Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil Trade Card
Scope and Content
While Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil was marketed until the 1940s and 1950s, the particular trade card in this collection most likely dates to the late Victorian era. The Victorian era is a period of time that directly corresponds with the reign of the English Queen Victoria (1837-1901). The Victorian era saw the development of socialism, Marxism, Darwinism, and scientific Agnosticism. This period was a time of challenging known "truths." The Victorian era was also a time of snake oil peddlers–a phenomenon that lasted in one form or another through the mid-20th century. These medicines were marketed as a cure to almost any ailment, ranging from coughs and colds to deafness and lameness. While many medicines were snake oil products, some were marketed under a different label, such as "liniment," "tonic," and "compound."
- Aumann, James H. S. (Person)
Language of Materials
The materials in the collection are in English.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use
The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials.
Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: http://bit.ly/scuareproduction. Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: http://bit.ly/scuapublication. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives (email@example.com or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.
Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil was first produced by Dr. S.N. Thomas of Phelps, New York, in the late 1840s. While the Eclectric Oil was quite popular in the local markets of the time, the popularity of the product significantly increased when Dr. S.N. Thomas sold the formula to Excelsior Botanical Company in the 1880s. Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil became both a domestic and international sensation, and advertisements for the "cure-all" medication can easily be located in family health periodicals published in the late 1800s.
This particular trade card was distributed by James H. S. Aumann, M.D., a druggist and chemist in Wytheville, Virginia. While little evidence has been found to attach a specific date to this trade card, Aumann was in law school at the University of Virginia in 1879, placing the card within a loosely based time frame of circa 1875-1940. The image of a woman dressed in Victorian clothing on the front of the trade card, however, suggests that the card was produced and distributed before the end of the Victorian era in 1901.
External Source: Nickell, Joe, "Snake Oil: A Guide for Connoisseurs", Skeptical Briefs, Vol. 16.3, Sept. 1, 2006, https://skepticalinquirer.org/newsletter/snake-oil-a-guide-for-connoisseurs/, accessed April 10, 2023.
0.1 Cubic Feet (1 folder)
The Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil trade card is an advertisement for a cure-all serum marketed most popularly during the Victorian era. This particular trade card was distributed by James H. S. Aumann, M.D., a druggist and chemist from Wytheville, Virginia.
The collection is arranged by material type.
Source of Acquisition
The Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil Trade Card was purchased by Special Collections in 2009.
Existence and Location of Copies
Rights Statement for Archival Description
The guide to the Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil Trade Card by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/).
The processing, arrangement, and description of the Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil Trade Card commenced and was completed in April 2009.
- Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil Trade Card, [c.1875-1940?]
- Lora Settle, Student Assistant
- 2009 (CC0 1.0)
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository
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