A Guide to the Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil Trade Card, [c.1875-1940?] Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil Trade Card Ms2009-064

A Guide to the Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil Trade Card, [c.1875-1940?]

A Collection in
Special Collections
Collection Number Ms2009-064


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Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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© 2009 By Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. All rights reserved.

Processed by: Lora Settle Special Collections Staff

Repository
Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.
Collection Number
Ms2009-064
Title
Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil Trade Card [c.1875-1940?]
DIGITAL CONTENT
This collection has been digitized and is available online.
Physical Characteristics
1 container; 0.1 cu. ft.
Language
English
Abstract
The Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil trade card is an advertisement for a cure-all serum marketed most popularly during the Victorian era. This particular trade card was distributed by James Aumann, M.D.—a druggist and chemist from Wytheville, Virginia.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil Trade Card collection must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil Trade Card, Ms2009-064 - Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.

Acquisition Information

The Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil Trade Card was purchased by Special Collections in 2009.

Alternate Form Available

This collection has been digitized and is available online.

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil Trade Card commenced and was completed in April 2009.


Historical Information

Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil was first produced by Dr. S.N. Thomas of Phelps, New York in the late 1840s. While the Eclectric Oil was quite popular in the local markets of the time, the popularity of the product significantly increased when Dr. S.N. Thomas sold the formula to Excelsior Botanical Company in the 1880s. Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil became both a domestic and international sensation, and advertisements for the "cure-all" medication can easily be located in family health periodicals published in the late 1800s.

This particular trade card was distributed by James H.S. Aumann, M.D.–a druggist and chemist in Wytheville, Virginia. While little evidence has been found to attach a specific date to this trade card, Aumann was in law school at the University of Virginia in 1879, placing the card within a loosely based time frame of circa 1875-1940. The image of a woman dressed in Victorian clothing on the front of the trade card, however, suggests that the card was produced and distributed before the end of the Victorian era in 1901.

For additional information, see:
Joe Nickell's works published for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

Scope and Content

While Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil was marketed until the 1940s and 1950s, the particular trade card in this collection most likely dates to the late Victorian era. The Victorian era is a period of time that directly corresponds with the reign of the English Queen Victoria (1837-1901). The Victorian era saw the development of socialism, Marxism, Darwinism, and scientific Agnosticism. This period was a time of challenging known "truths." The Victorian era was also a time of snake oil peddlers–a phenomenon that lasted in one form or another through the mid-20th century. These medicines were marketed as a cure to almost any ailment, ranging from coughs and colds to deafness and lameness. While many medicines were snake oil products, some were marketed under a different label, such as "liniment," "tonic," and "compound."

Arrangement

The collection is arranged by material type.


Index Terms

    Subjects:

  • Folk, historical, and patent medicine
  • History of Food and Drink
  • Local/Regional History and Appalachian South
  • Patent medicines

Contents List

Folder 1
Trade Card