Racine, Wisconsin: 1900. Envelope or Cover. This advertising packet for “The Dr. Shoop Family Medicine Co.” of Racine, Wisconsin includes a cover letter, unused mailing list form, a “Premium List” pamphlet showing possible rewards, a Premium order blank, and the original mailing envelope. The envelope was sent to the Postmaster of Shawmut, Massachusetts. It is franked with a pre-canceled “Racine. / Wis.” one-cent green Franklin stamp (Scott #279). All of the contents are in nice shape; the envelope shows a little minor postal wear around its edges.. Very good. Item #010129
Dr. Clarendon I. Shoop opened his medical practice in Racine in 1893, and by 1890 he had established a line of patent medicines that were sold door-to-door by agents. Its main product was Dr. Shoop’s Restorative, a nerve tonic mixture of “Nuxvomica, blood roots, hyrastis, boric acid, alcohol, water and sugar syrup.” Other products included Green Salve and cures for Catarrh, Croup, Cough, Rheumatism, Fever, Worms, and Pancreatic Pain. All were loaded with sugar, and some had alcohol contents of at least 12%.
Shoop realized there was even bigger money to be made by selling his medicines through the mail, and launched a nationwide direct mail campaign that sent out as many as 400,000 pamphlets in a day.
This packet does not attempt to describe his many patent medicines; rather it was an attempt to acquire as many customer names and addresses as possible, and it explained how to receive gift premiums for providing that information to the company. Shoop’s “premium” rewards included tortoise shell combs, pearl pen holders, silver spoons, a scroll saw, a box camera, jewelry, knives, and variety of book sets.
(For more information, see “Celebrating 175 years: Dr. Shoop, Racine’s creator of ‘nerve tonic’” in the 5 April 2010 edition of the Racine Post, available online.).