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Balm of America: Patent Medicine Collection

Balm of America Banner image, a collection of medicine

About the Collection
The Smithsonian Institution began to collect objects related to health and medicine in 1881. It first obtained examples of patent medicines in 1930, acquiring packages of Haarlem Oil (or Dutch Drops), Dr. John Hooper’s Female Pills, and Roche’s Herbal Embrocation. Since then the Smithsonian’s collection of patent medicines has expanded to over 4,000 products, dating from the 19th century to the present day.

About this Object Group
This group of objects features examples from this collection, found in the Division of Medicine and Science at the National Museum of American History. Each entry includes a photo of the object, the product’s name, maker’s name, place of manufacture, and a date range. Ingredients and therapeutic claims are included when indicated on the product packaging.

Browse
Browse the collection by therapeutic category. You can also use the keyword search (at right) which searches all fields of information.

More Information
Learn more about patent medicine history and how this history is revealed in examples from our collection. Questions or comments? Contact us.