|Pulvermacher's Electric Chain|
My vacation reading included Claire Tomalin’s Charles Dickens: A Life. You’d think, after all this time, all the bios, all the scholarly papers, there’s nothing new to learn about Dickens. Au contraire.
Maybe I overlooked it elsewhere, but, among other things, I discovered that Dickens’s health was worse than I'd supposed, and he suffered from gout (which he pretended was something else—there was a lot of fiction in his life as well as his books). And to treat his painful foot, on the night before he died, he ordered “a ‘voltaic band,’ a type of electric chain that had become a fashionable all-purpose cure, recommended to him by the actress Mrs. Bancroft and supplied by Isaac Pulvermacher, Medical Battery Maker.”
And yes, of course I tracked the thing down for our readers’ edification.
You can read about it in this detailed pamphlet. And this pamphlet explains all the ailments it supposedly cures. And you can read the the Wikipedia overview, with illustrations. And Hand-Book of Natural Philosophy 1856 explains some more here.
|Puvermacher's advertisement 1859|
Please note the impressive list in the ad, of those endorsing the device.
Clicking on the image will enlarge it. Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.