Sunday, January 8, 2012

Advertisement for Murine Eye Remedy Co. in "The Rival Heiresses"

The most notable thing I discovered within the 1897 potboiler "The Rival Heiresses" by Dora Delmar1 is the full-page advertisement for Murine Eye Remedy Co. opposite the first page of text.

Even in older books, which tend to have more advertising, it's not too often that I come across product pitches in such a prominent position.

This advertisement boasts that the purpose of Murine Eye Remedy is "To Refresh, Cleanse and Strengthen the Eye. To Stimulate the Circulation of the Blood Supply which Nourishes the Eye, and Restore a Healthful Tone to Eyes Enfeebled2 by Exposure to Strong Winds, Dust, Reflected Sunlight and Eye Strain. To Quickly Relieve Redness, Swelling and Inflamed Conditions."3

Prices for Murine Eye Remedy included:
  • DeLuxe Toilet Edition - For the Dressing Table, $1.25
  • Tourist - Autoist - in Leather Case, $1.254
  • Murine Eye Salve in Aseptic Tubes, 25¢ and $1.00
  • Granuline - For Chronic Sore Eyes and Trachoma, $1.50
It seems, however, that Chicago-based Murine Eye Remedy Co. had some troubles in the first half of the 20th century. According to this excerpt from the Museum of Vision website:
"Drs. James and George McFatrich founded the Murine Eye Remedy Company in 1897 in order to sell their patent eye water. Eventually the business expanded to salves, tonics, baths, powders and pills to help cure various eye ailments.

"In 1912 The American Medical Association blasted Murine for using false advertising. ...The AMA tested the eye water and claimed that its composition was not uniform between sample bottles. It also noted that the simple solution cost the company approximately 5 cents a gallon, but the public was being charged $1.00 for an ounce. ... Murine continued to be investigated by various groups and federal agencies through the 1940s. After that time, Murine eliminated outrageous claims from its advertising and today Murine is still a top seller of over the counter eye drops."
For more, check out the Museum of Vision website, which also has some interesting articles and history about medical quackery.

1. Chapter 1 opens with characters named Lady Glynne and Sir Huldibrand and contains the following ridiculous passage:
Yet they were sitting in a kind of fairy-land, in a place that ought to have been sacred to youth and beauty.

Lansmere Court is the chief attraction of the beautiful and fertile county of Devon. It stands in the rich, green heart of the land, and has every charm that either nature or art can give -- the charm of the whispering trees, of purple hills, or shady woods, of broad streams, of running brooks, of meadows and valleys; the charm of a bright sky, of clear, fragrant air; the music of innumerable birds. Nature had done its best for Lansmere, and art had assisted her.

The picturesque, grand old building, with ivy-clad turrets, gray towers, oriel windows, and a massive Gothic porch. It belonged to no particular style of architecture, the ancient and modern were so wonderfully and strangely intermixed.

Lansmere Court had been sketched by artists and sung of by poets; it was one of the "free, fair homes of England," for which the land has ever been famous.
Lansmere Court is entirely fictitious. Thank heavens.
2. "Enfeebled" is a great word. We should use it more in modern times.
3. You have to Love how Many Words are Unnecessarily Capitalized in some Advertisements, don't You?
4. While "The Rival Heiresses" was first published in 1897, this reference to the "Autoist" version of Murine indicates to me that this advertisement might be appearing in a slightly later edition of the book. Perhaps sometime between 1910 and 1920.

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