Holloway’s ointment stoneware pot

Item details

Object number M-449
Manufacturer Holloway’s
Place United Kingdom
Date 1900s
Category Curiosities and miscellaneous
Material Stoneware


Holloway’s Ointment was a popular ‘cure all’ made and sold by ‘Professor’ Thomas Holloway (1800 – 1883). The ointment was first made in London in about 1840 and by the 1850’s it was being made and sold in the United States. Thomas Holloway was probably the best known of all ‘snake-oil’ salesmen in England – his ointment and various other dubious preparations sold in vast quantities. His success was largely due to enormous expenditure on sophisticated advertising schemes – by 1842 his annual spending on advertising was a staggering 5,000 British pounds.

The Holloway’s pot declares that the ointment is for the care of inveterate ulcers, gout, rheumatism, sore breasts and sore legs; other generations of the pot variously included chilblains, chapped hands, boils and insect bites. Holloway’s trademark was a seated woman, Hygeia (the goddess of health), a snake (a symbol of healing) and an infant Telephorus (the demi-god of convalescence).

The British Medical Association took a major role in leading legislation on matters of public health including the selling of quack remedies and its campaign in 1909 exposed the ingredients of many of these remedies – it published an article ‘Secret remedies – what they cost and what they contain’. The result was that many proprietors moderated their claims about the efficacy of their products.