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Early Days Heyday of the Patent Medicine Almanac Almanacs at NLM Credits
Banner for Time, Tide, and Tonics: The Patent Medicine Almanac in America written in green letters

Heyday of the Patent Medicine Almanac


First Patent Medicine Almanac

The great popularity of almanacs made them an attractive advertising medium and manufacturers of drugs and other health-enhancing substances were among the first to take advantage of this. Initially manufacturers bought advertising space, but in 1843 C.C. Bristol of Buffalo, N.Y., in response to a competitor’s securing of exclusive advertising rights in a major newspaper, published its own almanac to advertise his Extract of Sarsaparilla. This innovation was soon adopted by other patent medicine companies.

NY Farmer's Almanac open to show purchased advertisement. The left page is about the prices of almanacs while the right page for approved medicines sold by W. T. Conway, Chemist.
NY Farmer's Almanac... 1818. New-York, 1817. Purchased advertisement

Cover of the Free Almanack for the Year 1843. The Armed Forces Medical Library stamp is in the center of the cover. Free Almanack for the Year 1843 open to show two pages with recommendations for Bristol's Sarsaparilla. Free Almanack for the Year 1843 open to show two pages. The left page shows the almanac for December 1843 while the right page is an advertisement for Bristol's Sarsaparilla.
Free Almanack for the Year 1843, [Buffalo, 1841]

By the end of the 19th century, at least one patent medicine almanac was printed for every two Americans. While they included the main elements of the traditional almanac, their primary purpose was to sell their product. From their simple beginning, they had evolved into colorful and heavily illustrated works with a sophisticated use of images. The covers featured attractive subjects such as idealized rural scenes, rosy-cheeked children, and pretty young women. Others sought to impress with a picture of an imposing manufacturing building, or suggested a link between their product and the natural medical practices of the Indians.

The cover of G. G. Green's August Flower and German Syrup Almanac of 1911. It uses red, white and blue coloring. The illustration is of Uncle Sam sitting reading the almanac with three men looking at him reading. Each of the men have a country's name written somewhere, England, Germany, and China. The color cover of Green's Diary Almanac, 1885-1886. It features a colour illustration of the G. G. Green residence and laboratory. The color cover of the August Flower and German Syrup Alamanac for 1894. It features the garden arch leading into a courtyard with a fountain. The arch has the words August Flower and German Syrup. The color cover of the Burdock Blood Bitters Almanac and Key to Health for 1885. It features the half-length, pose of a woman wearing a yellow dress holding a key up in her left hand. The color cover of Fleming's Farm and Live Stock Almanac for 1914. It features the half-length illustration of a woman wearing a horse riding outfit with a brown horse with its head leaning over her shoulder. The color cover of Fleming's Farm and Live Stock Almanac for 1915. It features a small child in a blue sailor outfit lying on the ground with a wheel underneath the child's left leg. A red cart is attached to a dog who is chasing a cat through a screen.

The back color cover of an almanac with a three-quarters length view of a man wearing a yellow top hat and pants, and a blue jacket. The words above him state I cured my cough with german syrup The color cover for the August Flower and German Syrup, Alamanc 1897. It features a man bundled up with a scarf and a very red nose walking into a pharmacy with the snow blowing into the store. The pharmacist holds up a free almanac in his left hand. The front color cover of the G. G. Green's August Flower and German Syrup Almanac for 1912. A family of four is seated around a room reading the almanac. An illustration from G. G. Green's August Flower and German Syrup Almanac for 1912. It features a town scene with a man holding G. G. Green's August Flower and German Syrup while holding the almanac in his hand. A woman holding a basket with G. G. Green's August Flower and German Syrup is chasing a dog holding a G. G. Green's August Flower and German Syrup in its mouth. Granny Metcalfe's Household Helps from 1910. It features an older woman standing holding a rope that is holding bells on a pole above her head. The color back cover of Rawleigh's almanac for 1926. It features a rural scene of a truck going by a pond where two girls and a small boy are at play.

The color front cover of Seven Barks almanac for 1885. It featurs seven different sailing vessels. The color front cover of Seven Barks almanac for 1887. It featurs seven different breeds of dogs. The color front cover of the Swamp-Root Alamanac for 1922. It features a Native American wrapped in a blanket in the forefront of a Native American village scene. On the left size are the zodiac signs using Native American for some of the images. The color front cover of the Brandreth Annual Calendar for 1885. It features a man plowing a field in the top scene and a man hunting with two dogs in the bottom scene. The color back cover of the Brandreth Annual Calendar for 1885. It features two sleighs full of people in the top scene and two men in a farm setting by a body of water.

The Seven Barks Almanac for 1888 open to show the front and back cover. The scene are seven children at play with seven dogs. The August Flower and German Syrup Almanac for 1898 open to show the front and back cover. It features an blank easel with a man holding a paint palette lying on the ground near a boy and a girl sitting on a hill over looking a train track with an approaching train. A large billboard near the train tracks states August Flower and German Syrup Almanac.


Almanacs for the Immigrant Population

The increasing number of European immigrants in the 19th century created a new market for patent medicines. Ayer’s published almanacs in 21 different languages.

The yellow front cover of Ayer's Nederlandsche Almanak for 1890. It features an illustration of a woman seated in a chair knitting while a young girl whispers in her ear. The yellow front cover for Almanach Francais D'Ayer for 1885. It features a young child looking out a window covered in shrubbery. The yellow front cover for Ayer's Deutscher Almanach for 1882. It features an illustration of a coat of arms in the center. The yellow front cover for Ayer's Norsk Almanak for 1889. It features a shooting star from the clouds above the earth. The yellow front cover of Calendario E Folhinha Portugueza do Doutor Ayer for 1882. It features a coat of arms in the center of the cover. The yellow front cover of Almanaque y Maual de la Salud por el Doctor Ayer for 1870. It features a cherub holding a vase and a cup in the center of the cover. The yellow front cover of Ayer's Swenska Almanacka for 1883. It features an illustration of King Oscar II of Sweden in the center of the cover.


Full Text Almanacs

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