|Bottle of Radithor.|
Ah, now this is some real history. I wrote an article a few years ago about the radioactive health craze of the 1920's and 30's, when people felt that radiation was good for you and the government shut down as fraudulent anyone advertising radioactive health products that didn't actually contain enough radioactive material to match the claims of their ads.
This is one product they did not, at first, have any problem with. Radithor was the premier brand of radioactive water, containing significant amounts of radium and thorium. How much? Consider for a moment that this bottle has been empty probably for decades, but the cork is still strongly radioactive from whatever residue may have soaked into it before someone drank the contents.
It all came to an end in 1932 when the government reversed course and decided that radiation is actually bad for you. The FDA was created in part to regulate (i.e. ban) these radioactive quack medical cures.
And Radithor had a lot to do with that. It was so potent that people started seriously dying from it, including the well-publicized case of Eben Byers, a millionaire who could afford to drink three bottle a day, until, as the New York Times reported at the time "his jaw came off".
I am thrilled to have an actual Radithor bottle, in my opinion the premier historical radioactive quack medical collectible. Now, if only I could get a full one.
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 20 August, 2006
Text Updated: 12 March, 2007
Sample Group: Medical