Dr. Chase’s Receipt Book: delightfully awful medical nonsense


#1

[Permalink]


#2

Hey, the onion thing has never failed for me. Always get a good night’s rest sleeping alone.


#3

If only we could today dash down to the druggist for a vial or two of the most dangerous chemicals.


#4

I picked up a copy of Dr. Chase’s 1888 edition in a used book store in central Michigan about ten years ago, and have loved it ever since. These books were designed to be sold door-to-door, like encyclopedias, and are physically impressive things. The idea was that this would be the second book in a typical farmhouse, after the Bible, and would be paid for on the installment plan. You’ll notice that it has a birth and death registry (like the family Bible)–mine even had hair clippings from children saved between the pages.

Of more interest, perhaps, to Boing Boing readers was what these recipes actually represented–a kind of 19th century open source movement. Many of these were not just collected folk wisdom, but carefully reconstituted and reverse engineered versions of the popular patent medicines of the day. Dr. Chase was intentionally giving people the ability to make their own versions of branded, expensive medicines, in pretty clear violation of the “patent” part of patent medicines. That is what the subtitle “Why Conceal That Which Relieves Distress” refers to.

A wonderful book–I’m glad someone else appreciates it!


#5

Free scanned copy here, to view or download: http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=loc.ark:/13960/t45q5k89j Why would Kelly Kittell link to an Amazon Boing-Boing affiliate source, for an antique/original version priced at $75? When it’s public domain? Took me about 90 seconds to find this, at a cost of $0. But no kick-back for BB, sorry.


#6

Some people may like a physical copy of the book, not a digital one.


#7

Really, it’s a gorgeous book. Here, ten bucks on eBay.


#8

Agreed, but, not my point.


#9

Thanks for digging that up; seriously! Still not worth $10 to me personally, but nice work regardless. How many are available on eBay for a sawbuck? One?

I’ve stopped collecting physical books, or “stuff” in general. BB seems to be frequently featuring “stuff” to buy somewhere, more and more often.

Guess we’re almost Neatorama now; just a daily catalog of usually pointless but “cool” junk to spend money on. It’s a kind of profit model, I get it… Still my first and last web visit daily, though!

And it is a very cool book, admittedly!


#10

It would be very interesting to have the equivalent book produced today with the ingredients of today’s “patent” medicines.

An edition from a few years ago could have had a method of making your own Vioxx. Of course this year’s edition would remove the Vioxx recipe and suggest going back to eating the frog.


#11

Someone once showed me her copy of a book from the same era. It seems that coal oil is an all-around cure for everything from influenza to the clap.


#12

With the added benefit that you can burn it in an oil lamp if your patient needs light!


#13

How does this compare with “Plain Facts for Old and Young”?


#14

Exactly. Even though the druggists weren’t that great at selling things that would actually cure you, I envy how books suggest that well into the 20th century children could easily build their own chemistry set by buying materials from the corner druggist…


#15

Ha! I, too, have a copy of the book, bought in Michigan with a lock of a child’s golden hair inside. Actually, the book was published in Ann Arbor so there were probably plenty of copies around at one time. The edition I have has a portrait of a much younger Dr. Chase.


#16

Tobacco is also a magic substance that makes everything better. I brought Dr. Chase to my ear-nose-throat doctor once when suffering from vertigo/hearing loss, showing the suggested cure: packing the ear as tightly as possible with tobacco and lighting it on fire.

While she didn’t think it would work, a photocopy of the page is on the wall of her office.


#17

Dr. Chase was intentionally giving people the ability to make their own versions of branded, expensive medicines, in pretty clear violation of the “patent” part of patent medicines. That is what the subtitle “Why Conceal That Which Relieves Distress” refers to.

You’re sure he’s not just talking about farting? I’m suspicious.


#18

Dear prospective Dr. Chase patient:

I heartily recommend Dr. Chase’s tome of medicinal curatives and preventatives, Dr. Chase’s Reciept Book and Household Physician, andcetera, andcetera. I can most firmly declare that by following Dr. Chase’s receipt on page 475 and applying a live mouse to the affected area, I am now free and clear of the embarrassment of Bilious Fever.

I beg to remain, Sirs and Madams, your most humble and obedient servant,

A. Lunie.
Wobbegong-on-Eel, Thrashwickshire, England.


#19

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.