Red fabric covered metal plaque
Metal plaque covered with red fabric, part of Improved Patent Magneto Electric Machine for nervous diseases, dynamo with steel magnet and brass and ebony terminals to apply to patient, all in polished wood case dated, unsigned, Europe, 1862
In the 1800s, mild electric shocks were a popular treatment for a range of aches and pains, especially those associated with the nerves. Although little more than medical quackery, thousands of these machines were made. Electricity was produced using the large magnet and the strength of the electric shock was controlled by how fast the crank was turned. The ebony and brass handles were placed on the patient’s body to deliver the shock. To prevent the patient feeling too much pain, it was recommended that a wet sponge be placed between the handle and the body.