After beginning his working life as a printer's apprentice, Louis Crucius (or Crusius) completed the necessary requirements to graduate as a pharmacist in 1882 and a doctor in 1890 in St Louis, Missouri. While he was studying he worked in a pharmacy and made humorous sketches that were placed in the window of the store. A collection of these drawings was published in 1893 ('Funny Bones'). He lectured in histology and anatomy and eventually came to be a Professor of Anatomy but died in 1898 from kidney tumours.
Although he gave most of his drawings away, Crucius sold a number of them to the Antikamnia ('opposed to pain') Chemical Company which had been established in St Louis in 1890. They produced antikamnia medicines containing the coal tar derivative, acetanilid, an anti-fever drug with pain relieving properties somewhat related to paracetamol, but which would be later shown to be a toxic compound not to mention addictive. Antikamnia was mixed with substances like codeine and quinine to enhance the pain relieving effects.
30 of the Crucius 'dance of death'-inspired drawings were used to make 5 years worth of Antikamnia Chemical Company calendars - between 1897 and 1901. They had a fairly aggressive marketing campaign in which the calendars (aimed at the medical fraternity) as well as postcards and sample packs were distributed to doctors in the United States and overseas.
- The Louise M Darling Biomedical Library at UCLA have a complete set of the 1900 Antikamnia Chemical Company calendar (which is the same as the 2007 one) in both english and french in large jpeg and pdf files. [link updated Dec. '08]
- The American Journal of Roentgenology AJR:182, 1984: 'Medicine in American Art: The Diagnosis' by Stefan Schatzki. This is a short article and source for the Jan/Feb 1897 image.
- Physician's Antikamnia Sample Pocket Kit c1900 image source.
- The revenue stamp image comes from here, which has a little more information about the company.
- Antikamnia tablets.
- Sept/Oct 1897 calendar image source.
- 'Funny bone: A book of mirth. For doctors, druggists, dentists, medical students, and others. Containing funny jokes, good stories, dialogues, conundrums, ludicrous things, ditties' by Louis Crucius [Woodward and Tiernan printers]. (unavailable)
- The Antikamnia Chemical Company were eventually prosecuted for failing to disclose the source of the active ingredient on their packaging: U. S. v. ANTIKAMNIA CHEMICAL CO., 231 U.S. 654 (1914).
- (Despite any evidence to the contrary, I am very busy and posting will likely be sparse for the next couple of weeks. Or I will ignore responsibilities and keep posting.)
- Update: Ok, I got a bit confused - UCLA have both full 1899 and 1900 calendars. They are usually sold off as single pages so a complete calendar is very rare.