Age of Drugs

by Darcy O'Neil on December 2012

If you've read Fix the Pumps, you may have noticed that one of the reoccuring themes was the competition between saloons and pharmacies (bartenders and druggists) to hook the people on their tonics. Until 1906, when the Pure Food & Drugs Act was introduced, the local pharmacy / soda fountain had no restrictions on what they could serve and the taxes were much lower than alcohol. This meant that the local bar had a hard time competing and the following illustration from 1900 is very poignant.

The illustration shows the interior of a drugstore with an elderly man, the pharmacist, dispensing a "Bracer" to a crowd of eager consumers, while a young girl secures a bottle of "Soothing Syrup." On the counter are bottles and packets of "Arsenic, Strychnine, Antipyrin, Nerve Stimulant, Opium, Cocaine" and "The Needle." Signs on the wall state "The Killem' Quick Pharmacy," "Open all night," and "Prescriptions carefully compounded." The saloon keeper leans against a column and laments that he cannot "begin to compete with" the drug trade.

Age of Drugs

Puck Magazine 1900 by Samuel D. Ehrhart (artist)