JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
Welcome to this piece of historical advertisement! Of all of the many ads I've seen in Nature (spending a fair amount of time in the journal years from 1869-1945) this one (for December 12, 1925) is among the top-percenters causing real pause. Beginning a few years after its discovery in 1898 (by Marie and Pierre Curie), radium had taken on a life of its own in the public sphere, as being a possible cure for diseases, problematic sexual potential, dull fingernails, luminous watch faces, and such. It entered popular culture and stayed there for decades, right up to being shoveled into firey furnaces that power ant-gravity something-or-there engines in a floating city in a Flash Gordon movie1, and suffered itself into the public conscience as a redeemer and restorer of youth2.
[I've written before on radium-lust--here, for example: "Radioactive Suppository Sex Aids & Radium Toothpaste: Shining Lethal Nonsense" in 2010 .] I hadn't seen an ad however for purchasing the raw material before--let alone 20,000 "tubes" (of undetermined size) of it. It does make one wonder about storage, and handling.
Evidently the source of the radium was for gunsights of rifles, to illuminate the sight (or scope?) at night, or in the dark.
1. This is from one of the Flash Gordon serials, appearing in 1936. See here for a good summation and description.
2. This was a portable pack of a device called "Saratoga Springs" that utilized water and god-knows-what and radium salts into water that the purchaser would consume. This appeared in Popular Science Monthly for June 1929.