Whenever a new energy or force was discovered in the past, it wasn’t long before someone tried to see if it could be used as a medical treatment.

As most things can treat something though, it wouldn’t be long before “this might work in some cases on a few illnesses” is turned into CURES EVERYTHING!

Just as the discovery of radiation initially lead to the use of radioactive elements as treatments – and indeed still are in more controlled conditions, the discovery of controllable electricity spurred an entire industry in dubious cures for all manner of ailments.

As regular readers may recall, I have a growing collection of old newspapers, from which I have learnt that rheumatism and gout seemed to be the greatest medical concern of the age.

Today I acquired a collection of prints from various newspapers and this advert from October 1882 jumped out at me.

What I like most about these adverts is the improbable list of the things the device will cure: Nervous headaches; bilious headaches; neuralgia; dandruff – not to mention preventing grey hairs and baldness.

Dr Scott's Electric Hair Brush
Click on the image for a larger version.

Considering the quackery of the claims made about the brush, even more amusing to my mind is the dire warning that there are fakes around that wont work as promised, and that people simply must make sure they buy only from Dr Scott.

Note also how they push the address of the shop quite strongly – as it would have been just a few doors down from the first electricity generator for public use in London, which powered street lighting in the Holborn area. Hanging onto the coattails of its more legitimate neighbour!


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