Google Books is full of surprises! In surveying medical journals in Google Books, I discovered that volumes of British Medical Journal circa 1880 scanned at Harvard have extensive sections devoted to advertisements. Most libraries, when they bind issues of journals and magazines into bound volumes, very reasonably remove pages that have only advertisements, to save space on the shelf. So it’s good to have a Harvard, that can afford to save the rare gems of 19th century ads, so that they can be put online for the world to enjoy!
As fanciful at the ad shown here is (“Ask for Cadbury’s Pure Cocoa, makers to the Queen”), there is a wealth of more prosaic ads in the same volume, awaiting future medical historians, on subjects such as malted infant food, lactopeptine for indigestion, bronchitis & croup kettles, and state-of-the-art wheelchairs.
I found several other journals in Google Books from the same late-19th-century era, that also have extensive ads. But British Medical Journal is the only one I found that has entire, separate volumes of advertising. Apparently there must have been separate supplements that were only ads (this was in the dawn of the age of mass advertising, and people, even including physicians, were actually GLAD to read ads!)
So, how searchable are the ads in Google Books? I tried a few examples and had mixed results — Searching for this phrase that’s in the Cadbury’s ad — “why does my doctor recommend Cadbury’s Cocoa” — was successful. But searching for a phrase in the ad that follows the Cadbury’s ad, for Anodyne Amyl Colloid — “in cases of neuralgia, sciatica, lumbago” — found the phrase in other ads for the same product, but not the one occurring in this instance.
Here are volumes of British Medical Journal that I found that are exclusively advertising (All of these were scanned at Harvard):