World's Dispensary Medical Association
Doctor Ray Vaughn Pierce
The most famous of the patent-medicine wizards was Dr. Ray Vaughn Pierce, who
operated the World's Dispensary. In the thirteen years between 1867 and 1880 his
ventures took in almost half a million dollars per year. With the possible exception of
William G. Fargo (of Wells Fargo fame) he was probably the city's most renowned
Biography: Dr. Pierce was born at Starke, New York, August 6th, 1840, and received
his education in public schools. Afterwards he took up the study of medicine and in
1862 was graduated from The Eclectic Medical College, of Cincinnati. Subsequently
he practiced medicine in Titusville, Pennsylvania, for four years, and in 1867 became
a resident of Buffalo.

Sales: Soon after coming to this city Doctor Pierce started the manufacture of a
prescription which he called "Doctor Pierce's Favorite Prescription." He followed the
marketing of this with several other medicines, including Smart Weed and Dr.
Pierce's Pleasant Pellets. Nearly one million bottles of Dr. Pierce's Smart Weed and
other preparations left Buffalo annually.
Dr. Pierce was a champion of free enterprise. As president of a proprietary
association of mail-order medicine sellers, Pierce made sure that government would
keep its hands off the regulatory tools. On behalf of his colleagues, Pierce
vehemently responded to the doctors who questioned the effectiveness of the
nostrums, cure-alls and tonics advertised in newspapers and sold through the mail.
Pierce's medicines were notorious elixirs, many containing opium until the
mid-1890s. Pierce promoted his concoctions through his book, "The people's
Common Sense Medical Advisor." A quasi-predecessor to the Physicians' Desk
Reference, Pierce's book was in its 11th edition and had sold more than 2 million
copies by 1907..
Pierce's son, Doctor V. Mott Pierce was general manager of the laboratory -- the
World's Dispensary -- at 664 Washington Street, a six-story manufacturing facility.

Pierce's Palace Hotel was intended for invalids, and tourists, as well. It was located
on what is now (2003) the D'Youville College campus facing Prospect Park.

This building, erected in 1870, was destroyed by fire in 1881, and immediately
replaced by one of the best known sanitariums of its kind in the country: Invalids'
Hotel and Surgical Institute.

The Invalids' Hotel and Surgical Institute was run out of a grand brick building at 663
Main Street. Patients came from all over the United States and Canada during its
heyday, including, supposedly, the Sundance Kid.

Dr. Pierce also had a facility in London.
Politics: In 1878 he was elected State Senator. In 1879 he was elected to congress on
the Republic ticket, serving one term in the House of Representatives. He resigned
his Congressional seat in 1880 because of ill health.
Pierce lost a fortune in a grandiose plan to tunnel for gold and coal in California.
New York, Buffalo
Erie Canal Town  
World's Dispensary Medical
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