Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Mars Gazette: Liquid Peptonoids as Ephemera

A few months ago I stumbled across several references to The Mars Gazette: News from Another World, an eighteen-page advertising booklet published in the early 1900s by the Arlington Chemical Company of Yonkers, New York. The company
was a manufacturer of patent medicines.

Here’s how Science-Fiction, the Early Years: a Full Description of More Than 3,000 Science-fiction Stories from Earliest Times to the Appearance of the Genre Magazines in 1930 (1990) describes The Mars Gazette:
An advertising shape book purporting to be a copy of a Martian newspaper. Printed in black, green, and brown, it simulates a charred booklet, edges suitable browned and chipped away (as later explained) by an electrical storm the document passed through on entering the earth’s atmosphere. The Martian newspaper, translated into English, tells of the landing on an oblong spaceship (a medicine package?) from which emerges
C. B. Hustler, M. D., the sales representative of the Arlington Chemical Co. Hustler explains the wonders of the patent medicine Liquid Peptonoids to the Martians (who eat all sorts
of indigestible substances and accordingly suffer greatly from indigestion.) He lectures to the king and assembled physicians, cures several moribund patients, and is appointed royal physician to His Most Malignant Majesty, King Flammarion.
At a thanksgiving banquet Liquid Peptonoids are served as a dessert to the main course ... Before leaving ... Hustler projects a gigantic advertisement for Liquid Peptonoids into
the sky. The booklet is illustrated with many amusing drawings of Martian life, personalities, airships, scientific devices, canals. ... The Martians are humanoid, but smaller than earthmen. ... The reference to Flammarion probably points to Camille Flammarion’s two-volume work La planete de Mars rather than to his science-fiction. Internal evidence -- a fairly sophisticated Martian X-ray machine, a Lowellian canal, a reference to a great Marsquake of 17897 (San Francisco, 1907?) suggest that the booklet was issued during the first decade of this century. A very amusing piece of ephemera that deserves to be reproduced.
Apparently, The Mars Gazette was reproduced, for a bookseller notes that a publication titled Fantasy Collector’s Annual – 1975 contains
“a facsimile of the nearly unique The Mars Gazette.“

More interesting was the plight of a University of Texas cataloger who was bewildered by a copy of The Mars Gazette, as detailed in this humorous listserv posting from 1993:
A copy of a ... pamphlet with the caption title ... The Mars gazette has just come up for cataloguing. It purports to be issued by the Arlington Chemical Co., and clues in the text, as well as the activities of the company, the style of illustrations, etc., suggest a date of publication in the first decade of this century. It is a shaped book -- it is supposed to have been badly scorched on reentry through the Earth's atmosphere -- which consistently plugs the aforesaid company's liquid peptonoids, and was acquired here, in the 1980s, because of its science fiction connexions.

Aside from the text, it looks and feels to me as though it was manufactured in the last decade or two. The staples that hold
it together look quite recent, and the heavy paper on which it is printed (color lithography) is very flexible and does not seem almost a century old.

I find only two references to it in science fiction and fantasy reference works, both published in the last twenty years. I was beginning to think that it is a modern facsimile of a scarce original, but am now in doubt as to whether or not the "original" ever existed. Does anyone else have this or know anything about it?
Pictured above: Just an advertisement for a patent medicine.


Anonymous said...

IMPORTANT NOTICE to all the MDs of Mars. I have an original copy. The liquid peptonoids are endorsed by the medical profession and medical press of Earth.

Paul said...

Cool! Can you send me a high resolution scan?

Anonymous said...

O.K. But remember it is a bit charred from re-entry.

Anonymous said...

That is not a fake or a late spoof. Worldcat lists it as appearing in the 1890s, PLUS it is included in the LOWELL OBSERVATORY's collection.
Lowell and his team in fact patiently collected articles from the world over related to Mars, the canals etc.