Why suffer the handicap of looking old? (1912)

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5 Responses to Why suffer the handicap of looking old? (1912)

  1. skippy says:

    Fascinating. This is an advertisement for Wyeth’s Sage and Sulpher Hair Remedy by the Wyeth Chemical Corporation.

    In 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt signed into law the FDA– the Federal Food and Drug Act– improving consumer’s safety and the correct labeling of dubious goods, snake oil potions, and everything else under the sun. The responsibility for examining food and drugs for such “adulteration” or “misbranding” was given to the FDA. Big business fought tooth and nail against this oversight, seeing it as governmental interference of the private marketplace on a massive scale.

    Wyeth’s Sage and Sulpher Hair Remedy failed to make the FDA grade in 1912– the year this famous advertisement appeared. The ‘Remedy’ was seized after being shipped from New York to New Jersey– landing itself, Wyeth, and it’s claimed curative ingredients into the jurisdiction of the Southern District of New York Court, which issued it’s own judgement of ‘Wyeth’s Remedy’ in 1916.

    According to the American Medical Association’s 1921 Nostrums and Quackery, Vol II:

    Wyeth’s Sage and Sulphur Hair Remedy:โ€”This nostrum was analyzed by the federal chemists and found to contain sulphur, lead acetate, glycerin and cayenne pepper. The government charged that this product was misbranded in that the name “Sage and Sulphur Hair Remedy” was false and misleading because it indicated to the public that the preparation contained sage and sulphur, harmless medicinal agents, as its principal and most active ingredients, when, as a matter of fact, its principal and most active ingredient was lead acetate, a poisonous and dangerous substance.”

    “The company pleaded guilty and was fined $50. In entering its plea of guilty the company declared that it did not consider that it was guilty but that it was unwilling to fight the case in the courts for the reason that it considered the questions involved “would be purely academic.” โ€” {Notice of Judgment No. 4486; issued Nov. 13, 1916.]”

    $50? That was the cost of 100 bottles (at 50 cents each) of the stuff back in the day– and the price of doing business. What a bargain for the Wyeth Chemical Company: containing no sage as an ingredient but slathering all the lead toxins into one’s graying coiffure that it could muster. No wonder big business didn’t like the new FDA labeling laws.

    Your picture has quite a bit of consumer history with the FDA and it’s beginning origins, Lynette.

    • Lynette M says:

      This is wonderful Skippy, but I’m starting to feel a bit guilty that I’ve sparked an addiction. Healthier than drugs or alcohol, yes?

      If you ever have info you’d like to share as a post, just let me know, as I’d love to offer this as a forum for what is obviously excellent research–and just plain great stuff ๐Ÿ™‚

      The fact of the lead is still sinking in… and makes me wonder how many other products were dangerous (and how many still are).

  2. skippy says:

    Wyeth’s Remedy certainly made ‘Your Gray Hairs Vanish’– with the rest of your hairline, too.

    Enjoying history and research, I appreciate the opportunity learning and practicing both, and hearing other’s collective comments. This is a wonderful site; a true local gem. Thank you.

    • Lynette M says:

      Hey there,
      Glad you’re enjoying it. Obviously I am too. The contributions (and to be honest, the stats that show folks do visit and enjoy the site) keep it really fun for me, too.

  3. […] As well as the newspapers from 1912 that tell you how to rid yourself of gray hair (at your own peril, it seems). […]

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