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Quackery and Commerce in Seventeenth-Century London: the proprietary medicine business of Anthony Daffy

David Boyd Haycock|, Patrick Wallis|
The Wellcome Trust, Medical History supplement 25 (December 2005)

Anthony Daffy's Elixir 'Account Book' is a rare surviving document, offering a unique insight into the medical marketplace of later seventeenth century England. Deposited in the National Archives as part of a complex lawsuit, the Account Book records in meticulous detail the sales beyond London in the 1670s and 1680s of Daffy's 'Elixer Salutis', a best-selling medicine that continued to be manufactured and widely used into the early twentieth century in England, North America and Europe. 'Daffy's Elixir' as it was best known was one of the most famous - as well as one of the most long-lasting - proprietary medicines, that amorphous group of remedies distinguished from the rest of the pharmacopoeia by the secrecy with which their producers shrouded their ingredients. 

Secret remedies had long been a part of medicine in Europe, and had circulated internationally since the sixteenth century at least. However, in England the variety and scale of production of proprietary medicines seems to have dramatically expanded in the later seventeenth century, forming one of the most distinctive, controversial and striking developments in medicine and commerce of the period. This book reproduces a complete, annotated text of Anthony Daffy's Account Book, together with an extensive introduction exploring the life and times of its producers across two centuries of medical history.

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