Stay Vigorous at Seventy

ADvent Calendar Day 23 Ah, good old John Harvey Kellogg – everyone knows the cornflake-inventing, masturbation-disapproving, enema-giving sanitarium owner of Battle Creek, Michigan. It’s not much of a surprise that he would be promoting something called Sanitone Wafers… But, hang on a minute, this ad says F. J. Kellogg. Who’s he when …

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Failure of ‘606’

ADvent Calendar Day 20 This 1915 advertisement is perhaps not as wacky as some of the products I’ve featured this month, but I find it interesting because it names neither the medicine nor the disease it aims to cure! The mentions of ‘blood poison’, ‘Mercury and Potash treatment’ and ‘606’, …

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The Diagraphoscope – a wonder-working machine

Twentieth-century businessman X. W. Witman saw a lot of potential in X-rays. Doctors might get excited about their emerging medical application, but for him X-rays offered something even better – the chance to get rich quick. If you could X-ray Witman’s head, the plate would display a fine collection of …

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Valentine’s Meat-Juice

  The Quack Doctor is not a hearts and flowers kind of person, so was interested to learn of a dark side to this product’s history. Brought into production in Richmond, VA, in 1871, Valentine’s Meat-Juice became popular with orthodox physicians and was advertised in professional publications, including the British …

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The Voice of the People

Why would you visit The Quack Doctor to read about the famous Beecham’s Pills, when five seconds of Googling will give you more information than you could possibly read in a lifetime? Well, obviously you wouldn’t, so that’s why I’ve never blogged about them. I just wanted to do a …

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Bourbon Poultry Cure

If your Easter chicks aren’t looking too chirpy, why not perk them up with a dose of this 20th-century Kentucky remedy? As a 1911 advert put it: Sick fowls don’t pay, Droopy hens won’t lay and the Poultry Cure was a bargain at only 50 cents for a quantity that …

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Antonius W. Van Bysterveld, Expert Inspector of Urine

Advertisement from The Pomeroy Herald, Iowa, 27 January 1910 Centuries after the figure of the ‘pisse-prophet’ had descended into the realms of quackery and ridicule, a modern kind of urine analyst popped up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In the early 20th century, scientific urine tests were part of mainstream medical …

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A miraculous change right away quick

Last October I blogged about the Magic Foot Drafts, a remedy for rheumatism that required the patient to stick pine-tar-coated oilcloth plasters to the soles of their feet. This was supposed to draw out uric acid through the pores, but as Samuel Hopkins Adams said in The Great American Fraud, …

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Dr Walter’s Medicated Rubber Garments

My Scottish grandma could be rather forthright at times and was wont to sum up the appearance of passers-by with the succinct phrase ‘She’s no stranger to a fish supper.’ Had grandma been around in the early 20th century, however, perhaps she wouldn’t have had as much opportunity to make …

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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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