Thursday, March 31, 2005


BoingBoing notes an exhibit of Medical quackery at the Philadelphia Museum of Art:
The quack has long been a popular and profitable subject for artists in Europe and the United States. The exhibition includes works by such well-known artists as Jacques Callot, William Hogarth, Honoré Daumier, Maxfield Parrish, and Jules Chéret, and some highly spirited works created by less familiar figures. These range from an early seventeenth-century Dutch engraving, Operation for Stones in the Head, a sleight-of-hand cure for insanity, to Medical Confessions of Medical Murder, a twelve-scene print in which James Morison, a clever marketer of pills, uses quotations from prominent physicians taken out of context to impugn their practices. The Health Jolting Chair, an 1885 color lithograph of a seated woman, demonstrates the ability of electricity to secure the "most highly prized Feminine Attractions"; Nancy Linton, a hand-colored lithograph of the same era, illustrates the dubious benefits of taking Swaim’s Panacea; and The Travelling Quack, an 1889 political satire, assails British Prime Minister William Gladstone for promoting an "Infallible Home Rule Ointment."
That illustration is "Singular Effects of the Universal Vegetable Pills on a Green Grocer! A Fact!" by Charles Jameson Grant (British, active 1829-1866. Were I but a Philadelphian, I'd go see it.

I'll just have to content myself with imagining the modern equivalents of Gladstone's bane.

  • The Infallible Privatization Tincture?
  • The Wolfowitz Democracy Jolting Chair, take one invasion and call me when it's raining flowers?
  • Bush's Fantabulous Dissent Reducer?
  • The Cheney Atrial Ailment Almanac?
  • Gail Norton's Operation for Petroleum in the Ice?
  • Bill Frist's Fabulous Floridian Extract of Electoral Votes?

Try it, it's fun.