This bombastic advertisement for Fottrell Hygienic Concrete appeared in a circa-1891 issue of North American Review. (All sorts of products were being described as hygienic at this time in the United States. In a previous post, I featured an advertisement for Harderfold Hygienic Underwear.)
The Fottrell Patent Hygienic Concrete Company of New York went over the top in describing the alleged merits of its concrete. Here is some of the fine print from the advertisement:
- "Health is the Greatest Boon of Life!1 The Fottrell Hygienic Concrete is the ONLY material which (as proved at the Royal Sanitary Congress1 in Europe) prevents the exhalations of noxious gases from the subsoil."
- "No house can be absolutely pure and healthy without it. Every basement should be covered with it. Every basement wall should be rendered with it."
- "IT IS THE GREATEST SANITARY WANT OF THE AGE"
- "EVERY SCHOOL EVERY CHURCH EVERY HOSPITAL EVERY STABLE EVERY HOUSE NEEDS IT"
The illustration with the advertisement really outdoes itself and needs to be viewed at a larger magnification to be truly appreciated. It implies that Fottrell Hygienic Concrete is keeping all sorts of foul and devilish beasts out of your structure.
Despite its efforts to save lives and sell concrete, Fottrell didn't last very long. A column in the March 21, 1903, issue of United States Investor states:
"As to the Fottrell Hygienic Concrete Imperishable Ashphalt Co., we learn that there were some complications between the patentee and inventor, Mr. Fottrell, and the directors, which finally resulted in a disagreement among the latter. After unsuccessful attempts had been made to settle the difficulty, the president, Mr. C.R. Briggs, resigned. This was six years ago, and since then little or nothing has been heard of the proposition. The company has made some attempts to introduce its product, but did not appear to meet with a great deal of success."Footnote
1. The Royal Sanitary Congress is part of a public-health organization in the United Kingdom with a long history and many name changes. Read about its history on Wikipedia. Since 2008, it has been known as the Royal Society for Public Health. It's not clear whether the group's endorsement of Fottrell Hygienic Concrete still stands.