaints and gave folks a good excuse to get lit--all in the name of happy bowels.

The age of the card is evident. The obverse shows a rather smoky scene of a towered-bridge which is something of a staircase and walkway to an observatory. There’s a figure evident on the stairs. He appears to be going in search of something.

Beneath this image reads:
Where is the Yacht of the Sailor cured by using Dr. SETH ARNOLD’S BALSAM? 

The reverse says:

The Best Remedy for all Bowel Complaints. 

Dr. Seth Arnold                                       Pawtuxet, April 4, 1859

     Dear Sir,--Permit me to acknowledge the benefit of your
valuable medicine. In 1854, while on the coast of Africa, I was
taken with the Diarrhœa, which lasted me sic or seven months, and
then became Chronic Diarrhœa, which lasted me until I got a couple
of bottles of your Balsam, which has completely cured me. This was
in September, 1858. I had been to several doctors and did not
receive any benefit until I took your Balsam. Since that time
I have been perfectly well, and have not taken and medicine since.
                                                Yours, &c., JOSEPH R. SHEPARD.

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