January 30, 1916 – Standard Oil promotes Petroleum Product “Nujol”
Standard Oil Company of New Jersey takes out a full-page advertisement in the New York Sun extolling the virtues of “Nujol,” one of the company’s many petroleum-based products.
A 1916 Standard Oil advertisement joins much earlier patent medicine promoters of petroleum’s medicinal value.
Nujol offers “Internal Lubrication As A Means To Health,” the ad proclaims. One historian will later note that “physicians disagree with the sales department of Standard Oil on this point.”
Standard promises to send a pint of Nujol anywhere in the United States for 75 cents in stamps or coin.
Since primitive people first found medicinal solutions in natural oil seeps, petroleum has been used with greater or lesser success to heal a variety of ailments. By the 19th century, patent medicines and their “miraculous” curative claims have become part of American culture. In the 1840s, one such cure-all was American Medicinal Oil. It came from naturally occurring petroleum seeps in Kentucky.
Nancy Kier of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will treat her consumption (tuberculosis) with oil. Her enterprising husband Samuel then begins packaging eight-ounce bottles and selling them for 50 cents through traveling salesmen and pharmacies.
He proclaims: ”KIER’S GENUINE PETROLEUM! OR ROCK OIL! A NATURAL REMEDY, Procured from a Well 400 feet deep, and possessing wonderful Curative Powers in diseases…”
A label from Samuel Kier’s patent medicine shows cable-tool rigs used for drilling brine wells — and soon for oil wells to launch the U.S. petroleum industry.
Kier’s patent medicine advertisement featuring brine-well wooden derricks is remembered for inspiring industrialist George Bissell to wonder if the same apparatus could be adapted to extract quantities of rock oil — from which highly prized kerosene could be distilled.
Bissell’s insight will ultimately lead to formation of the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company — and birth of the American petroleum industry on August 27, 1859.
New products like “petroleum jelly” patented in 1872 as “Vaseline” — will prove superior in preventing infections for common abrasions. Its inventor, Robert Chesebrough, consumed a spoonful of Vaseline every day and lived to be 96 years old. Read “A Crude Story: Mabel’s Eyelashes.” Read the rest of this entry »