I’m not sure when newspapers stopped accepting ads for old-style patent medicines – or even if they ever have – but there were still ads for them as late as 1955. The August 25 1955 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contains this:


Templeton’s Raz-Mah capsules had been around for a long time – a trademark web site states that they were trademarked in 1921. This Flickr page has a photo of a Raz-Mah box (and a comment from Mr. Templeton’s great-grandson).

This page from the Eaton’s 1948-1949 catalogue includes a number of medicines, including Raz-Mah Reds (which presumably were discontinued by 1955, since they’re not mentioned in this ad). I have no idea what the difference is between Raz-Mah Greys and Raz-Mah Browns, other than that the latter were more expensive.

After reading this, I was curious: was Mrs. Victor Lee of 182 Sherbourne Street a real person? I decided to find out by looking in the Toronto city directory. The 1955 directory shows nobody at 182 Sherbourne Street:


Aha, I thought. But then I tried 1956, and lo and behold:


There appears to be a Mr. Victor Lee. Not sure whether there is a Mrs. Lee, but I would be surprised if the patent medicine people would go to the trouble of inventing a fake spouse for a real person. If she was fake, Mr. Lee would have been quite surprised to read that day’s paper!

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