London Galvanic Generator in Gagate

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An English example of the London Galvanic Generator, circa 1881. This electro-therapeutic medical medallion was sold through the Pall Mall Electrical Association in England and by George A. Scott in the United States.

The pendant is made from copper zinc inlay in a black jet or gagate frame with a brass loop. On one side, within an art nouveau floral border, a winged putto clutches lightning bolts in each hand. The reverse features a copper centerpiece with a zinc clenched fist radiating lightning bolts. The jet frame reads London Galvanic Generator and Pall Mall Electric Ass’n.

The American advert quotes an 1881 testimonial and claims that the Generator (which the purveyors emphasise is not a Battery, Pad, or Medal) promises quick cures to Stomach, Liver & Kidney Complaints, Constipation, Gout, Debility, Heart-burn, Rheumatism, Neuralgia, Weak Stomach, Dyspepsia, Aches And Pains, Weak Back, Malaria, Chills & Fever, Nervous Troubles, Sciatica, Vertigo, Indigestion, & all their Complications.

The electrical current produced when certain metals are juxtaposed was attributed healing properties. The therapeutic use of electric currents was referred to as galvanism the devices which used them as galvanic generators. Despite the absence of any supportive scientific evidence they were hailed as panaceas and their widespread use from the late 19th and well into the 20th century was no more than quackery.

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