Selling Quackery In New York – 1919

What Exactly Was In That Love Potion 100 Years Ago?

The secret "love potion" ingredient? It's at the end of our story.

The secret “love potion” ingredient? It’s at the end of our story.

It’s the 21st century. You’d think the number of people who believe in magic spells and potions would be declining. Unfortunately it is not. For proof look at how China is helping to wipe out the rhinoceros by buying rhino horns through poaching. These uneducated fools believe that the rhino’s horn contains “medicinal” value  to make a man virile.

Should we expect with more information and better education humanity has become more enlightened about patent medicine? Probably not. The internet has spread just as much misinformation as fact. And there’s one more factor to consider: people have has always been rather gullible when it comes to falling for quackery.

No, things have remained the same and unscrupulous people have pushed secret and magic love potions upon ignorant hopefuls from time immemorial.

Here in New York City almost 100 years ago, is proof that the city has always been a central repository for all sorts of hucksterism.

This article is from September 20, 1919 and appeared in the New York Sun. By the way, what a great term for fortune teller – “seeress.”


Detective Charges Her With Selling Powder to Clients.

Mrs. Rose Campagno, 40, of 214 East 116th street was held in $300 bail on a charge of fortune telling in Harlem court yesterday on evidence gathered by Miss Rae Nicolette, a detective of Deputy Commissioner O’Gradv’s staff. The detective described a visit to Mrs. Campagno’s apartment and stressed the discovery of a substance described as a “love powder” which she confiscated and brought to court.

Magistrate Huth asked what the powder was for and was informed that it had magical powers of attracting the male of the species. Mrs. Campagno said it was a scent which the male could not escape and was certain to bring the wearer to matrimony. It was a practical substitute for Cupid’s dart, she declared. According to the detective the “love powder” sold for $10 an ounce. Under questioning by the court Mrs. Campagno said the chief ingredient of the powder was licorice.

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