goatish gonads

One of our favourite characters here at the Gimcrack is Dr Serge Voronoff who has been mentioned in not one, not two, but three posts before. Serge was responsible for transplanting bits of monkey testes into aging men. John Brinkley went one step further – he became a millionaire during the twenties by transplanting goat glands instead.

Brinkley and wife found here

While working as house doctor at the Swift meatpacking company, he was dazzled by the vigorous mating activities of the goats destined for the slaughterhouse. Later, after Brinkley had gone into private practice, a farmer named Stittsworth came to see him. Stittsworth complained of a sagging libido. Recalling the goats’ frantic antics, the doctor semi-jokingly told his patient that what he needed was some goat glands. Stittsworth quickly responded, “So, Doc, put ’em in. Transplant ’em.”

image found here

Most doctors would have ignored the bizarre request, but Brinkley was not like most doctors. In fact, he wasn’t a doctor at all. Although he had spent three years at Bennet Medical College in Chicago, he’d never graduated. He called himself a doctor on the basis of a $500 diploma he had purchased from the Eclectic Medical University of Kansas City.

“Eclectic” found here

Buying a degree from a diploma mill was not out of character for Brinkley. He had worked as a snake-oil salesman in a road show, and then, with fellow con man James Crawford, established Greenville Electro Medical Doctors. Under this name the pair injected people with colored distilled water for $25 a shot. Brinkley, therefore, had all he needed to capitalize on the farmer’s idea of goat-gland transplants: he was unethical, he had a wobbly knowledge of medicine, and he had witnessed the rambunctious behavior of goats.

image found here

Brinkley went to work, implanting a small piece of goat gonad in Stittsworth’s testicle. Soon the farmer was thanking the doctor for giving him back his libido. And when his wife gave birth to a boy, whom they appropriately named Billy, Stittsworth spread the word further. Brinkley’s business was booming and even at $750 per transplant, he couldn’t keep up with demand. All men needed the Brinkley operation, he declared, but the procedure was most suited to the intelligent and least suited to the “stupid type.” This, of course, ensured that few of his patients would admit that they had not benefited from the operation.

Baby Billy Bob found here

Revenue from the surgeries made Brinkley an immensely wealthy man. For $5,000, he would even implant genuine human glands, which he obtained from prisoners on death row. He had mansions, a fleet of Cadillacs, airplanes, and yachts.There were occasional problems like when Brinkley decided to use angora goat testicles instead of those from the more common Toggenberg goat. Recipients of the angora testicles were unhappy—Brinkley himself noted that they reeked like a steamy barn in midsummer. 

image found here

But ultimately Brinkley couldn’t cure himself. The Milford Messiah—as he was sometimes called—the man who had performed over 16,000 goat testicle transplants, the man who appropriately wore a goatee all his life, developed a blood clot, forcing doctors to amputate his leg. Till the very end, Brinkley’s scheming mind remained active. Confined to bed, he decided to study for the ministry and had visions of becoming a big-time preacher but he died before he could complete his degree.

conduct unbecoming

James Barry (c. 1789 –  1865), was a military surgeon in the British Army.

image found here

“Among his accomplishments was the first caesarean section in Africa by a British surgeon in which both the mother and child survived the operation. Although Barry lived his adult life as a man, it is widely believed that he was born a female named Margaret Ann Bulkley and that he chose to live as a man so that he might be accepted as a university student and be able to pursue his chosen career as a surgeon.

image found here

Margaret was born in Ireland in 1789, the second child of Jeremiah and Mary-Ann Bulkley. The child’s mother was the sister of James Barry, a celebrated Irish artist and professor of painting at London’s Royal Academy. However, a family crisis left Mary-Ann and Margaret without the support of Jeremiah Bulkley. Letters during this time of financial hardship refer to a conspiracy between Mary-Ann and some of her brother’s influential, liberal-minded friends to get the teenager – then still known as Margaret – into medical school.

self portrait by James Barry found here

A letter to the family solicitor shows that Mary-Ann and Margaret travelled to Edinburgh by sea in November 1809.  The letter also indicated that the younger traveller had assumed a male identity upon embarking on the voyage. Following his arrival in Edinburgh, Barry began studies as a ‘literary and medical student’. He qualified with a Medical Doctorate in 1812, then moved back to London.

