Medicine in 1860s Victoria

Holloway's Pills

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Holloway's Pills were perhaps the most famous of the patent medicines, and were popular enough to make Thomas Holloway very rich. Testimonials to the value of the pills can be found in newspapers all over the British Empire, including Indian, Australia and the North American colonies.

The range of diseases the pills claimed to cure is astonishing. Along with Holloway's Ointment, Holloway's Pills could treat almost anything. Analysis of the pills showed that they contained aloe, myrrh, and saffron, Click for reference data which while probably not harmful, would be unlikely to have the claimed affects.

The Holloway advertising changed from time to time, listing a variety of dangers that the pills could prevent. An example, for "Children's Complaints":

"It is not generally known, but such is the fact that children require medicine oftener than their parents. Three-fourths of the children die before they attain the age of eight years. Let their mothers, then, be wise, and give to their children small doses of these invaluable pills once or twice every week... The gross humors that are constantly floating about in the blood of children, the forerunners of so many complaints, will thus be expelled, and the lives of thousands saved and preserved to their parents." Click for reference data


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March 25, 1864 Click for a larger image Click for reference data
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Advertising card


Holloway's Ointment was reputed to cure "Bad Legs, Bad Breasts, Burns, Bunions, Bite of Mosquito and Sand-Flies, Scalds, Chiego-foot, Chilblains, Cancers, Elephantiasis, Fistulas, Gout, Glandular Swellings, Lumbago, Piles, Rheumatism, Sore-throats, Sore-heads, Scurvy, Tumours, Ulcers, Yaws, Sore Nipples."

Under the heading of "A Man who refused to have his Leg off" we find the following testimonial: "From the Kilrush Advertiser, June 2nd, 1860: Benjamin Cox, Esquire, Magistrate, said in the Board Room at Kilrush, that he knew a man who had been in the infirmary and was actually turned out as incurable. On his way home to Kilrush, he purchased at Ennis, Holloway's Pills and Ointment, for, as he said, it could not be worse with him. This man, said Mr. Cox, became by their use as sound and as healthy as any man in the room. These celebrated Pills and Ointment, when rubbed upon the skin, will cure any wound, sore, or ulcer, however long standing, if properly used according to the printed directions." Click for reference data


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