Secrets of 18th century cure-all ointment disclosed



The secrets of a famous 18th century cure-all ointment have been disclosed, after its recipe was put up for sale.

For about 200 years The Poor Man's Friend was sold around the world as a cure for aches and pains.

The ingredients of the ointment, formulated by Dorset apothecary Giles Roberts in the 1790s, remained a mystery.

The secrets were finally disclosed as an original copy of the recipe was listed for auction next week along with other papers and memorabilia belonging to Roberts.

Matthew Denny, a valuer at Dorset auctioneer Duke's, said the recipe had been found by a pharmacist who bought Roberts' old shop in the 1970s.

The recipe for Poor Man's Friend was discovered in a sealed envelope marked private.

It sets out ingredients for making a vat of the ointment, which was usually sold in small jars.

The largest element was 50lbs of Waterford lard, which was to be cut into pieces and steamed with 6lbs of English beeswax, before being strained through cheesecloth.

Other key ingredients include calamel, similar to soothing calamine lotion, sugar of lead, zinc oxide, and lavender.

Dr Frances Lawlor, a dermatologist at St Andrew's hospital in London, said the resulting ointment could have some beneficial effects for conditions such as eczema, mild infections and headaches.
Channel Hopper

Channel Hopper

Suffering fools, so you don't have to.
Staff member
My Satellite Setup
A little less analogue, and a lot more crap.
My Location
UK South
Not as effective as the old wire brush and paraffin though