Item #119 - Davis & Kidder Electro-Therapeutic Shocking Machine, c. 1870-1890; Mahogany box 5" x 5" x 10"; In working condition - cranking the handle produces electric shocks; With two hand electrodes; original wire and connections in excellent condition; Comes with original key (case locks), Original cat-gut cord is still tight.


This early electro-therapeutic device produces alternating current electricity. The strength and frequency of the current is controlled by changing the cranking speed. Electricity is generated by a pair of solenoids that spin against the poles of a large horseshoe magnet. Gears and pulleys drive the spinning solenoids at a high rate of speed as the crank is turned.

The therapeutic value of the treatment, if any, was likely due to the placebo effect. With the electric shocks coursing through his body as he gripped the hand electrodes, the patient definitely felt that 'something was being done' about his complaint. Electricity was a new and novel force in the 1800's and most patients had no prior exposure to it, adding to its curative mystique

Testimonial printing inside box cover:

From Prof Silliman, of Yale College
Dear Sir: Dr. Walter Kidder has exhibited to me a Magneto-Electric Machine. For neatness, compactness, and facility and energy of operation, it is far superior to any instrument of the kind which I have seen. For medical application, it possesses very decided advantages. B. Silliman, Sen. New York, April 28, 1854

From Prof. Paige, Washington
Dear Sir: Upon examination and trial I find your Magneto-Electric Machine more efficient for its size that any I have ever seen. The improvement you have made is one possessing much scientific interest. Yours respectfully, Chas. G. Paige March 23, 1854