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2009/10/31

Far out, man

Someone had sent me an email with some photos and comments about how freely narcotics were available in times gone by. I tracked the source down to this Italian site. I thought the email was too good to stay buried in my mailbox, so here are the photos and comments (in English), with some comments by me.
Heroin
A bottle of Bayer's heroin.
Between 1890 and 1910, heroin was sold as a non-addictive substitute for morphine. It was also used to treat children who had a bad cough.
Having a cough may never have been so much fun.
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Coca wine

Metcalf's Coca Wine was one brand of many wines on the market which contained cocaine.
Everybody used to say that it would make you happy - and it might also have worked as a medicinal treatment too!
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Mariani wine

Mariani Wine (1875) was the most famous Coca wine of it's time.
Pope Leo XIII was reputed to insist on keeping one bottle with him at all times.
He awarded Angelo Mariani (the producer) with a Vatican gold medal. That's almost as prestigious as the British "By appointment to her majesty the Queen".
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Maltine
Maltine, produced by the Maltine Manufacturing Company of New York.
It was suggested that adults should take a full glass of this with or after every meal and children should take half a glass.
Delicious!
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A paperweight

This paperweight promoted the products of C.F. Boehringer and Soehne (Mannheim, Germany), who at the time were apparently the biggest producers of products containing Quinine and Cocaine in the world.
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Glyco-Heroin 

Here's an advertising brochure from Martin H. Smith Company, New York, whose product was good for the treatment of asthma and for use as a general-purpose analgesic.
They don't make such efficacious stuff nowadays.
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Opium for asthma

Yummy. People would probably have reached for this one at the first sign of difficulty in getting their breath - one can't be too careful, after all, can one? With 45% alcohol to help it go down, who could resist?
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Cocaine tablets (1900)
Apparently all stage actors, singers, teachers and preachers alike would use these lozenges to help their performance. They were reputed to "smooth" the voice - never mind smooth the brain-waves.
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Cocaine drops for toothache
This product was apparently very popular for children in 1885. Not only did the drops relieve the pain, they made the children happy!
Cute.
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Opium for new-borns
A bottle of Stickney and Poor's Paregoric. A paregoric or "paregoric elixir", was a camphorated (or formerly, ammoniated) tincture of opium flavoured with aniseed and benzoic acid, used to treat diarrhoea and coughing in children.
This stuff would have been an absolute necessity for mothers of new-borns that cried a lot at night. Just a few drops in their mouths and, "Whammo!" - the little dears would probably sleep like a rock all night long and to hell with wanting a feed! (Be careful though - not too much, or your darling might never wake up!)
Again, the 46% alcohol would help it slip down. I wonder how many mums and dad's used to take a quick swig too? Hey, if it's for babies, then it couldn't hurt, could it?
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So here we may have some convincing evidence as to why our grandparents had such fond memories of their childhood.
Let's face it - if you were smashed out of your skull half the time, who wouldn't have happy memories? The only surprise would be that they could recall anything at all!

Remember too the laudanum (opium and/or morphine) so favoured by genteel Victorian ladies, and, more recently, for the baby-boomers in the '60s, there was LSD and the famous cocaine soft drink, Coca-Cola ("Yummy Mummy! P-L-E-E-S-E can I have some more?") - and let's not forget Purple Hearts and amphetamines, as immortalised in the Rolling Stones' song "Mother's Little Helper". Here is an extract from the lyrics:
"And goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
And two help her on her way, get her through her busy day.
'Doctor please, some more of these.'
Outside the door, she took four more.
What a drag it is getting old."

The poor kids nowadays have nothing like that - they have to scramble their heads with "legal" drugs - mostly alcohol and toxic "party" pills. All the good stuff is highly illegal and probably prohibitively expensive for most teens anyway.
Who knows but that one day soon we might not at last be able to produce an adult generation who hadn't had their brains scrambled by age 21?
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