Gillray, James (English, 1757-1815)

Metallic Tractors


Reference Type:
Artwork
Year:
1801
Notes/Description:
This print caricatures a treatment known as Perkins Tractors, invented by American physician Elisha Perkins, who patented them in 1796. The theory was that the tractors, usually one of brass and one of silver, worked through the natural electricity present in the physician's body to draw disease out of the patient. The treatment affects both men: the tail of the physician's wig flies out, while the patient's eyebrows rise in shock and his hands and teeth clench. The surprised and concerned reaction of the dog reflects that of numerous people who did not believe the device effective, even though Perkins claimed to have cured thousands. Notes by Mariann Smith
Keywords:
Art
Art of Medicine
Quacks
History of Medicine
Collection:
Science Museum, London