Title: A Treatise on Swaim's Panacea; Being a Recent Discovery for the Cure of Scrofula or King's Evil, Mercurial Disease, Deep-Seated Syphilis, Rheumatism, and All Disorders Arising from a Contaminated or Impure State of the Blood, with Cases Illustrating.
Book Condition: Good
Jacket Condition: N/A
Edition: First Edition
Size: 12mo - over 6¾" - 7¾" tall
Publisher: Philadelphia, PA Clark and Raser, Printers 1824
Seller ID: 011587
Burgundy half-leather, bordered in gilt, gilt lettering and bands on spine panel, marbled paper over boards. xii,159 pp. Moderately rubbed along joints and corners, with exposure at latter as well as along portions of edges. Some surface rubbing as well, but no loss. Lacks frontis. (engraving of Nancy Linton). Signed by former owner on front pastedown and at top of title page (both signatures dated 1825). Dedication page neatly clipped, lacking approx. 25%, evidently to remove another signature; interior otherwise complete. Foxing throughout, generally light, occasionally ranging toward moderate. Annotations on rear endpapers. Firm binding, decently preserved. Exceptionally scarce. Appears to be the first edition of this title, which had several later printings. William Swaim, having been cured of a disease, possibly venereal, by a physician's remedy, about 1822, ferreted out the ingredients, added to them oil of wintergreen for flavor, and extensively advertised his "panacea," especially through pamphlets decorated with a symbolic Hercules killing the hydra. Despite exposes published by medical societies of New York and Philadelphia, he continued manufacturing his nostrum, waxing immensely rich by the mid-century. Even in the 1930's Swaim's Panacea was still being sold. In the New York Academy of Medicine Library is a hand-written pamphlet announcing a "Hospital for Scrofulous and Syphilitic Incurables to be supported by Subscription," an articles of which states that Mr. James Swaim will supply to the indigent inmates, gratis, the "Panacea," which is to be "the principal medicine used." No less a talent than Edgar Allan Poe (in the Southern Literary Messenger of April 1849) took indirect aim at the audacious claims that Swain made for his panacea by asking this rhetorical question: "Are our most deserving writers to be forever sneered down, or hooted down, or damned down with faint praise, by a set of men who possess little other ability than that which assures temporary success to them in common with Swaim's Panacea or Morrison's Pills?"
WILLIAM SWAIM PHILADELPHIA EDGAR ALLAN POE