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Patent medicines were marketed in the 19th century as cures for a host of diseases and ailments. Syrups, stouts, bitters, and tonics claimed to cure consumption, rheumatism, loss of appetite, and rejuvenate weak constitutions. California Prune Laxative, (#179, 1885), maintained that it was an "effectual cure for constipation, the worst enemy of mankind." Many of these patent medicines contained alcohol or narcotics. Federal legislation in the early 20th century required manufacturers to list the ingredients and prohibited them from making false promises about their products. This nearly killed the entire industry.

Patent Medicine Trademarks Gallery

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Kola Tonic Wine - #1040, Hygiene Kola Company, Oregon, 1906

Kola Tonic Wine - #1040, Hygiene Kola Company, Oregon, 1906 - click on image to enlarge


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