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Medicine, Disease and Society in Britain, 1750 - 1950. The Golden Age of Quackery?:Unorthodox practice. Lecture 3. Lecture Outline. 1. Definitions of a ‘quack’ and ‘quackery’ and problems 2. The market and types of ‘quack’ - General vs specialist - Famous and successful ‘quacks’

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The golden age of quackery unorthodox practice

Medicine, Disease and Society in Britain, 1750 - 1950

TheGolden Age of Quackery?:Unorthodox practice

Lecture 3

Lecture outline
Lecture Outline

  • 1. Definitions of a ‘quack’ and ‘quackery’ and problems

  • 2. The market and types of ‘quack’

  • - General vs specialist

    • - Famous and successful ‘quacks’

  • - ‘Quacks’ and sexual diseases

  • - Female/local healers

  • 3. C19th ‘quackery’

    • - Continuation e.g. Morison’s Pills

    • - New Systems of medicine:

      • - Mesmerism

    • - Medical Botany

      • - Homeopathy

      • - Hydropathy

  • 4. Was the c18th the ‘golden age of quackery’?

  • Issues and questions
    Issues and Questions

    • The range and type of services we place within this broad category

    • The social, cultural and economic factors affecting provision and demand

    • The responses of ‘regulars’ and patients

    • How we might define a border between orthodox and unorthodox healers

    • How true is it to think of the C18 as the ‘Golden Age of Quackery’?

    Samuel johnson s dictionary 1755
    Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary 1755

    A boastful pretender to arts which he does not understand.

    A vain boastful pretender to physic, one who proclaims his own Medical abilities in public places.

    An artful tricking practitioner in Physic

    Doctor Humbug, an itinerant medicine vendor, selling his wares from a stage with the aid of an assistant. Coloured etching, 1799.

    John taylor oculist 1703 1772
    John Taylor, oculist, 1703-1772 wares from a stage with the aid of an assistant. Coloured etching, 1799.

    He seems to understand the anatomy of the eye perfectly well; he has a fine hand and good instruments, and performs all his operations with great dexterity.’

    Dr William King, Tunbridge Wells.

    An example of ‘how far impudence may carry ignorance.’

    Samuel Johnson

    James graham 1745 94
    James Graham (1745-94) wares from a stage with the aid of an assistant. Coloured etching, 1799.

    The Celestial bed at the Temple of Health, London c.1775

    Graham lecturing at Edinburgh

    Nineteenth century alternative medical systems
    Nineteenth century alternative medical systems Universal Pills.

    • Mesmerism

    • Medical Botany

    • Homeopathy

    • Hydropathy

    Mesmerism Universal Pills.

    A patient being ‘mesmerised’ late c18th/early c19th

    Led to hypnosis in the c19th

    Medical botany or herbalism
    Medical Botany or herbalism Universal Pills.

    • Health movement on vegetable-based therapies

    • All ills were produced by cold and any treatment generating heat would aid recovery

    • Seventy plant remedies in the Thomsonian material medica.

    Jesse boot 1950 1931
    Jesse Boot (1950-1931) Universal Pills.

    1863: Joins family business in Nottingham selling herbal remedies.

    1884: Opens shop In Sheffield

    1892: Opens larger manufacturing site

    1909: Jesse Boot knighted

    1913: 560 shops in Great Britain

    1920: Boots Company is sold to an American for £2.25m.

    Nottingham flagship store, opened in 1904

    Homeopathy Universal Pills.

    Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1833

    Laws of homeopathy

    Let like be cured by like (exemplified in the folk wisdom that hot compresses were good for burns, or that cowpox vaccination immunized against smallpox).

    Use of infinitesimals (serial dilution) - the smaller the dose, the more efficacious the medicine.

    C18th spa towns
    C18th Spa towns Universal Pills.


    Vincent preissnitz graffenberg hydropathy model
    Vincent Preissnitz’ Graffenberg Hydropathy Model Universal Pills.

    • Environment

      • Pure cold water

      • Fresh air

      • ‘One must have mountains’ diet and exercise

    • Regimen

      • No mental exertion

      • No ‘physic’ (drugs, bloodletting)

      • Diet

      • Exercise

    • The Hydropathic Institution

    • Richard Claridge’s Hydropathic Regime Universal Pills.

    • 4 am, sweating

    • 3 mins cold bath

    • Walk to springs

    • Breakfast

    • 10 am, douche

    • Walk to springs

    • Sitz and foot bath

    • 1 pm, dinner

    • 4pm, douche

    • 7pm, sitz and foot bath

    • Feet & legs bandaged

    • 9.30 to bed

    Hydropathic centres malvern and matlock
    Hydropathic centres: Malvern and Matlock Universal Pills.

    • Targeting segmented markets ‘from posh to poor’

    • Women

    • Variety of provision

    Hydropathy as quack practice
    Hydropathy as ‘quack’ practice Universal Pills.

    • Charles Hastings v. James Wilson at Malvern

    • Provincial Medical and Surgical Journal

      1842 - articles and responses

    Richard metcalfe the rise and progress of hydropathy 1912 p iv
    Richard Metcalfe, Universal Pills. The Rise and progress of Hydropathy (1912), p.iv.

    There are two kinds of quacks:

    1. the quack who advertises remedies which can do no good to anyone beyond transferring money from one pocket to another

    2. the quack, so-called by the medical profession, who, though he cures pain and eases suffering, has the audacity to do it by methods of which the faculty is ignorant and is too superior to look into

    Patients popularity and publicity
    Patients: popularity and publicity Universal Pills.

    • Patients at Malvern

      • 600 in first season

      • 6,000 per year by 1861

      • Networks important in early years

    • Endorsement in published patient accounts

      • Edward Bulwer Lytton, Confessions of a Water Patient (1845)

      • Richard Lane, Life at the Water Cure or a month in Malvern (1846)

    Alfred tennyson in a letter to fellow poet edward fitzgerald
    Alfred Tennyson in a letter to fellow poet Edward FitzGerald Universal Pills.

    “I am in a Hydropathy Establishment in Cheltenham (the only one in England conducted on pure Priessnitzian principles. I have had four crises (one larged than had been seen for two or three years in Gräfenberg – indeed I believe the largest but one that has been seen). Much poison has come out of me, which no physic would have brought to light…I have been here already upwards of two months. Of all the uncomfortable ways of living surely and hydropathical is the worst: no reading by candlelight, no going near a fire, no tea, no coffee, perpetual wet sheet and cold bath and alteration from hot to cold: however I have much faith in it.”

    Edward bulwer lytton confessions of a water patient 1845
    Edward Bulwer Lytton, Universal Pills. Confessions of a water-patient, 1845.

    • ‘At the water-cure, the whole life is one remedy’.

    • ‘I threw physic to the dogs and went to Malvern’.

    • ‘the impatient rush into the open air…a hope that the very present was but a step…into a new and delightful region of health and vigour’.

    Conclusion Universal Pills.

    It is inaccurate to think of the c18th as a ‘golden age of quackery’

    Many practices/services/products continued into the c19th and even increased

    New systems of medicines emerged: attacked by profession, accepted by patients

    Problem with definition of ‘quack’ - associated with fraud

    Difficult for patients to distinguish

    Some had a genuine belief in medicine/services they offered and were effective, just not qualified e.g. community local healer

    Only way to practice specialism e.g. oculists

    Who was calling who a quack? Regular practitioners and competition

    ‘Quackery’ demonstrates the failure of the profession to cure and consolidate