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[RACISM / QUACK MEDICINE].

[RACISM / QUACK MEDICINE]. "Dr. Ayer's Cherry Pectoral Plaster. If your druggist cannot supply you send 25 cents in stamps to J.C. Ayer Co., Lowell, Mass." (recto). "Webb City Drug Store" (etc.) "It Will Not Make Black White." (verso)

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[RACISM / QUACK MEDICINE]. "Dr. Ayer's Cherry Pectoral Plaster. If your druggist cannot supply you send 25 cents in stamps to J.C. Ayer Co., Lowell, Mass." (recto). "Webb City Drug Store" (etc.) "It Will Not Make Black White." (verso)

by Dr. Ayer's Cherry Pectoral Plaster / Webb's City, St. Petersburg, Florida

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About This Item

St. Petersburg, Florida, 1960. Advertising card, 23 x 15 cm., printed on both sides on stiff card stock, stapled to a flat wooden stick, allowing for its use as a fan. Recto shows four black & white photo illustrations of two little boys, one African-American, one white, making use of the pectoral plaster. Each photo illustration has a caption title: "Put the Plaster over the Pain;" "Cures lames back;" "Prevents Pneumonia;" "Takes the Ache." The white child places the plaster on the African-American child's back, on his chest, and on his abdomen. In the last photo, the African American child is eating a large slice of watermelon. One additional smaller photo at the base of the card shows the boys side by side. On the verso is the text of an ad for a Florida druggist: Webb City Drug Store, St. Petersburg, FLA., Owner "Doc" J.E. Webb. Claims for the pectoral plaster are repeated, presumably ironically, and in bold letters the racist statement: "It Will Not Make Black White." "Fanning" the flames of racism in Florida, ca. 1960: "It Will Not Make Black White." This item is of twofold interest: it is a reproduction of an advertisement for quack medicine from the early 1900s, which was utilized as an advertisement for a racist pharmacist / merchant decades later. THE RACIST MERCHANT: "Doc" J.E. Webb was a modern-day P.T. Barnum, a master merchandiser who employed dancing chickens and "talking mermaids" to promote his products. He started his drug store in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1925, which grew over the next several decades into a massive department store known as Webb's City, "World's Most Unusual Drug Store." It maintained separate water fountains for "Whites Only" and "Colored Only" and restricted African-Americans access to the store lunch counter. By June 1960 the NAACP and members of the Black community began actively and publicly picketing and staging "sit-ins" at Webb's City, their chief complaint being that "Doc" Webb did not hire African-Americans: out of 1,700 employees, only 150 were African American and none of those employees were allowed positions for advancement within the business. "Doc" Webb filed a restraining order to halt NAACP protests at Webb's City, and NAACP countered. In a series of legal moves that lasted four years, and went all the way to the Supreme Court, a final judgment was reached (in 1964) owing to the fact that Webb's City had "lifted" racial barriers, but protests and further litigation continued. THE QUACK DOCTOR: James Cook Ayer (1818-1878) was a clerk at the Lowell apothecary shop of J. Robbins in 1838 when he began to study chemistry and to assist a local physician. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a medical degree and turned his attention to pharmaceuticals, inventing "Dr. Ayer's Cherry Pectoral Plaster" in 1841. He was a master at advertising his products and was a millionaire at his death. [see his brief biography in the Atwater catalogue, Vol. 3 (supplement), pp. 41-2]. His "Pectoral Plaster" invention was advertised as early as 1898 and is not known to have had any medicinal benefit. While the present artifact is undated, it may in fact originate from the 1950s or 1960s, evidently to "fan" the flames of racism. Â

See Webb's obituary in the New York Times on June 5, 1982.

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Details

Bookseller
Michael Laird Rare Books LLC US (US)
Bookseller Inventory #
3204
Title
[RACISM / QUACK MEDICINE]. "Dr. Ayer's Cherry Pectoral Plaster. If your druggist cannot supply you send 25 cents in stamps to J.C. Ayer Co., Lowell, Mass." (recto). "Webb City Drug Store" (etc.) "It Will Not Make Black White." (verso)
Author
Dr. Ayer's Cherry Pectoral Plaster / Webb's City, St. Petersburg, Florida
Book condition
Used
Quantity available
1
Place of Publication
St. Petersburg, Florida
Date published
1960

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About the Seller

Michael Laird Rare Books LLC

Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Biblio.com member since: 2007
Lockhart, Texas
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About Michael Laird Rare Books LLC

Welcome to Michael Laird Rare Books, LLC. We specialize in fine and rare books, manuscripts, documents, ephemera, fine and historic bookbindings, and illustrated books of every description. Michael Laird is a member of the ABAA (Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America), ILAB (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers), and the Appraisers Association of America (USPAP compliant, and AAA certified in the appraisal of Rare and Antiquarian Printed Books). Michael Laird earned his masters degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Texas at Austin (1989) and has more twenty years experience in the antiquarian booktrade. He is the principal Rare Book and Document appraiser at Winston Art Group (New York) and Gurr Johns (New York). Since 2002 he has taught advanced graduate level courses in Rare Books and Special Collections, most recently at the University of Texas at Austin (School of Information).We invite you to browse through a selection of our inventory: we strive to present the greatest historic detail and bibliographic accuracy, even for lesser priced - but no less interesting - items.We are happy to provide further images of any item: please inquire.Order with confidence: we select every item with great care and discernment; moreover, we examine every page of every book. We are always interested in purchasing fine and rare books, manuscripts, and ephemera; please inquire. We very much appreciate your interest in our work, and your patronage. Thank you!

Glossary

Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:

recto
The page on the right side of a book, with the term Verso used to describe the page on the left side.
verso
The page bound on the left side of a book, opposite to the recto page.
New
A new book is a book previously not circulated to a buyer. Although a new book is typically free of any faults or defects,...[more]

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