In a previous post (Victorian Adverts 1) I described some advertisements found in a pamphlet dated May 1893 which was rescued from some fallen masonry from the gallery area of Barony St. John’s church.

Some of the adverts were for magical cure-all medicines which seem to be favoured by the Victorians.

The first cure-all is Mellin’s Emulsion which the advert says was a mix of Cod liver oil and Hypophosphites (whatever they are) which was “very palatable“, “easily digested” and thankfully “perfectly safe“.

Mellin’s Food for Infants and Invalids  is described as “For infants, growing children, convalescents, consumptives, dyspeptics and the aged. A perfect nutriment in acute illnesses and all wasting diseases.”

I also managed to find this old coloured advert from 1880 on the internet for the emulsion –

img_2325  mellins

And these pages from an 1891 booklet to accompany Mellin’s Food for Infants and Invalids.


Another product advertised is Smedley’s Chillie Paste  claimed to cure Rheumatism, Gout, Lumbago, Bronchitis, Sore Throats, Neuralgia and Sciatica among other illnesses.

It contained oils from chilli peppers and although chillies had been used to treat inflammation for over a century in the USA, the chilli was still very much a novelty in Victorian Britain.

Smedley’s Chillie Paste was so popular that it later became known as “The King of all Cures” (once Edward VII came to the throne upon the death of Queen Victoria in 1901) as this colour advert I found on the internet shows –

img_2323  smedley

Lascelles’ Pills seemed to be taken “for the most obstinate cases” if the chilli paste didn’t work so I dread to think what might be in them. :-/

Allcock’s Porous Plasters also intrigued me and my investigations showed that Thomas Allcock (1815–1891) was the inventor (in 1854) and subsequent founder of the Allcock Manufacturing Company.

Thomas, although born in Birmingham, England, emigrated to the USA in 1845, settled in New York and opened a drug store. He was later called up and served as an artillery officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War (1861-1865).

I love the heading on my advert which says “Here you have a remedy that has made millions of ladies bless the maker of Allcock’s Porous Plasters” 😀 and this alternate advert which I found (on the left) which says that Allcock’s Porous Plasters can cure almost anything and could even be used to stop a cough. 🙂

img_2319  allcocks

Symington’s Edinburgh Coffee Essences were produced in bottles alongside Symington’s Dandelion Coffee Essence by Thomas Symington & Co. of Edinburgh around 1880 which ties in with the 1893 date of this pamphlet.

img_2328    crop

Symington’s coffee essences preceded the more popular and still going Camp Coffee in bottles produced by Robert Paterson of Glasgow from 1897 onwards.

Thomas Symington’s posters advertised that by adding boiling water to his essence, you could have “a cup of coffee in one minute” – the world’s first instant coffee.

Between 1880 and 1890, the Victorians recognised that the caffeine in tea and coffee could cause an increase in heart rates as well as stomach upsets and sleeplessness so Thomas Symington rose to the challenge and developed an alternative hot drink using dandelion roots –Symington’s Dandelion Coffee Essence.

The health benefits of dandelion coffee were promoted as almost a cure-all aiding everything from stomach upsets to gout and even bad tempers. 🙂

Both Symington’s products were sold throughout the British Empire and into the USA, winning many medals and prizes for their exceptionally high quality along the way.

Symington’s continued to be sold until 1975 when the company was acquired by G R Lane Health Products and is apparently still available today from specialist health stores.