Jason Clarke Antiques

Late Victorian Dr Richardson’s Magneto Galvanic Battery Medallion


For sale, a Late Victorian Dr Richardson’s Magneto Galvanic Battery

This fascinating Victorian quack medicine device is formed as a medallion comprised of a mixture of metals including nickel, zinc, copper and brass. The medal has concentric rings of metal with a series of circular discs of metal on the inner circle formed around a cross in the centre. The cross is engraved to the front with, “Richardson’s Magneto Galvanic Battery” ” with lightning bolt motifs in the remaining space to denote the healing qualities of the electrical effects produced by wearing this medical aid when it is activated through the body’s perspiration.

The reverse is further engraved with, “Patented & Registered in US, GB, France & Italy etc and with similar surrounding motifs.

This US invention was initially patented in December of 1879 by an Edward P Caldwell of Philadelphia although the marketing suggests that a New York Company named AM Richardson & Co seem to have been the namesake and main distributors of the medallion with some advertising stating “an Agent wanted in every town”.

The original patent is careful to say nothing of the healing qualities of this device but rather focuses on the “unique and ornamental” design. Its initial incarnation was provided with a heart shaped motif to the centre but other designs such as this were later developed.

Perhaps more a lesson in shrewd marketing rather than medical science and without the strict regulation, the Richardson Company’s advertising was somewhat bold in its product’s capabilities:


For Man, Woman or Child! Throw away Drugs! Try Nature’s Remedy!

Are you suffering from Neuralgia? Are you afflicted with Dyspepsia? Have you Rheumatic troubles? Is your stomach out of order? Have you Collic or Bilious Affections? Have you Kidney Disease? Is your Liver torpid? Does your Back Ache? Are your Feet & Hands cold? Is your blood impure? Do you feel Blue, Depressed or Languid? Is your system broken down? Has excesses injured your health? Do you suffer from Nervous Debility? Have Bad Habits injured your powers? Are you Nervous, Despondent, Melancholy? Have you weakness of Mind & Body? Do you feel the need of a tonic?


It will infuse “Electricity” into your system, invigorating, stimulating, and putting new life in every nerve of your body. It will not only purify the blood, give vitality and strength to the nervous system, and cure you, but it will cost you little, will do no harm and is certain, pleasant, and positively the only safe and certain cure for all Stomach, Blood and Nervous Complaints of whatever nature.”

Little other information seems to be available on the dealings of the Richardson firm although its success cannot be doubted. Period British advertising has an address for “Dr Richardsons Magneto-Galvanic Battery Co” trading from 47 Basinghall Road in London so it seems that sales warranted a UK trading company. At what point the owner of AM Richardson & Co passed his medical exams is also not clear!?

In a similar vein to the Magneto shock machines that are still numerous today, these devices really show the effects of the development of electricity in popular culture. Its healing qualities may not have stood up to rigorous examination but they reflect the interest and the various attempts to capitalise on this growing scientific branch.

The company claims to have sold over three million of these medallions but it is likely that they had a reasonably short but lucrative trading period.

Circa 1885

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