Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Peddling liquid peptonoids through The Mars Gazette

About two years ago, I stumbled across several references to The Mars Gazette: News from Another World, an eighteen-page advertising booklet published in the early 1900s by the Arlington Chemical Company, a manufacturer of patent medicines located in Yonkers, New York.

An advertising shape book purporting to be a copy of a Martian newspaper. Printed in black, green, and brown, it simulates a charred booklet, edges suitable browned and chipped away (as later explained) by an electrical storm the document passed through on entering the earth’s atmosphere. The Martian newspaper, translated into English, tells of the landing on an oblong spaceship (a medicine package?) from which emerges C. B. Hustler, M. D., the sales representative of the Arlington Chemical Co. Hustler explains the wonders of the patent medicine Liquid Peptonoids to the Martians (who eat all sorts of indigestible substances and accordingly suffer greatly from indigestion.) He lectures to the king and assembled physicians, cures several moribund patients, and is appointed royal physician to His Most Malignant Majesty, King Flammarion.

At a thanksgiving banquet Liquid Peptonoids are served as a dessert to the main course ... Before leaving ... Hustler projects a gigantic advertisement for Liquid Peptonoids into the sky. The booklet is illustrated with many amusing drawings of Martian life, personalities, airships, scientific devices, canals. ... The Martians are humanoid, but smaller than earthmen. ... The reference to Flammarion probably points to Camille Flammarion’s two-volume work La planete de Mars rather than to his science-fiction. Internal evidence -- a fairly sophisticated Martian X-ray machine, a Lowellian canal, a reference to a great Marsquake of 17897 (San Francisco, 1907?) suggest that the booklet was issued during the first decade of this century. A very amusing piece of ephemera that deserves to be reproduced.

Now, just last week, a SF&F fan who was cleaning out his attic came across an original copy of The Mars Gazette and was kind enough to send me a couple of scans (click for detail!), which I’ve embedded above. Thank you, Tom!

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