Edinburgh found here

Barry was commissioned as a Hospital Assistant with the British Army, taking up a post in the Royal Military Hospital in Plymouth, where he was promoted to Assistant Staff Surgeon. After that he served in India and South Africa. Barry’s next postings included Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, and the island of Saint Helena. In Saint Helena he got into trouble for leaving for England unannounced. Later he served in Malta, the Crimea, Jamaica, and Canada.

St Helena found here

He was a misfit from the start: less than 5ft tall, he wore stacked heels and had to have 3in soles fastened to his boots to give him elevation. But the flamboyant styles of the day – men dressed effeminately as a fashion, not a sexual statement – worked in his favour. 

elephant dung stacked heels found here

He rapidly became known for his foibles, which included sleeping every night with a black poodle called Psyche, riding about in dress uniform wearing a cavalry sword and taking a goat everywhere so he could drink its milk. Despite “a most peculiar squeaky voice and mincing manner”, as one ambassador’s daughter noted, Dr Barry’s fierce temper ensured he was a force to be reckoned with.

goat found here

Barry was not always a pleasant fellow to be around. He could be tactless, impatient, argumentative and opinionated. He reputedly fought a couple of duels when someone commented on his voice and feminine features, though he appears to have had a good bedside manner and professional skill. He was a vegetarian and teetotaler and reputedly recommended wine baths for some (lucky) patients.

Wine Bath image found here

James Barry retired in 1864 — reputedly against his wishes — and returned to England. He died from dysentery a year later. Sophia Bishop, the charwoman who took care of the body, discovered his female anatomy and revealed this information after the funeral. Many people then claimed to have “known it all along”.

when you’re tired of bacon and beer

Vincent M Holt published an excellent pamphlet in 1885 suggesting his readers look further afield than bacon and beer for delicious menu items

image found here

“What a pleasant change from the labourer’s unvarying meal of bread, lard, and bacon, or bread and lard without bacon, or bread without lard or bacon, would be a good dish of fried cockchafers or grasshoppers.

Fried grasshoppers found here

Cheese-mites, the grubs of a small fly, are freely eaten by many persons, whom I have often heard say “they are only cheese.” There is certainly some ground for this assertion; as these grubs live entirely upon cheese; but what would one of these epicures say if I served up to him a cabbage boiled with its own grubs? Yet my argument that “they are only cabbage” would be fully as good as his. As a matter of fact, I see every reason why cabbages should be thus served up, surrounded with a delicately flavoured fringe of the caterpillars which feed upon them.

Sushi caterpillar found here

At one time, insects being prescribed as remedies by village quacks and wise men made people, at any rate, familiar with the idea of swallowing them. Wood-lice, which conveniently roll themselves up into the semblance of black pills, were taken as an aperient; centipedes were an invaluable specific for jaundice; cockchafers for the plague; ladybirds for colic and measles.

Steelblue Ladybird found here

In Arabia, Persia, and parts of Africa there are regular locust shops where they are exposed for sale; and among the Moors they are highly valued, appearing in the menu at the best tables. Their method of cooking is to pluck off the head, wings, and legs, boil for half an hour, flavour with pepper and salt, and fry in butter. As I can myself bear witness, of which more hereafter, this recipe applied to our English grasshoppers renders that despised insect a truly tasty morsel.

cooked grasshopper found here

The Chinese, making use of “the worm, a thing that crept on the bare earth, then wrought a tomb and slept” as food, eat the chrysalids of the silkworms after the silk has been wound from off the cocoons. They fry them in butter or lard, add yolk of eggs, and season with pepper, salt, and vinegar.

