William H. Helfand: A Tribute

In commemoration of the recent passing of William H. Helfand (1926–2018), I thought that I would take this occasion to present to my readers a few of the vast collection of display cards, prints, and other ephemeral items he collected, some of which were generously donated to The Wolfsonian–FIU library.



Mr. Helfand received a degree in pharmacy from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science in 1952.


Over the course of his long life, he demonstrated a keen interest in pills, potions, and medical quackery; the manner in which pharmaceuticals were peddled to the public; and even how the imagery of inoculation and vaccination were deployed in nineteenth century editorial cartoons and other political parodies.




Not only did Mr. Helfand collect and preserve such materials; he became an internationally-recognized authority on the subject. For decades he served as a member of the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy, and as that body’s secretary and president for several years. He penned nearly seventy articles for Pharmacy in History, and published five well-illustrated books, including Pharmacy: An Illustrated History (1990), The Picture of Health (1991), and Quack, Quack, Quack: The Sellers of Nostrums in Prints, Posters, Ephemera, & Books (2002).


We, here at The Wolfsonian, mourn his passing, but celebrate his life’s passion and legacy.




~ by "The Chief" on November 28, 2018.

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