Roger's Vitalator

Made:
1925 in London
maker:
Ideal Home Electrical Appliances Limited
Roger's Vitalator

Roger's Vitalator
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Musuem

Roger's Vitalator , an electromedical instrument made by Ideal Home Electrical Appliances Ltd, 1925.

The Vitalator, in its unassuming wooden box, claimed to give relief to, or cure, an impressive array of conditions from warts to hair loss, aches and pains in the muscles and nerves and even deafness. It also claimed to be an aid to beauty.

Roger’s Vitalator is an electromedical therapy device for personal use at home. It was designed to administer a high frequency, low voltage electrical charge to the body through glass vacuum attachments on electrodes. Once plugged into the mains electricity the machine was controlled by two dials, one to change the voltage and one to increase the power. The electrode attachments were placed against the area of the body with the ailment. The local effect of the current on the body ranged from a gentle sensation of heat to a sharper sparking effect. It was said to work by increasing the richness of the blood and the flow of the lymph by constricting and then releasing the blood vessels.

The Vitalator had around 50 different electrode attachments designed to administer the healing current to specific body parts. This kit includes four: a comb for scalp conditions and hair loss, a metal electrode for weak nerves, a general surface electrode for skin and facial treatment, and a rectum electrode to treat hemorrhoids.

Electric therapeutic devices such as these were developed from the late 1800s and into the mid-1900s. During this time, electricity had an allure as it was newly discovered, the public knew very little about it, and it had powerful effects. Companies capitalised on this, and electrical instruments claiming all sorts of health benefits quickly spread into 20th-century consumer culture. By the 1950s, they were going out of fashion due to medical advances, increased understanding of how the human body worked, and the realisation that the device claims were unfounded.

Details

Category:
Domestic Appliances
Object Number:
Y1974.34.178
Materials:
wood (unidentified), metal (unknown), plastic (unidentified), glass and leather
Measurements:
Case (closed): 190 mm x 270 mm x 285 mm,
type:
medical instrument
credit:
Purchased from Gordon S. Fowler