Shop sign advertising a treatment for syphilis

Made:
1900-1930 in China and Japan
Shop sign advertising a treatment for syphilis (advertisement)

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Shop sign, early 20th century, possibly from a pharmacy, with Japanese characters (Katakana, Kanji and Hiragana) in green red and black, advertising Dokumetsu, a treatment for syphilis developed by Hiroshi Morishita (1864-1943), showing an image of Otto von Bismarck on one side and a younger man on the reverse

Translated from Japanese, Dokumetsu is “poison extinguisher.” Hiroshi Morishita (1864-1943), founder of the Jintan Pharmaceutical Company developed this treatment in 1900 for syphilis.

Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) was the first chancellor of unified Germany from 1871 to 1890, seemingly an unusual choice for a pharmacy advert. Dokumetsu’s slogan is “Bismarck is the minister most renowned for his ingenuity; Dokumetsu is the only medicine known to defeat syphilis.” Historian Susan L. Burns who has researched these adverts says “put simply Dokumetsu is to syphilis treatments what Bismarck is to political reform.”

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Details

Category:
Pharmacy-ware
Collection:
Sir Henry Wellcome's Museum Collection
Object Number:
A631419
Materials:
complete, wood and iron
Measurements:
overall: 509 mm x 604 mm x 31 mm, 3.9 kg
type:
advertisement