High blood pressure...cancer...goitre...stomach
Radium cures, which reached their pinnacle of popularity in the U.S. during
the 1920's, promised to remedy these diseases, restore youthful vigor, and
revitalize an ailing sex life. Our radium case contains the Cosmos Bag, bottles
of Radithor, the Rator-Plac, Revigators,
fiestaware, and a geiger counter.
(Photos by B. and J. Gaukel. large
Fiestaware? We don't collect pottery but were asked to display red fiestaware
to warn folks. In 1943, when the U.S. was developing the atomic bomb, the
government was surprised to learn that a pottery maker was buying significant
amounts of uranium! The glaze in
fiestaware made prior to 1943 contains small amounts of radioactive material.
The Cosmos Bag, 1928
Manufactured by Henry Cosmos, the cloth bag made of course cotton contains
a small amount of low grade radioactive ore. It was applied to rheumatic
and arthritic joints.
Radium Water Cures
Radioactive water, popular in the 1920's, was consumed by doctors and patients
alike. Radioactive water is said to have a tonic effect. The
Revigator, a crock lined with radiactive ore, was
used to produce radioactive water at home. One scientist estimates
that water left in these crocks overnight was five times as radioactive as
the maximum recommended for well water today.
Radithor: Pre-mixed Radium Water
was pre-mixed radium water manufactured in New Jersey by W. J. A. Bailey
during the 1920's. Bailey called it "A Cure for the Living Dead" meaning
a cure for mental illness and retardation. One of Radithor's fans was
Beyers, a steel tycoon in Pittsburg. Mr. Beyers drank 1400 bottles of
Radithor and became so seriously ill with radium poisoning that portions
of his mouth and jaw were surgically removed before he died in 1931. His
death, noted on the front page of the New York Times, marked the beginning
of the end of the popular radium water cures.