1905 1920

Weird Radioactive Products

The discovery of radiation and radioactive particles in the late 19th and early 20th century brought about a new line of consumer products advertised to utilize radium and other similar substances. Such products were claimed to have a wide variety of benefits, such as to improve general health, cure a disease, or improve beauty. A wide variety of products were created and marketed, including foods, clothing, jewelry, toiletries, and beauty products. At the time, people had little knowledge of the dangers of radiation. Rather, many people saw it as a new science that could only improve humanity without any possible negative consequences. Here are just a few of the more ridiculous consumer products that were available back in the day.

Doramad Radioactive Toothpaste

Produced during World War II in Germany by the company Auer Gesselshaft . Containing thorium, it was claimed to kill harmful bacteria while strengthening the teeth and gums. In 1944 Auer Gesselshaft confiscated large quantities of thorium from a chemical plant in France. Allied Intelligence believed the thorium was being used to enrich uranium for an atomic weapons program. Turns out it was just being used for toothpaste.

Batschari Cigarettes

Cigarettes containing radium produced by the A. Batschari tobacco company in Baden, Germany between 1910 and 1915.

Nutex Radium Condoms, circa 1940′s

Vita Radium Suppositories

Produced in the 1930′s, they were advertised to increase energy, vitality,  make a person more youthful, and treat impotence.

German Radium Chocolate, 1930′s

Radium Butter

Radium Beer, Terre Haute Brewing Co., produced between 1905 and 1920.


Little Tom pistol

Designed by Alois Tomiška c.1905-1920 and manufactured by the Wiener Waffenfabrik c.1920-25.
.32ACP eight-round brass magazine, single action/double action blowback semi-automatic.

An interesting feature of this gun, beside being one of the earliest double action design ever produced, was his top-loaded magazine. Apparently it was designed for new magazines to push empty ones from the bottom of the grip.

Ellis Island Immigrants: Greek Soldier
ca. 1911
Photographer: Augustus F. Sherman (American; 1865–1925)

Identified as “Greek evzone or Palace Guard” in Peter Mesenhöller, Augustus F. Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits, 1905–1920 (New York: Aperture, 2005)