Object Name: colored etching, "The Golden Remedy—Or Electrical Panacea"
Inventory Number: 1998-1-1095
Dimensions: 0.1 x 39.1 x 26 cm (1/16 x 15 3/8 x 10 1/4 in.)
Description: This is a satirical color etching by George Cruikshank dating to 1817 (1792-1878), which depicts a dentist and other physicians administering the new, fashionable electrical shock treatment to various patients, which was used to cure hysteria and other nervous conditions, gout, and even paralysis. After Luigi Galvani (1737-1798) discovered ‘animal electricity’ in the late 18th century, which used tiny electrical currents to stimulate nerves and muscles in animals, similar ideas were applied to humans.
The scene takes place in an upper-middle-class drawing room with a maroon and yellow floral carpet, heavy, pink tasseled drapery surrounding a large window, and a painting with electrical bolts in the background. The scene includes various applications of the new treatment (from left to right): a man with puffy, red cheeeks admiring himself in a mirror; a young boy shocking a possibly hysterical woman with the static electricity generated from a cat by holding it beneath her dress, so that her hat and wig fly off of her head to reveal her unkempt, short hair; a dentist using electrical treatment on a patient's teeth;electricity either being applied to a man's swollen genitalia or his swollen knee; a patient with gout sitting on a green chair; a man on crutches standing in the doorway who hopes for an electrical cure; and another observer in the doorway who is working with a plate electrical machine (in modern day terms an electrostatic generator), who operates a conductor terminating in a ball near bell-jar (possibly a leiden jar to store electricity).
The etching's yellowed page bears a mark from adhesive tape in its lower right corner.
Accessories: slip of paper containing brief commentary
Inscribed: below image, center: The Golden Remedy—Or Electrical Panacea;
on the back of the image: Medical/ Also of Dental Interest/ as the Patient seated in high chair/ is being treated by Electrcity/ for toothache/ See Reid (617) for amusing description/ K-l-l- Very rare D 1640.;
on accompanying sheet of paper: Cruickshank, George. The Golden Remedy--or Electrical Panacea. Lively Caricature on electromagnetism and therapeutics. colored engraving (1817) 10-1/8 x 15 1/2 inches--$42.00 See Reid no 619, p. 60, for full description.
This Science and Society Library webpage
contains additional information on the work;
Reid, George William. A descriptive catalogue of the works of George Cruikshank : etchings, woodcuts, lithographs, and glyphographs, with a list of books illustrated by him, chiefly compiled from the collections of Mr. Thomas Morson, Mr. Edmund Story Maskelyne, and Mr. Edwin Truman / by George William Reid; with an essay on his genius and works by Edward Bell, M.A., and three hundred and thirteen illustrations.
London : Bell and Daldy, 1871.