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Almanac Exhibit at NLM

A mini-exhibit titled, "Time, Tide, and Tonics: The Patent Medicine Almanac in America," is on display at the National Library of Medicine History of Medicine Division, now to Nov. 5 in the lobby of Bldg. 38.

Almanacs have been a part of American life since the beginning. One of the first books printed in English America was an almanac. Produced annually, they provided practical information and entertainment. Almanacs have always contained health information, from medieval blood-letting diagrams to brief articles on a variety of medical topics in the 18th century.

Their great popularity made almanacs an attractive advertising medium; manufacturers of drugs and other health-enhancing substances were among the first to take advantage of this. Initially they bought advertising space, but in 1843, C.C. Bristol of Buffalo, N.Y., published its own almanac to advertise Extract of Sarsaparilla. This innovation was soon adopted by other patent medicine companies. By the end of the century, patent medicine almanacs had evolved into colorful and heavily illustrated works using sophisticated images. Their bright, attractive covers linked the product to appealing subjects such as country scenes, rosy-cheeked children and pretty young women.

This exhibit displays the progression of the almanac from its medieval beginnings through the simple and crude 18th-century publications and, finally, the beguiling almanac art of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

For more information, contact Carol Clausen, (301) 435-4993.

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