A Message From Bill September 2020

We were doing some rearranging in my office a few weeks ago and discovered a whole bunch of old pictures, advertisements, and paraphernalia. I’m sure I have looked through this before but most of it I don’t remember. Seeing as this year we are celebrating our 145th anniversary I figured I better start scanning this stuff for posterity and to share with our friends on Facebook and Pinterest. I began scanning images this past Sunday, starting with some very old ad booklets and almanacs. Most of these dated to great-great-grandfather W. W. Wickel’s days.

Medicine & Remedies from 1850-1910

One of my favorites so far is an ad for the Smithsonian Truss – “it holds in any position”. The picture in the ad looks like some torture device.

Oswald's Pharmacy ad from 1902. Ad features 'Somithsonian Truss,' and was run in the Naperville paper by W.W. Wickel (first generation Oswald's Pharmacy owner) in 1902.

Another is Hamlin’s Wizard Oil. Made in Chicago starting in 1861, according to Wikipedia it was made of 50%-70% alcohol and contained camphorammoniachloroformsassafrascloves, and turpentine. It touts that is was guaranteed under the Food and Drugs Act of June 30, 1906. Wikipedia also notes that the company was fined $200 under that very act in 1916 for claiming that Wizard Oil could “check the growth and permanently kill cancer”. We actually have a full bottle of Wizard Oil Liniment here in the store. By the time the bottle we had was manufactured, it was made it was for topical use only.

Wizard Oil advertisement from 1909. Advertisement features occult themed drawings and promises to cure ailments.

The booklets and almanacs all had interesting content as well as testimonials for the efficacy of its product. Many contained recipes, health tips, puzzles, and historical stories. One such was Vinol, a cod liver oil preparation, “without oil or grease and that it agreed with everyone”. Vinol made many health claims as a “strengthening tonic”.  It contained cod liver oil and tonic iron which are still very much in use today!

Another – Dr. Kings “New Discovery – the only cure for consumption” – had a booklet that contained health tips and was also a “Prize” cookbook. Its main ingredients were said to be chloroform and opium. H.E. Bucklen, the owner of Dr. Kings made a fortune on his products and built a six-story building on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

Dr. King's Guide to Health and Almanac. Cover of the issue from 1900, featuring a cook book and new herbal discoveries.

Medicine in Naperville 1900-1910

A large portion of Naperville residents in the late nineteenth century were of German descent. I found two almanacs from 1909 – both for Hostetter’ Stomach Bitters. They were identical in content, but one was in English and the other in German! Another German-language booklet advertised Wine of Cardui for women’s problems and Thedford’s Black-Draught for the liver. It was actually a senna based laxative.

Das Cardui remedy pad from the early 1900s. Right side has the W.W. Wickel name (first generation owner of Oswald's Pharmacy).

I also found a Dr. D. Jaynes Almanac from 1911 and my favorite – Munyon’s from 1909. Produced by the Munyon Remedy Company of Philadelphia, its motto was “I would rather preserve the health of a nation than be its ruler”. He made many homeopathic products that also ran afoul of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and in 1911 had to remove the word “cure” from most of his products.

Munyon's Almanac 1909. Picture of the cover on the left side next to a calendar for 1909 on the right. W.W. Wickel name on the right side (first generation owner of Oswald's Pharmacy).

It had to be very interesting times for Grandpa Wickel and Oswald both as the world of medicine began to move away from the snake oil hucksters to the science-based medications of today. I will keep you posted on any new treasures I find as I sift through the boxes. Take care and stay well!

Written by Bill Anderson

Bill is the current owner of Oswald's Pharmacy. A 5th generation member of the Wickel-Oswald-Kester-Anderson family, Bill became general manager in 1979 and bought the business from his father in 1991. In 2004 Bill orchestrated Oswald's move from Downtown Naperville to Naperville Plaza. Bill graduated from Knox College in 1978 with a BA in Art, minoring in History. A graduate of Naperville Central High School in 1974, Bill is a lifelong Naperville resident. Over the years Bill has served as a current member and past president of the Naperville Rotary Club, current member and past chairman of the Downtown Naperville Alliance, and as former Naperville Riverwalk commissioner. Bill lives in Naperville with his wife, just a few blocks away from their grandchildren (the 7th Oswald's generation!).