During the heyday of nineteenth-century patent medicines, one of the common bottled remedies was Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound, first marketed in 1873. Advertised as "A Positive Cure," it was intended "For all those painful Complaints and Weaknesses so common to our best female population." Indeed, it was said to cure "all Ovarian troubles" and to "dissolve and expel tumors from the uterus in an early stage of its development." Among other benefits, it was also sold for "the cure of Kidney Complaints of either sex."
Pinkham's products also included Lydia E. Pinkham's Liver Pills, advertised to "cure constipation, biliousness, and torpidity of the liver," and "Lydia E. Pinkham's Herb Medicine," which was said to be "a reliable spring tonic for all who need such medicine." The products often featured her portrait, making her the most widely recognized American woman of her day.
This display features in the background a modern enlargement of one of Lydia E. Pinkham's chromolithographed trade cards (gift of Robert Macoy). Also shown (from the left) are an actual trade card, a box of her Liver Pills, another trade card bearing her portrait, and a bottle embossed "Lydia E. Pinkham's/Medicine." In the foreground is Lydia E. Pinkham's Private Text-Book offering health advice on "delicate subjects" for women.