charging of the sexes

In “The Philosophy of IntercourseDr Edward Bliss Foote explains that, thanks to animal magnetism, the opposite sexes quite literally keep each other charged up. Intercourse was a spinning dynamo generating frictional energy between men and women. *

image found here

He was the author and publisher of his medical theories, the doctor who prescribed his own remedies, and the manufacturer and distributor of those very same medicines. 

The New York Times carried Foote ads trumpeting OLD EYES MADE NEW WITHOUT SPECTACLES and COMFORT FOR THE RUPTURED, and the enticing CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION FOR THE MARRIED. Foote patent medicines like his Magnetic Ointment and Magnetic Anti-Bilious Pills were hawked for impotency and—for your inevitable return visit after that first cure—for syphilitic and gonorrheal sores.

image found here

Foote was also associated with the latest in toilets. In one of those happily juvenile accidents of history, the greatest seller of water closets in Britain was Thomas Crapper. In New York, Foote’s friend Asa Butts was the most successful supplier of the Wakefield Earth Closet. 

image found here

The burnished mahogany Wakefields were handsome and refined. It made the act of toileting rather like relieving oneself on a really nice piano. It featured an array of levers and spring loaded slats to automatically cover everything up for you. In Britain, the Lancaster  Grammar School found them splendid for schoolboys, as their old water closets had kept getting clogged up “by reason of marbles, Latin grammar covers and other properties being thrown down them.”

image found here

Earth closets had healthful advantages too. Any number of Victorian neuroses become understandable when you learn that one previous mass produced water commode was named The Clencher. 

“The Clencher” found here

*The information above was found in Paul Collins’ fascinating book “The Trouble with Tom – The Strange Afterlife and Times of Thomas Paine”. He had quite a lot to say about Dr E. B Foote. You can read an earlier post about Foote’s amazing little book “Sammy Tubbs, Boy Doctor, and Sponsie, His Troublesome Monkey” here.

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53 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Always entertaining, always educational and often hilarious, this place called The Gimcrack. 🙂
    Note to others: do click the link to go back to the earlier post.

    • Dr Edward Bliss Foote was quite the man wasn’t he?

  2. I laughed out loud at The Clencher. Thank you nursemyra.

    • I laughed too. and then I clenched.

      • My dear, you are the last person I would have suspected of being anally retentive.

      • But then again you are a Virgo…. 😉

  3. How prescient was this Doctor Foote! I’m certain that Frank Zappa must have known of this fellow. (If that song is unintelligible, please examine these lyrics.)

    Hip hip hooray for all the “happily juvenile accidents of history”, and 3 cheers for the Troublesome Monkey.

    • gotta love that troublesome monkey

  4. Asa Butts – ha ha ha..


    • Even better than Thomas Crapper isn’t it?

  5. I could use some frictional energy… 😛

  6. Spinning and Sex ? Doesn’t have a thread of possibility

  7. “It made the act of toileting rather like relieving oneself on a really nice piano”

    This could very well be the best sentence I’ve ever read.

    • One of my favourites too.

  8. Fame at last at Gimcrack for my home town! Better than getting on the BBC!

    • you’re welcome looby

  9. I knew of Thomas Crapper but not Asa Butts! Ha!
    (Why is potty talk still so amusing or is it just me??)

    • It’s just you Beth 😉

  10. Cure gullibility today! Are you tempted by so-called miracle cures that turn out to be anything but? Do you fall for persuasive advertising that’s just a lot of vacuous spin? You need new, fast-acting Shutitout. Only £19.99 a bottle. Available now from or your local pharmacy. Don’t delay, end gullibility today!

    • there’s also their sister product for those who’ve already indulged their gullibility. It’s called Shititout.

  11. I don’t suppose a Wakefield could play Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’, too?
    Because it seems like that would have been nice.

    • the public toilets in Vienna play classical music

      • Seriously!?
        Wow – nice!

  12. Butts, Crapper & Foote – what a company!
    These Grammer School boys from Lancaster are in good company, archeology of the “Latrinen” is a special branch of city archeology, medieval and “Neuzeit”, very productive for everyday items and everyday life.
    Fortresses normally had at least one Latrinenturm (example of such a crappy tower here).
    BTW Luther, chronically constipated, says that he had the basic ideas about reformation while sitting on the loo – what would The Clencher have done to world history, if it was invented a bit earlier?

    • Luther was constipated? That explains a lot …

      • Read here. I think it only explains that he followed a lousy diet, drank not enough water and should have had a bit more excercise.

  13. Personally, I’ve always found looms to be very erotic.

    • the sight of them or the motion?

  14. Earth closets have healthful advantages.

    • a friend of mine had one in his country house. It was wonderful, you could put potato peelings and food scraps down it for the worms to eat. and it NEVER smelled bad

  15. “the opposite sexes quite literally keep each other charged up”
    I do agree. People often get the feeling of depression without social intercourse.

  16. Oh my, there are still people like Foote and some of them even promise the same stuff! I love that he’s a one stop shop though.

    Hilarious and I followed the link back to the earlier story. It was well worth it.

  17. Okay, staying charged up! Now I understand how I had the energy to do 22 credits every semester while I was in college.

  18. You’ve managed to link a free-thinker and great believer in equality to schoolboys dropping marbles down the toilet? I definitely need to read that book.

    • It’s great, I highly recommend it

  19. Magnetic ointment for impotence: presumably rubbed (vigorously?) into the male organ? I would really worry about that, since I suffered exposure to fall-out from the Chernobyl explosion that resulted in a (fortunately) temporary gaussification of my penis. That caused it to point always to Magnetic North…..particularly difficult for anyone standing next to me in a public toilet which faced East or West.

    • Gaussification? That’s a mouthful

  20. I must have turned into a twelve year old boy – sniggering away at all this talk of poop!

  21. We used to walk past Thomas Crapper’s shop on the King’s Road, Chelsea every day as children. The name never failed to amuse our infant minds.

  22. i’ve always been amused by the phrase “Take a crap”. It should be “Leave”, shouldn’t it?

  23. I’m a big Paul Collins fan! Met him a few times at book signings. He’s a real book man. Try Sixpence House. He moved his family to Hay-on-Wye, which is a book collector’s paradise.

    • It’s not available on kindle yet

  24. Where would we be without you Nursie!

    • Jams, so glad you’re back

  25. Pianos will now be my toilets.

    And BEWARE THE CLENCHER! It will come for you in the night!

  26. Would you be interested in doing a guest post on my blog, nursemyra?

    • Oh it’s so flattering to be asked. But my own blog takes up ALL my spare time. Many thanks for thinking of me though

      • that’s alright. at the end of the day, everybody is pressed for time!

  27. My grandmother used to say she was “going for a tinkle” when going to the loo – perhaps her expression had something to do with the Wakefield earth closet

  28. The Clencher doesn’t look nearly as intimidating as its name would suggest.

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