A charmed (?) source for pharmaceuticals, ex-magician John A. Hamlin added the botanicals sassafras and cloves to a chloroform elixir that also contained turpentine, ammonia, and camphor. He then bottled it in Chicago (bottom left) as “Hamlins Wizard Oil.” This magical medicine was peddled as an external liniment and topical remedy for toothache and earache. Unfortunately, Hamlin also began encouraging internal use of his panacea as a cure for headache, diphtheria, pneumonia, rabies, and cancer. (Granted, the roughly 60% alcohol content may have provided imbibers with transient relief from their aches and pains.) Among many entertainers advertising Hamlins Wizard Oil in the mid-1930s, the Renfro Valley Folks (top and bottom right) broadcast their country music by radio from Kentucky to most of the United States. (Copyright © the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology.)

A charmed (?) source for pharmaceuticals, ex-magician John A. Hamlin added the botanicals sassafras and cloves to a chloroform elixir that also contained turpentine, ammonia, and camphor. He then bottled it in Chicago (bottom left) as “Hamlins Wizard Oil.” This magical medicine was peddled as an external liniment and topical remedy for toothache and earache. Unfortunately, Hamlin also began encouraging internal use of his panacea as a cure for headache, diphtheria, pneumonia, rabies, and cancer. (Granted, the roughly 60% alcohol content may have provided imbibers with transient relief from their aches and pains.) Among many entertainers advertising Hamlins Wizard Oil in the mid-1930s, the Renfro Valley Folks (top and bottom right) broadcast their country music by radio from Kentucky to most of the United States. (Copyright © the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology.)

George S. Bause, M.D., M.P.H., Honorary Curator and Laureate of the History of Anesthesia, Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology, Schaumburg, Illinois, and Clinical Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. UJYC@aol.com.