Cocaine was first used as a local anesthetic on this date in 1884 ...

Illustrated cover for a patent medicine pamphlet

Cocaine was first used publicly as a local anesthetic on this date, September 16, in 1884 by the Austrian ophthalmologist Karl Koller (1857-1944). The surgical demonstration, conducted in front of peers in the medical community, ushered in a new era of surgical possibilities and his discovery was also adopted by professionals in the fields of nose and throat surgery, as well as dentists. The drug was also adopted by a variety of prescription drugs, patent medicine, and sodas, and remained popular for these purposes until interventions like the Harrison Anti-Narcotic Act of 1914 began to restrict its availability and use.

The patent medicine pamphlet we're sharing today was also published in 1884, though the product it advertised was cocaine free. Dr. Pounder's Aspargo, manufactured by Philadelphia's Dr. Pounder Family Medicine Company, instead promised to heal the "unnumbered multitudes struggl[ing] hopelessly with adverse physical conditions" such as being "impoverished in vital strength and sexual vigor" or "bodily decadence and vital decline" with the awesome healing power of asparagus.

This item is item ID 08057659 in Hagley Library's collection of trade catalogs. You can view the full pamphlet online in our Digital Archive by clicking here.