SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
The Shorpy Archive
9000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing. Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas.
Join and Share

Support Shorpy

Shorpy is funded by you. Help by purchasing a print or contributing. Learn more.

Social Shorpy


Join our mailing list (enter email):

Member Photos

Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

Colorized Photos

Colorized photos submitted by members.

About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Bad Medicine: 1939

Bad Medicine: 1939

Summer 1938. "General store interior. Florence County, South Carolina." A variety of unpleasant-looking nostrums from the punishment pharmacopoeia. Who wants saltpeter? From the FSA archive, credited to "Cox, photographer." View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5
To stay online without a paywall or a lot of pop-up ads, Shorpy needs your help. (Our server rental alone is $3,000 a year.) You can contribute by becoming a Patron, or by purchasing a print from the Shorpy Archive. Or both! Read more about our 2019 pledge drive here. Our last word on the subject is: Thanks!


We kept alum around for canker sores. It tasted awful and really puckered up your mouth, but it was hell on canker sores. If you applied it at bedtime, the sore was gone the next day.

Flavored alcohol is right!

My granny wouldn't allow booze of any kind in her house, but she loved her Geritol.

I made the mistake of mentioning to her that her twice-a-day, self-prescribed "remedy" was 24-proof only once, and was told to "go find a switch and make it a good one."


Iron or ferrous sulphate, originally called green vitriol. Used as a dye fixative in the textile industry, also to blacken leather and as a constituent of ink, it is used medically to treat iron deficiency anemia. One of the side effects is constipation, which brings us back to my earlier comment on senna...

Medicine or flavored liquor?

Wampole's Preparation:

alcohol 12%
cod liver oil
fluid extract of wild cherry
compound syrup of hypophosphites

Another Alum Use

An alum douche can be used by ladies to "tighten up" their private parts according to a pharmacist I worked with at Walgreens. We sold a fair amount of it too at the Westside Chicago store I worked at.

Truth in Labelling

I hope The Dill Company learned their lesson and stopped watering down the spirit of turpentine with kerosene by the time this picture was taken. Back in 1915, they were doing just that.


Add 1 Tbsp of SHORPY into 1 cup (or more) of choice beverage and drink slowly 3 or more times a day - or as needed.

Delayed reaction

Two very old gents in their 90's sitting on a park bench talking about their time serving in WW2. One says to the other, "Remember that stuff they used to put in our food so we wouldn't think about women?" The second guy says "Yeah, I think it was called salt peter." The first says "Right, that's it. Anyway, I think it's finally beginning to kick in."

"Try Me" brand drugs

I think I remember those from Alice in Wonderland.

Incomplete inventory

How can a kid make gunpowder if you don't sell the powdered charcoal, too?


I kinda miss it. We used to buy it (Potassium Nitrate), mix it with icing sugar, pack it into a paper vessel and light 'er up! Great smoke bomb. Probably not so safe.

Use as Directed

Thank heaven they had bottled Shorpy in those days to comfort them!

Uses of alum

Alum has been shown to be an effective agent in the formulation of Warner Brothers cartoon gags.

The Family Laxative

And how does senna work? Sennosides derived from the leaves of the senna plant irritate the lining of the bowel, causing a laxative effect. Sometimes the more you read, the less you want to know.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

Syndicate content RSS | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Photo Use | © 2019 Shorpy Inc.