Clark Stanley

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Clark Stanley (b. c. 1854 in Abilene, Texas), the self-styled "Rattlesnake King," marketed snake oil as a patent medicine.

An advertisement for Clark Stanley's Snake Oil Liniment.

In 1879, after 11 years as a cowboy, Stanley studied for more than two years with a Hopi medicine man at Walpi, Arizona[citation needed]. This included learning the secrets of snake oil. With the help of a Boston druggist he began marketing his product at Western medicine shows. In 1893 he and his rattlesnakes became a hit attraction at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. His act included the killing of rattlesnakes and squeezing their bodies, what came out he labeled snake oil. Later he went on to establish production facilities in Beverly, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island.

In 1915, subsequent to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906, Stanley's concoction was examined and found to be of no value (it was mostly mineral oil). He was fined $20.00 and established the term snake oil as any worthless concoction sold as medicine.