If you lived in the eighteenth century and you wanted to come back from being newly dead, all you needed was Dr. Sibly and his Re-Animating Solar Tincture.
Dr. Ebenezer Sibly did, in fact, have his medical degree which he received in 1792 from University and King’s College, Aberdeen MVD-MDCCCLX. His Re-Animating Solar Tincture claimed to bring the newly deceased back to life, provided it was immediately administered to the person who was newly dead and their body was receptive to the Re-Animating Solar Tincture.
Also, according to one of the ads in the September 4, 1819, Issue 3479 of the Leicester Journal and Midland Counties General Advertiser, Dr Sibly’s tincture was not only pleasant tasting but it could cure you even if other medicines could not.
The Leicestershire Historian Vol.2, No.1 quotes the following advertisement, “GUN-SHOTS STABS & WOUNDS Persons who have the Misfortune to meet with any of the above Accidents may obtain an expeditious and certain Cure by the immediate application of DR. SIBLY’S SOLAR TINCTURE” and makes fun of the bravado with which the eighteenth century weeklies portrayed the various patent medicines noting that, by modern day standards, such medicines would never make it past the present day consumer protections.
In reading The Quack Doctor, Historical Remedies for all Your Ills, it seems that this tincture came about at a time when it was sometimes difficult to determine death and society was afraid of the possibility of being buried alive. So, in this way, the tincture definitely applied to the eighteenth century society’s fear of not mistakenly burying someone alive. In terms of the social and cultural values of the time, it reveals how doctors were held in high regard and also shows a belief or assumption that the medicines advertised were a cure for the ailments described, unlike today where it is not uncommon for people to seek multiple medical opinions with regard to what ails them. This shows that, in today’s society, doctors may not be held in as high of a regard as they were in the past. In addition, unlike Dr. Sibly’s cure-all Re-Animating Solar Tincture, some medicines may work on certain people but not others. For example, some people are allergic to penicillin but are able to take erythromycin instead.
I find the advertisement for Dr. Sibly’s Re-Animating Solar Tincture to be both strange and funny. Initially, I had to look up the word “tincture” because I had no idea what it meant. According to the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, “tincture” is “a medicine that is made of a drug mixed with alcohol.” Upon further research, I found that even today the word “tincture” is used in the advertising of various medicines. Unfortunately, nothing in the advertisement or any articles I read indicated what Dr. Sibly’s Re-Animating Solar Tincture was made of.
While it would be nice to be able to come back from the dead or be “Re-Animated”, it’s clearly not possible. It’s funny to think that people of the eighteenth century bought into remedies such as this. But even today, I bet there are people out there who would believe in the claimed benefits of this medicine.