This entry in the November 29, 1883 issue of The Chatham Record implies that freckles were very unpopular in the late nineteenth century:
Freckles can be removed, according to Dr. J. V. Shoemaker, by the careful application of a little ointment of the oleate of copper at bed-time. He makes the ointment by dissolving the oleate of copper in sufficient oleopalmitic acid to make a mass.”
Searching for the scary-sounding terms “oleate of copper” and “oleopamitic acid”, we stumbled across the Record’s source for this piece [The Medical Brief 11.6 (June 1883)] :
“COPPER OLEATE IN FRECKLES – Dr. J.V. Shoemaker, of Philadelphia, Pa., (Medical Summary) states that the careful application of a small piece of oleate of copper ointment at night when retiring will usually remove freckles. The oleate of copper ointment should be prepared by dissolving one drachm of the oleate of copper salt in sufficient oleopalmitic acid to make a soft ointment.”
As we dug for the original publication we found this little tidbit [Medical Summary XIV (March 1892 – February 1893)]:
“Oleate of copper is fairly successful in removing freckles. Get it pure or it will produce furunkles [boils] on the face.”
We presume most folks elected to hang on to their freckles.