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Itchy & Scratchy: 1938

Itchy & Scratchy: 1938

Summer 1938. Drugstore in Newark, Ohio. View full size. Photograph by Ben Shahn. Image scanned from 35mm nitrate negative.


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Town Hall Tonight

The first thing this made me think of was that, in the 30s, "Town Hall Tonight," starring Fred Allen, was sponsored by the makers of Ipana and Sal Hepatica.

The second thing I thought was, "What was quinine hair tonic, and how long did it take to use up a pint?"

Itchy and Scratchy Indeed...

The two men leaning aganist the building look like they could be brothers.

It just might be…

…24 tablets for 49¢

[Each number is a price in cents. For example Sal Hepatica in three sizes: 24, 49 and 97 cents. - Dave]

Some Mighty Expensive Baby Talc There.

Har har har! I just realized that they are offering a choice of 24¢ or 49¢ worth of Alka Seltzer. At first, I thought that the dot in the middle was a decimal point. Even by today's standards, $24.49 for a couple of Alka Seltzer tablets would be considered a bit pricey.

I Remember

My grandfather used to buy Pepsin tablets not the syrup. They came in little brown bottles and were itty bitty little things.

why I love photography

This slice of life--as perfectly preserved as a lab slide--captures a reality long long gone. What can you get at a pharmacy now for a quarter? Also preserved for eternity, that hapless man, scratching his balls.

Some things never change.

Juniper berry oil or tar

Haarlem Oil seems to be still used under that name as a horse medication in some parts (Texas and New Zealand were two places a quick web glance revealed), and is apparently juniper berry oil or tar.

This site has an article from 1908 about how the Pure Food & Drug Act prevented the manufacture of domestic (U.S.) Haarlem Oil.

Here's a link to someone selling a vintage box of Gold Medal Haarlem Oil on eBay for $3.99. Alas, it appears the box is empty. No kidney relief in sight...

Haarlem Oil

Haarlem seems to have been the more popular spelling as judged by hits in the newspaper archive. From 1940:

Dutch Harlem Oil

Sounds like an Eddie Murphy movie. Wonder what it was? Google has zero hits. Harlem was a name from the Dutch Settlement of New Amsterdam, better known by the British name of New York.

Clue from a 1936 newspaper below - Dave

Ron's right.

Good thing the J & J talc comes in Large.


I think the guy in the middle has a itch or something.

[Maybe he could use some J&J. - Dave]

Times sure have changed

You could get Dutch Harlem Oil Capsules for 25 cents back then. Just try finding them for less than $1 each now. And if you have to ask how much Syrup of Pepsin costs now, you can't afford it.

Sal Hepatica

I though he played 3rd base for the White Sox....but seriously, wouldn't it be nice if stores today posted their price so easy to read.


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