The Worm-Doctor of Shoreditch

John Gardner, Image Courtesy of Wellcome Library, London

It’s a while since we last heard from our old friend Ascaris lumbricoides, so it’s time he made another appearance on The Quack Doctor together with a few of his helminthic chums. I’m putting together a talk about the career of John Gardner, a former soldier and picture-framer who became …

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Smith’s Live-Long Candy

Sometimes, patent remedies killed people. The Live-Long Candy did manage to get mentioned at an inquest, and there’d be a particular irony in a product of this name carrying someone off – but I reckon it’s innocent. Eight months before this ad appeared, 16-year-old Belinda Balls, housemaid to Mrs Waspe …

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The Worm Has Returned

Regular readers of The Quack Doctor might remember that back at the end of September last year, I blogged about a news story surrounding the National Archives’ Surgeons at Sea project. The Archives’ press release focused on a 12-year-old Irish girl, Ellen McCarthy, who apparently had the misfortune to vomit up …

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Paul Gage’s Tonic Antiphlegmatic Elixir

Source: The Liverpool Mercury, 30 December 1851 . Phlegm is generally white, greyish, or of a yellow colour, with streaks of black; its consistency varies from the limpidity of water to the thickness of jelly. This vivid description is from Parisian chemist Paul Gage’s Treatise on the Effect and Disorders …

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Girl vomited 87-inch worm – or did she?

The dearth of posts on The Quack Doctor over the last couple of weeks is owing to the fact that I was away in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory – not on holiday exactly, as I got paid to go and write about it, but nevertheless much more fun …

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Dr A Wilford Hall’s Hygienic Treatment

From the Pittsburgh Dispatch, 2 Jan 1890 Alexander Wilford Hall wasn’t trying to flog a potion or contraption. His secret to health and longevity was something that people could do for themselves, for their whole lives, at very low cost. That is, if they really had the stomach for it. …

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Something to show and scare the people

TAPE WORM Removed ALIVE IN TWO HOURS with HEAD or no charge. (No Fee in Advance.) No fasting. Have cured over 2,000 people of Tape worms with this harmless infallible specific, 50 per cent of which were doctoring for various other diseases, thereby eking out a miserable existence as thousands …

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Mayr’s Wonderful Stomach Remedy

Some secret remedies remain secret for centuries. Not Mayr’s Wonderful Stomach Remedy. Within about a year of it becoming famous, a Chicago newspaper was describing its promoter as a ‘comical quack’ and ‘one of the most entertaining medical fakers in Chicago.’ The Stomach Remedy was inspired by the methods of …

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The Aqua Antitorminalis for Griping in the Guts

Having formerly Published an Advertisement of an Excellent Remedy, Called Aqua Antitorminalis, which has been Experienced to be an Infallible Cure for that Reigning Distemper, called The Griping of the Guts, which several Persons have made use of, with great Success at this Season, wherein it Appears by the London …

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The tragic story of Ching’s Worm Lozenges

    ..   What is any self-respecting quack to do in the face of criticism?   The answer in 1804 was exactly the same as it is now – turn nasty and threaten to sue the arse off everyone.   The name ‘Ching’s Worm Lozenges’ might suggest that this will be an icky-parasite …

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