The virtues of coffee, seen in a 1690 ad




How were proprietors to achieve economic growth in the mid-1600s? Like the owner of the first English coffee-shop did in 1652, London merchant Samuel Price deployed the time-honored tactics of the mountebank, using advertising to make all sorts of claims for coffee’s many “virtues” in order to convince consumers to drink the stuff at home. In the 1690 broadside above, writes Rebecca Onion at Slate, Price made a “litany of claims for coffee’s health benefits,” some of which “we’d recognize today and others that seem far-fetched.” In the latter category are assertions that “coffee-drinking populations didn’t get common diseases” like kidney stones or “Scurvey, Gout, Dropsie.” Coffee could also, Price claimed, improve hearing and “swooning” and was “experimentally good to prevent Miscarriage.”

Via Open Culture