Guest post: England’s ‘only female doctor’?

Esther Jane Neumane

Last year, The Quack Doctor featured some bottles from the collection of Michael Till, including this gorgeous and rare example of Cavania’s Wonder-Worker Lotion. A father and daughter team, Professor and Mademoiselle Cavania practised in the north of England during the 1860s and 70s. The prospect of formal medical qualifications …

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The devil in disguise

Hall's Coca Wine - 1897 ad from Country Life

John Michael Smith is one of those fleeting figures who cross history’s pages when they get into trouble and then disappear, leaving only a hint of a life where destitution is more prominent than criminality. At the age of 11 he lived in Lodge Lane, Derby, with his mother and …

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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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Sago Jenkinson and the Case of the Witched Child

When Nancy Harborough took her sick child to a local celebrity doctor in 1844, she probably didn’t expect to receive advice worthy of Matthew Hopkins two centuries earlier. As it was, the whole sad episode ended up in court, and as the Hull Packet put it: The facts of the …

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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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The Invisible Elevators for Short People

From The Standard (London) 10 April 1897 . Perhaps this is not strictly medical, but I noticed this ad while researching something else, and was intrigued enough to find out more. The invisible elevators, I discovered, were cork wedges about 1 inch thick, designed to be worn inside your shoes. …

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