Goat testicles and great stories! An interview with film director Penny Lane

In Depression-era Kansas, small-town doctor J R Brinkley made a fortune from his novel method of treating impotence. It was startling, sensationally popular… and a...

A devil of a cure

One must always be grateful for small mercies. When a giant jazz-hands Satan is trampling amok on your planet of residence, you can at least...

What the Apothecary Ordered

I’m delighted to announce that 10 August is the UK publication day for a pocket volume I compiled for Old House Books, an imprint of...

‘A new sensation’ – hair-brushing by machinery

Among the gems released into the public domain by the British Library last December is an advertisement for Batkin & Kent, Hairdressers and Perfumers of...

Strange case: ‘At all events the blade fell’

Injuries acquired in unusual circumstances, spurious news stories of medical happenings, bizarre or gruesome reports from doctors’ casebooks… Strange cases is an occasional feature on the Quack...
Welcome to our virtual collection of health advertising, fraudulent schemes and medical oddities of the past.

Brinkley's odd operation

An interview with filmmaker Penny Lane, creator of a new documentary about Dr John R Brinkley and his startling cure for impotence in early 20th-century America.

A devil of a cure

A company in early 20th-century Kansas named their constipation medicine after an unlikely figure. Satan.

New book

Out now: 'What the Apothecary Ordered', a pocket compendium of bizarre remedies.

Machine hair-brushing

The hair-brushing machine, invented in 1862, took the barber shops of Victorian Britain by storm.

'The blade fell'

In 1909, a morbid Parisian gentleman ended up regretting his fascination with the guillotine.

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