THE VIRTUES AND EFFECTS OF THE REMEDY, NAMED MEDICAMENTUM GRATIA PROBATUM [Haarlem]. John Enschede, [ca. 1800].
1800. Single sheet broadside 200 x 135mm; with woodcut armorial device at head, text in double columns; paper browned, a little spotted, and quite creased, with a number of small holes just touching text but without significant loss; one or two small marginal nicks and tears, one at central fold, with two very small and discreet repairs along lower edge. A seemingly later example of this medical broadside promoting the myriad benefits of ‘medicamentum Gratia Probatum’ - a therapeutic remedy made and sold by Nicolas de Koning of Haarlem, and subsequently by his Widow and near kinsmen. Truly a miraculous medicine, the broadside claims that it can strengthen the stomach, cures scurvy, hysterical pains, anxiety, soothing open wounds and sores as well as burns, of reviving the weak and feeble, and even of dissolving kidney stones.
The sulphur based Haarlem oil was discovered by Claas Tilly in 1696 and soon gained a reputation as a cure for kidney and bladder complaints. According to the Haarlem Oil website he was assisted by Hermann Boerhave in the production of the remedy, who though sharing the profits of the medicine and recommending its use, was prevented from associating his name with a commercial proprietary product through the ethics of his profession. ‘The ingredients follow a process that take several days, in which the particular chemical preparation and difficult analysis has permitted the Tilly Family to preserve the secret of the production during 200 years’ (present day website).
Various issues are cited on OCLC and in a number of languages. Whilst the text remained unchanged for several years, variations are found in the final paragraph listing the kinsmen selling the product. Some printing errors also exist in the imprint. The current issue states: ‘This Medicamentum is Made and Sold in the City of Haarlem, in the Province of Holland; at the house of Nicolaas de Konig Tilly, who is the Author of the same, since the year 1764, and so was his Grandfather Claas Tilly before him, that was the Chief Inventor of it, since the year 1696. After the Decease of Nicolaas de Konig Tilly this Medicament shall be made and sold by his near kinsmen; viz. Jan de Konig, Leendert de Konig, Abraham Tilly and Adolf de Konig’.
A modern version exists to this day in the form of Haarlem Oil - which is sold for the use of both humans and animals. Other issues located at the Library Company of Philadelphia (more than one issue), Harvard, Princeton, possibly at the Wellcome and the National Library of Scotland.