Rare Trade Card of “Magnetic Healer”

March 24, 2017

The Victorian trade card (a forerunner of the later business card), pictured here, is graced by the engraved portrait and facsimile signature of H.N. Wheelock. He is described on the reverse as a “Mental and Vital Magnetic Healer”—that is, one who treated both mind and body. “WILL THOU BE MADE WHOLE?” he asks.

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Unique Quassia Cup: Made Its Own Medicine!

March 10, 2017

The cures were in the wood of this nineteenth-century medicinal goblet. It supposedly turned ordinary water into a powerful tonic for treating fever and numerous other ailments.

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March 01, 2017

More funny riddles from a skeptical view.

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“Otto’s Cure” for Consumption, Etc.

February 17, 2017

“Otto’s Cure for Throat & Lungs” was allegedly effective for diseases including whooping cough and consumption (tuberculosis). (There were many such bogus consumption cures.)

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Ghost in the Window: At Toronto’s Colborne Lodge

February 10, 2017

According to many sources, Colborne Lodge at Toronto’s High Park (where I visited in 1973) is still the residence of the lady of the house, Jemima. Illness confined her for many years to her upstairs bedroom, until she died in 1877 and was buried on the property. “To this day,” states Dennis William Hauck in his The International Directory of Haunted Places (2000, 155), “her apparition is seen staring out that same upstairs master bedroom window, looking down at her iron-fenced gravesite and massive monument.” Hauck goes on to explain that she was the wife of Sir John Colborne, lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, but he is mistaken.

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“Hidden Figures”: A Nickell-odeon Review

February 01, 2017

Hidden Figures is an important, must-see movie. It tells the inspiring story of three African-American women who rise above the sexism and racism of the 1950s and 1960s to work as “human computers” at NASA, helping to launch Americans into space.

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Cartoon: Immigrant/Refugee Ban

January 31, 2017

Artwork by Joe Nickell.

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St. Jacobs Oil: New Acquisition

January 24, 2017

My recent acquisition of another St. Jacobs Oil liniment bottle warrants this update. My earlier blog (St. Jacob’s Oil, January 8, 2014) told how German immigrant August Vogeler (1819–1908) came to America and founded a patent-medicine business by 1845; after 1878 he and his son Charles were selling “ST. JACOBS OEL” (sic, using German spelling). I only described their early bottle but showed a photo of a later one.

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Relic Madness

January 19, 2017

The mania for holy relics—in Catholicism objects once connected with the body of a saint—stems from belief that a relic is imbued with miraculous power including supernatural healings. Not surprisingly, this superstition has led to many excesses.

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A Tramp-art Cross

January 11, 2017

In my previous blog, “A Tramp-art Picture Frame,” I focused on a typical work of that folk-art genre. Here is a very different example (see photograph).

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