Patent Medicine Postcards

The Patent Medicine postcards were used as forms of early advertisement before Food and Drug Administration regulations were established. These postcards were used to advertise and inform customers on the popular medicines/products of the time. The ingredients were not listed on these advertisements, misleading customers about the quality/content of the product. Most of these postcards were marketed to middle-upper class white families during the late 1800s-early 1900s. Despite that, the advertisements were visible for all of society. A few of the postcards we examined contained racist images and offensive connotations, a testament to societal structures of the time. Strategically put together, many of these postcards focus on the desirable end results and “must-have!” quality of the product.

Click the link below to view our patent medicine postcard online exhibit!