male silkworm found here

Even Spiders have been relished as tid-bits, not only by uncivilized nations, but by Europeans of cultivation. For Reaumur tells of a young lady who was so fond of spiders that she never saw one without catching and eating it. Lalande, the French astronomer, had similar tastes; and Rosel speaks of a German who was in the habit of spreading spiders, like butter, upon his bread.

spider cupcakes found here

Wood-louse sauce is equal, if not distinctly superior to, shrimp sauce.The following is the recipe: Collect a quantity of the finest wood-lice to be found, and drop them into boiling water, which will kill them instantly, but not turn them red, as might be expected. At the same time put into a saucepan a quarter of a pound of fresh butter, a teaspoonful of flour, a small glass of water, a little milk, some pepper and salt, and place it on the stove. As soon as the sauce is thick, take it off and put in the wood-lice. This is an excellent sauce for fish. Try it.

Published in: on April 3, 2011 at 9:41 pm  Comments (47)  
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Tone up that vag!

Marion Sayle Taylor was a broadcaster in the 1930s known as The Voice of Experience

The title of “Doctor” was applied to him at the suggestion of William Jennings Bryan when he was already well known as an adviser to the lovelorn. Bryan suggested that Taylor call himself “Doctor of Matrimony.” Taylor was careful never to give any medical advice— except to endorse the patent medicines which sponsored his programs: Wasey Products (Musterole, Kreml Hair Tonic, and a brace of nostrums known as Zemo and Haley’s CTC, for stomach acidity).


Before adopting the career of mass confessor, Taylor was a proficient organist. He was guest organist at the St. Louis Fair of 1904 but an automobile accident crushed his hands in 32 places and took him from the manual.

origami organist found here

So successful was his booming voice and his clean handling of sex problems that he employed 29 private secretaries, all male, to answer his intimate correspondence. In addition to broadcasting, Taylor had time to write 120 pamphlets on such subjects as “Facts About Fruits“, “Why Be Unique?”, “Why Take Your Own Life?”, “The Nudist Fad“, “Feminine Shapeliness”, “War of the Sexes”, “Square Pegs in Round Holes”, “Promiscuous Kissing“, “The In-Law Problem” and “Are You Afraid of Insanity?“. He also has a wife and a daughter, lives on Manhattan’s Park Avenue, with a private gymnasium in his apartment to keep himself fit.


The practical charity that Mr. Taylor does is enormous. From his own pocket he has paid for innumerable funerals, bought wooden legs and glass eyes, met rent bills. In 1934 alone The Voice paid for 413 blood transfusions and the hospital bills of 583 unwed mothers.


According to the Bureau of Investigation, he also sold a patent medicine known as Vagitone.

It used to come as a liquid but now, with a name change to La-Fon, it has been put out in powder form. He also sells a device that he calls Vagispray. M Sayle Taylor has appeared at motion picture theatres in connection with films of an erotic character. He has also given “stage presentations”  in which were used “living models” and “human charts”.


Taylor puts out an elaborate little book “The Male Motor”, a treatise devoted to the promotion of a device called the “Thermalaid”, a rectal dilator with a rheostat attachment.


bloody beef

Back in the 17th century, meat was not just something you dished up for dinner – it could also act as a rather large band aid.


“Take a piece of lean salt beef and let the beef be of that greatness that it may fill the wound, and lay it in the fire in the hot ashes till it be hot through, and all hot stuff it in the wound and bind it fast.”

Cures for constipation or stomach upsets also involved food that was not ingested in the usual way.


“A suppositor good for those that are troubled with the collicke or the winde is half a flattened fig with some bay salt rolled up inside it, skin inwards. Tie it with thread, grease with butter and administer to the patient

It was a time when many believed that a woman’s uterus moved about in her body and could be threatened back into position. Nowadays a prolapse is usually treated with pessaries or surgery (how many times do I have to tell you to keep doing your kegels? are you clenching now? good… keep at it) but back then doctors believed in scare tactics

the least horrifying image of a prolapse I could find

“”You may fright it back in with a hot iron presented near the opening as if you would burn the falling part

And beef makes another appearance during pregnancy as a way of preventing miscarriage

“Take a fillet of beef half roasted hot from the fire, then take half a pint of Muscat wine, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and grains of paradise. Make a sauce, divide the beef in two and dress with the sauce.

