Seltzer aperient

Another 19th-century trade card that came by me today:

Details on the back:

As far as I can tell, the stuff was a white powder (ingredients not clear to me) that produced, in water, the fresh equivalent of the famous German Seltzer water.

Aperient (from the Latin participle meaning ‘opening’) is an infrequent technical term, as an adjective (OED2 cite in 1626) meaning ‘opening the bowels, laxative’ and as a nouning by truncation (with the adjective construed as modifying medicine or article of diet), with OED2 cites from 1682, 1765, and 1872. It seems to survive as a medical term (“Prunes are an aperient fruit”) for a mild purgative or laxative.

Meanwhile, seltzer water (carbonated water, water infused with carbon dioxide) is no longer marketed for its medicinal purposes, but instead is primarily used to dilute alcoholic drinks and drunk neat as “fizzy water”.

So: an unusually mild and unalarming Victorian remedy (no alcohol, turpentine, opium, cocaine, codeine, or other astonishing ingredients).

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