Accession No


Brief Description

electro-galvanic machine for treating a variety of medical problems, by Horne, Thornwaite, and Wood, English, late 19th Century


England; London; 123 Newgate Street


Horne, Thornwaite, and Wood


electrical; medical;

Earliest Date

Jan. 1, 1850

Latest Date

Dec. 31, 1900

Inscription Date


wood (mahogany); metal (brass, zinc, silver); paper; ceramic


width 235mm

Special Collection


Purchased from Christie’s LOS ANGELES, 360 North Camden Drive, Beverly Hills, California, 90210, USA, on 17/10/2000.


signed onthe coil and battery
Horne, Thornwaite, & Wood, Successors to E. Palmer, 123 Newgate Street, London

Description Notes

English electro-galvanomic machine, late 19th century signed on the battery Horne, Thornwaite, & Wood, London.

An induction coil with mahogany ends and lacquered brass electrical fittings mounted on a mahogany base. Comes with the ceramic battery jar, with original mahogany and brass electrode holder with used zinc and silver electrodes attached and seperate mahogany and brass handles. In the original mahogany case with applied trade label and the instructions pasted to the interior of the lid.


Henry Schmidt; 'Frogs and Animal Electricity'; Explore Whipple Collections online article; Whipple Museum of the History of Science; University of Cambridge:


This electro-galvanic machine was built in the late 19th Century (likely between 1886 and 1893) by Horne, Thornwaite, and Wood at 123 Newgate Street London, where they ran an instrument company. Metal electrodes channelled current through specific contact points on the body, each selected for a precise medical purpose.

Covering the lid's inside surface is a pamphlet on "Administering Medical Galvanism". Scientific studies on the medical uses of Galvanism proliferated in the second half of the 19th Century. They claimed, for its uses, the healing of paralysis and other disorders related to the nervous stimulation of muscles. Some used Galvanian stimuli to treat hoarseness, ocular distortions apparently due to anaemia, asthma, and constipation. Several obstetricians tried to induce and facilitate labour by administering shocks to pregnant women, which usually met with tragic results.
Created by: Morgan Bell on 05/11/2020


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