Blog Archives for January 2014

Dr. Bateman’s Pectoral Drops

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
January 29, 2014

During some research, I was intrigued by an entry in an old general store ledger from West Liberty, Kentucky, in 1830 for “1 Vial Batmans [sic] drops.” Although I suspected this was just a patent medicine of the day, I was surprised to learn of its staying power as a product marketed (and imitated) for some two centuries.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Universe

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
January 17, 2014

Lynn Sherr has done an excellent job of profiling (in the good sense of that word!) Neil deGrasse Tyson in Parade magazine (January 12, 2014). At the bottom of the handsome cover photo—depicting the astrophysicist who is known through the known world—are the words, “Master of the Universe.” The label, at once lighthearted and profound, perfectly fits Tyson.

More on St. Jacob’s

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
January 15, 2014

I recently acquired another bottle (see previous blog) advertising St. Jacob’s Oil. However, I was immediately suspicious of it, not the least reason being the price—too cheap for such an item. It was also unlike previous bottles of that famous old liniment—in shape and size as well as means of manufacture: it had not been blown in a mold but was produced by an automatic bottle machine. Could it simply be a more modern example of the product?

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St. Jacob’s Oil

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
January 08, 2014

St. Jacob’s Oil, a liniment, was one of the common proprietary remedies for rheumatism and other aches and pains in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its advertisements were not only painted on barns but on fences and even rocks, proclaiming, “St. Jacob’s Oil Conquers Pain.” Sometimes the remedy was touted in verse (Fike 2006, 195):

“Philomena”: A Nickell-odeon Review

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
January 06, 2014

Judi Dench is wonderful in the title role of Philomena Lee, a real woman who spent half a century searching for the out-of-wedlock son she had been forced to give up.