'Metallic Tractors', print, by James Gillray, London, England, 1801

Made:
1801 in London
publisher:
Hannah Humphrey
maker:
James Gillray

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Hand coloured caricature aquatint and etching `Metallic Tractors'. J. Gillray, invt & fect, Published by H Humphrey, London Nov. 1801, 27 St. James St.. 25x32cm.

‘Metallic Tractors’ is a caricature of a treatment better known as Perkins Tractors, named after its inventor, Elisha Perkins (1741-1799), an American physician. Two tapered rods made of different metals – normally brass and silver – were passed over the body and, it was claimed, drew out disease using electricity. The tractors were said to be charged from the natural electricity present in the user’s body. Perkins patented his invention in 1796.

Despite claims that Perkin’s invention cured over five thousand people in England of various complaints, the treatment was widely discredited and was labelled by many as ‘quackery’.

This print was etched by James Gillray (1757-1815), a British caricaturist.

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Details

Category:
Art
Object Number:
1980-909
Materials:
aquatint, etching, hand coloured engraving, paper
Measurements:
overall (mounted, lying flat): 10 mm x 384 mm x 292 mm, 1.261 kg
type:
print
taxonomy:
  • visual and verbal communication
  • visual and verbal communication
credit:
Sotheby and Company
status:
Permanent collection

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