Rheumatism is one of those nonspecific diseases that I have always associated with elderly people. Another way of saying aches and pains. Dorland’s Medical Dictionary (27th Ed.) defines it as:
[A]ny of a variety of disorders marked by inflammation, degeneration, or metabolic derangement of the connective tissue structures of the body, especially the joints and related structures, including muscles, bursae, tendons and fibrous tissue. It is attended by pain, stiffness, or limitation of motion of these parts. Rheumatism confined to the joints is classified as arthritis.
Like I said, aches and pains. Apparently, rheumatism concerned folks in the 19th Century enough that they were willing to part with their hard earned dollars for the promise of relief from any number of patent medicine proprietors, including H. H. Warner.
In the world of patent medicine, most illnesses were the result of some affliction of the blood or the kidneys. Rheumatism was no exception. In his 1888 Artist’s Album, Warner devoted an entire page to Rheumatism saying “RHEUMATISM IS A BLOOD DISORDER AND MUST BE REACHED THROUGH THE KIDNEYS IN THE BLOOD.” (See above). The ad goes on to attribute this so-called blood disorder to “an acid condition of the kidneys caused by bad stomach action, indigestion, and false action of the kidneys and liver in blood purification.” It finally promises relief through alternating use of Warner’s Safe Cure and Warner’s Rheumatic Cure.
On an interesting note, if you look at the bottom of the page, you will see a testimonial for Rheumatic Cure attributed to Mrs. Carrie D. T. Swift of East Avenue, Rochester, NY. I suspect that she was the wife of Professor Lewis Swift, the astronomer who ran the Warner Observatory. Certainly, Mrs. Swift would have been motivated to support the products of her husband’s benefactor.
Warner’s Safe Rheumatic Cure was also the subject on one of Warner’s early trade cards depicting a poor soul with both feet bandaged and elevated and being attended by a lovely Victorian woman with Cure in hand. This card has no written pitch save that depicted on the box of Safe Rheumatic Cure on the lower right hand corner of the card. Obviously, the message of the card was thought to be self-expanatory.
The label on the bottles also offered relief from Sciatica, Lumbago and Gout. Indeed, most people associate the use of foot bandages as indicative of gout rather than rheumatism. The Rheumatic Cure must have been a good seller, because it migrated to most of Warner’s foreign offices including London, Frankfurt, Dundein and Melbourne. For whatever reason, the Toronto (3-Cities) and Pressburg Offices did not issue a Rheumatic Cure. As with most of the Warner’s Safe Cures, regulation gave rise to the use of “Remedy” rather than “Cure,” although the claims remained largely the same.