Samuel PepysItem of the Month
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Bile Beans

  • Brown paper bag advertising Bile Beans brand pills
  • World War II era
  • 178 x 184mm (7 x 7¼in)
  •  

Bile Beans initially sold as a cure for "biliousness and headache, indigestion, constipation, piles, debility, female weakness, dizziness, sallow complexions, pimples, impure blood and liver, stomach and bowel troubles" appeared on the market in the final years of the Victorian era in the 1890s.

Image of bottle Although the reputation of the product was tarnished by a judgement in a Scottish court in 1905 it nonetheless became a brand leader in the early 20th century and continued to be on sale until the 1980s.

The Bile Beans Manufacturing Company's continuing success is often attributed to the result of considerable advertising expenditure and marketing efforts.

By the 1930s advertising was directed at young women promising to keep them healthy, happy and slim, accompanied by a glamorous representation of the modern woman.

Even though depicted on something as unpresuming as this brown paper bag the idea of modernity comes across as a better, more exciting state of being combined with, in this example, British patriotism.

 

This regular feature shows special items from members’ own collections. Submissions by email should include a scan of the item.

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Ephemera - minor transient documents of every day life