Helplessley Crippled – Wheeled About in a Chair;
Hospital Treatment Hopeless. No Power to Move.
Restored to Active Health by
DR. WILLIAMS’ PINK PILLS.
‘As bad a case of rheumatism as there is on record, in which the patient had given up hope of ever regaining health, has just been cured by Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills. The patient in question is Mrs. E. J. Curtis, of 1 Flora-st., Erskineville, Sydney, and the facts of her case are known to hundreds.’
The story of Mrs. Emily Jane Curtis of 1 Flora Street Erskineville appeared in newspapers across Australia from August to November 1907. Mrs. Curtis was confined to an invalid’s chair following her collapse at the rain-soaked funeral of a relative – and there Mrs. Curtis would have remained, helpless – her condition deemed incurable, were it not for the restorative properties of Dr. William’s Pink Pills:
Twelve boxes! Talk about perseverance!
A check of the Sands Directory entries for Erskineville indicates Mrs. E. J. Curtis did not reside in Erskineville for long – with one appearance for ‘Curtis’ at 1 Flora Street in the 1908 directory (compiled in 1907):
Always accompanying Mrs. Curtis’ story was the ‘Confirmation by Neighbors and Others’ – the testimonies of people near and dear to her – attesting to her misery and celebrating her return to good health:
Unknown to everyone was that Mr. A. G. Fletcher of 5 Flora Street Erskineville was himself stricken with crippling sciatica. The cure? Well, wouldn’t you know it…
A sciatica cure and new blood from just eight boxes! Sensational!
In 1909 the British Medical Association took an interest in Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills, incorporating details of their analysis within the publication Secret Remedies: what they cost and what they contain:
As to “Pink Pills,” another of the nostrums analysed, which probably owes its popularity partly to bold advertisement and partly to its alliterative name, the method followed appears to be to recommend them for different diseases in different advertisements; personal testimony, or what is put forward as such, from sufferers who have been cured, is made the basis of most of these, and illustrations are employed to catch the eye of the casual reader.
PINK PILLS FOR PALE PEOPLE
The price is 2s. 9d. a box, containing 30 pills.
The pills are advertised for a great variety of diseases, prominence being usually given to one disease in each advertisement; thus four long advertisements appearing simultaneously in different papers were respectively headed:
Afraid of being touched. So sore with Rheumatism. A once-crippled victim tells how Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills cleansed his system of Rheumatism.
Eczema expelled. Mr. John Chamberlain tells how his sufferings from Skin Disease were cured by Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills.
Sciatica’s Swift Pains rendered this lady helpless. Her case had defied treatment, but Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills succeeded by curing the cause of Sciatica.
The Dark Days of Dyspepsia… Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills go to the very cause of the mischief.
Each advertisement included a long description of a “case,” and as a rule a picture was introduced. The following is from the first of these advertisements, and the others ended in a similar way.
THE DR. WILLIAMS’ WAY.
When the muscles and nerves are tortured by poison in the Blood, be the result Rheumatism, Sciatica, or Lumbago, the only way to a cure is to Enrich and Purify the Blood. Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills, in this way alone, have cured not only Rheumatism, but Anaemia, Indigestion, Palpitations, Influenza’s After-Effects, Eczema, Sciatica, St. Vitus’ Dance, Spinal Weakness, the many forms of Nervous Disorders dreaded by men; also the special ailments of women.
The pills were ovoid in shape and coated with sugar, coloured pink; after removal of the coating they had an average weight of 3 grains. Analysis showed them to contain ferrous sulphate, potassium carbonate (these two having reacted more or less completely, and about one-third of the iron having become oxidised to the ferric state), magnesia, powdered liquorice, and sugar. Since it has been stated that these pills contain arsenic, careful search was made for it, but it was not found. The pill is thus merely one of the many variations of Blaud’s pill. The quantities of the different ingredients found indicated the following formula:
Exsiccated sulphate of iron …. …. 0.75 grain.
Potasium carbonate, anhydrous …. 0.66 “
Magnesia …. …. …. …. 0.09 ”
Powdered liquorice …. …. …. 1.4 “
Sugar …. …. …. …. …. 0.2 “
In one pill
The estimated cost of the ingredients for 30 pills is one-tenth of a penny.
For more on the history of Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills for Pale People take a look at the ‘Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills for Pale People’ article by Julia Nurse at the Wellcome Library; or the Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills for Pale People blog; both of which contain some great examples of testimonial advertising and images. There is also a Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills for Pale People Wikipedia entry.