When electricity was new, people had high hopes that it had curative powers.  Unlike other "magical" cures, electricity could be felt.  Electropathy, very popular from 1850-1900, promised to cure most diseases and conditions including mental illness. The patient held a metal cylinder, a hand electrode, while the healer applied a second electrode to the ailing body part.   Electrode attachments were manufactured in a variety of shapes. The electrodes connected to an electrical source such as a magneto, chemical battery or battery box.

1854 Davis Kidder Magneto and Early Chemical Battery (8K)

Back left:  1854 Davis Kidder Magneto, 4 3/4" x 10" x 4 7/8". Brass hand electrode shown center back.

Front: Early Chemical Battery Generator.  Top, front left, 4 7/8" x
4 7/8". Case, front right, 5 3/8" x 5 3/8" x 6"

[Large image, 428 x 596, 21K]Photos by B. and J. Gaukel.

Early Chemical Battery Generator

The battery was made by the Nonpareil Co. founded in 1855.  The instructions were:

Add 8 oz Sulphuric acid,
5 pints water
and disolve 7 1/2 oz of Pulverized
Bichromite Potassa in mixture.

The Davis Kidder Magneto

The Davis Kidder Magneto, patented in 1854, is a simple machine which generates electricity using a magnet.  A hand-turned crank operates gears (connected by a thin leather belt) which spin a velvet-covered armature.  This generates an electric flow conducted over cloth-insulated wires to the 2 inch brass electrodes.  The current produced is low voltage - using the machine briefly is not unpleasant. Use causes involuntary muscle contractions.


See also our Violet Ray Generators page.

History through Today

Medical Magnetos

Batteries and Motors

"" previous   next""

Quick Links to Electrical Quackery


Museum of Questionable Medical Devices
updated 4/13/2013