[Buffalo, NY]: [World's Medical Dispensary Association], [c. 1890]. First edition. Original printed wrappers featuring a woman on a bike on front and a woman ice skating on rear. Stapled as issued. 32 pages, measuring 3.5 x 6 inches. Gently toned throughout, with some light soiling to wraps. In all a clean and pleasing copy of this short advertising pamphlet, designed to promote Dr. Pierce's line of health products while also touting new social and political moves towards women's liberation. With only two libraries holding copies according to OCLC and no others on the market, this pamphlet has become a rare example of how companies sought to curry favor with a newly emerging, opinionated, and powerful market: women.
Ostensibly an advertising promotion for Dr. Pierce's Pleasant Pellets, among other Dr. Pierce products, The New Woman contains a surprising amount of information about how advertisers and businesses viewed the rising generation of women. The front wrap features a woman on a bicycle -- a recognizable symbol of women's independence and increased mobility -- and it prepares readers for several key questions that appear within the first pages. "Stories of Borrowed Sex," printed on the verso of the front wrap, documents "several women who served with the greatest distinction" after cross-dressing to become soldiers. This leads into the title and its follow up question: "The New Woman. Ideals Regarding Women Have Changed: Which Makes the Best Wife, the Bicycle Girl or the 'Delicate Clinging Vine'?" Here, the pamphlet pushes back against Victorian expectations of submissive femininity, touting instead the benefits of a woman "distinctly able to take care of herself." "The New Woman marries if she pleases--and if the right man presents himself. She is able to take care of herself. She doesn't have to lean on anybody. She doesn't have to depend on anybody for her living -- she can make that by herself." The praise heaped upon this emerging generation emphasizes their spending power, as well as their need to maintain active lifestyles and good health that help them avoid the "Female Complaints" so common among their Victorian matriarchs. Dr. Pierce's products are promoted as a means for doing this, and the booklet provides several pages of women's testimonials, with facsimile signatures, explaining how the products have assisted with nutrition, recovery from childbirth, and the easing of menstral discomforts. A fascinating shift in advertising, in which praise of financially independent women and testimonials from women themselves were valued as a method for tapping into a previously undervalued market. Near Fine (Item #2721)