Victorian remedy adverts

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'Dinnesford's Fluid Magneisa' Remedies for a range of ailments were advertised on the front pages of Brighton's local papers in the 1870s
Remedies for a range of ailments were advertised on the front pages of Brighton’s local papers in the 1870s

One of the things that always astonishes school groups when they visit Brighton History Centre is the visual difference between nineteenth-century newspapers and those we are used to seeing today. The size of the pages, density of text and lack of colour and photography make them quite unlike their modern equivalents. What’s also remarkable is the fact that, rather than carrying the main news stories of the day, much of the front page was dedicated to advertising, in particular small ads, many of which reveal the Victorian preoccupation with health.

The front page of the Brighton Herald on 13 January 1872, for example, promotes remedies for deafness, gout and rheumatism, as well as a ‘Self Cure for Invalids, at home and abroad – health and manhood restored (without medicine)’. Also on offer is Holloway’s Ointment, for sufferers from coughs, colds, bronchitis, asthma and ‘irregular action of the heart’, who are ‘earnestly recommended to rub [it] all over the throat, breast and back, as the case may require…’ And for those who had perhaps overindulged while staying in one of Brighton’s grand hotels, there was ‘Clarke’s Celebrated Blood Mixture, for cleansing and clearing the blood of all impurities, whether arising from youthful indiscretion or any other cause.’

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