History Carnival 132

The March of Intellect

It might be 1 April but there are no fools in the history blogosphere if the last month is anything to go by. I’m pleased to present History Carnival 132, showcasing some of the fascinating blog posts published in March. Thank you to all who submitted articles for inclusion. The …

Continue reading

Wonder-workers and styptics

When your Magic Chicken is suffering from cholera, there’s no need to panic. This bottle for the Magic Chicken Cholera Cure is one of around 195 medicine bottles in the collection of Michael Till, a retired GP from Gloucestershire. Michael became interested in historical remedies after looking into the story …

Continue reading

Poison. To be applied night and morning.

I have some wonderful pictures to share with you today thanks to collector Rex Barber from Perth, Western Australia, who owns several hundred 18th – 20th century proprietary remedy lids. Rex has exhibited his collection as far afield as the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors’ 2012 show in Reno, NV. …

Continue reading

‘Come for the skin book, stay for the history!’ An interview with Dr Lindsey Fitzharris

The image of the 18th-century anatomist is a shady one, redolent of midnight forays into graveyards and dissection in front of a rabble of students. The cadavers in these scenes are anonymous and devoid of character; mere objects fuelling a relentless craving for knowledge. But everybody who ended up on …

Continue reading

No glister-pipe, bum-peeping apothecary

The following speech appeared in a comic 18th-century booklet called The Harangues or Speeches of Several Famous Mountebanks in Town or Country, which makes fun of high-profile medical salesmen by attributing to them wild claims about their remedies. Later editions (under the title The Harangues, or Speeches, of Several Celebrated …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

Dr Rock’s Political Speech to the Mob in Covent-Garden

This is a short excerpt from a speech attributed to Dr Richard Rock in a satirical mid-18th-century pamphlet called The harangues, or speeches, of several celebrated quack-doctors, in town and country. Rock, whose Viper Drops have previously appeared on this site, is sometimes referred to as an itinerant quack, but …

Continue reading

The Balm of Zura, or Phoenix of Life

Source: Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post, 3 April 1823 Much of the evidence on this one is anecdotal, but the proprietor of the Balm of Zura, Dr A. Lamert, certainly sounds quite a character. Lamert was the son of a London-based German quack who dabbled in ophthalmology before moving on to …

Continue reading

Angelick Snuff

This noble composition was on sale for most of the first half of the 18th century but enjoyed a moment of fame 200 years later when an American news editor stumbled on the advert and found it entertaining enough to fill a space in his paper. Other papers lifted the …

Continue reading

The Poor Man’s Friend

Source: Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post, 20 July 1826 In 2003, the Daily Mail ran a story titled: Beeswax is ‘miracle’ cure. The article referred to an 18th/19th-century ointment called The Poor Man’s Friend, a popular remedy for wounds and skin conditions. The reason it hit the 21st-century press was that its …

Continue reading