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In the days before the dark, mysterious Apothecary Shops, the home-made remedies used were frequently as horrible as the diseases which they were supposed to cure. Here are a few actively used in 1671:
Receipt for the Scratches. One quart fishworms, washed clean, one pound hog's lard stewed together; filtered through a strainer and add one-half pint of oil of turpentine, one half pint good brandy. Simmer it well and it is fit for use.
(Well, at least the worms were washed and the brandy good.) For ye toothe ache. Take a little piece of opium as big as a great pinnes head and put it into the hollow place of the Akeing Toothe and it will guie pleasant Ease.
This remedy is followed by the reassuring note, "Often tryed by me apon many People and never fayled."
By 1896 patent medicines had overshadowed the do-it-yourself remedies as seen in the newspaper and magazine advertisements of that date. One such advertisement offers:
No matter how painful the disease or of how long standing, if taken as directed, "5DROPS" will always cure.
(What will it cure, you wonder? Well the ad continues . . . )
Rheumatism, Sciatica, Neuralgia, Dyspepsia, Backache, Asthma, Hay Fever, Catarrh, Sleeplessness, Nervousness, Nervous and Neuralgic Headaches, Heart Weakness, Toothache, Earache, Croup, La Grippe, Malaria, Creeping Numbness, Bronchitis, and kindred diseases, one and all quickly and permanently yield to this almost magical medicine.
Other advertisements in the same periodical also had cures for a11 common ailments from overweight to falling hair. Even love charms and eye glasses by mail were among the classified sections in the "good old days," and Lydia E. Pinkham had the answer to all of woman's troubles.
As the drug stores of their day, the Apothecary Shops were dim and gloomy places where portions of skeletons hung from the ceiling. Great parchment books, bellows and hour glasses were prominent and mortars and pestles were indispensable. Cobwebs and dust were frequent decorations over all else.
The varied and interestingly shaped bottles which were so important then are collected today. The largest bottles can be used for cookie jars, and the smaller sizes for anything from candy to whatever the size and shape suggests to you. Those previously used for medicines must be thoroughly cleaned before using of course.
Apothecary chests contain many drawers, usually equal rows of square drawers. These roomy chests are wonderful for catchalls to store many things conveniently. They can be used in almost any room so long as they harmonize with the furniture already there. In a bedroom, the multitudinous drawers provide storage for out-of-season sweaters, scarves, and woolens during the summer; and for bathing suits, shorts, tee-shirts, sandals and summer clothing during the cold weather. In the dining room, they can hold silver, silver polish, furniture polish, frogs, needlepoint holders, floral day, candles, cheese board, wooden salad bowls, place mats, napkins, or anything that does not have a place of its own. In the kitchen, the Apothecary chests are useful for storing smaller pots, lids, extra light bulbs, cookie press, cake decorater set, and the lessoften-used utensils.