Then bind one piece to the bottom of the woman’s belly and the other to the kidney area of her back, as hot as may be suffered and keep them on twenty four hours at the least and longer if need thereof.”

grease her up with bacon lube

Published in: on October 18, 2010 at 7:18 am  Comments (37)  
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Piano-playing, Harvard-educated Putzi Hanfstaengl was Hitler’s foreign press secretary.

image of Putzi and British PM found here

Putzi excitedly told Adolf about the hypnotic effect of college cheering sections at U.S. football games and, at the piano, demonstrated the “buoyant beat” of U.S. brass bands. Recalls Putzi: “I had Hitler fairly shouting with enthusiasm. ‘That’s it, Hanfstaengl, that is what we need for the movement, marvelous,’ and he pranced up and down the room like a drum majorette.” The “Rah, rah, rah!” refrain of Harvardmen, by Putzi’s account, became the thunderous “Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!” of the Brownshirt demonstrations.

image found here

An accomplished pianist, art dealer and amateur historian, Hanfstaengl looked down his cultural nose at Hitler. Not only did the man resemble a suburban barber on his day off; he could not tell a Caravaggio from a Michelangelo. Worse, he seldom paid his debts, loved to stuff himself with pastry and whipped cream, sat delightedly through three showings of King Kong. Hitler, says Putzi contemptuously, was a Muttersöhnchen (mamma’s boy).

Caravaggio or Michelangelo? (rhetorical question)

“I felt Hitler was man who was neither fish nor fowl, neither fully homosexual nor fully heterosexual,” he explained. “You can drink very weak tea, or very thin absinthe and you can suffer from very diluted sex inversion.”

Putzi was one of the many who believed that Hitler suffered from syphilis.  At the time of his supposed infection it was still thought that the pox could only enter through a flaccid penis, so men who practiced coitus interruptus would achieve some measure of safety.

One of the “cures” used on Hitler by his personal physician, syphologist Dr Theo Morrell, was the application of leeches to his head to alleviate buzzing in his ears.

Emo Hitler found here

He also gave him Homoseran, derived from human placenta and capsules of Mutaflor which contained bacteria cultured from the faeces of a vigourous Bulgarian peasant, after which, for a time, he felt better.”

care for a chocolate, dearest?

From the 15th century onwards, syphilis spread throughout Europe and beyond. Most of the supposed cures were almost as bad as the disease itself

image found here

It wasn’t until 1943 that penicillin became the standard, successful treatment. Until then, suggested remedies were creative if not bizarre. Unsuspecting wives were fed mercury-laced chocolates by their infected husbands, says Hayden.

Transylvania truffles found here

“Men were told to be sure after engaging in risky sex to wrap the endangered organ in a piece of cloth soaked in wine, shavings of guaiac (the wood of the guaiac tree was thought to penetrate areas of body mercury couldn’t reach), flakes of copper, precipitated mercury, gentian root, red coral, ash of ivory and burnt horn of deer.

Penis Gourd found here

“If a chancre (ulcer) did appear, the ulcerated part was to be covered with a spider’s web and a band of violet fabric.”

Beethoven’s hearing loss is believed to be due to syphilis. One doctor suggested to him that he grate fresh horseradish on a cotton cloth and insert it in his ears. Another recommended tincture of green nut-rinds in lukewarm water be dropped into the ear canal while yet another advised Beethoven to try direct applications of electric current.

Galvanic Life Renewer found here

Franz Schubert is also thought to have died from syphilis. In 1826, his friend Bauernfeld wrote “He is out of sorts and in need of young peacocks like those that cured Cellini”. In 1832 he consulted Professor Karl Kuhl who prescribed an “animal bath”

“Thierbäder” meant contact with animal warmth and substance. A Berlin dictionary of medical practice describes one simple method in use in 1830 as putting the affected part into the thoracic or abdominal cavity of a freshly-slaughtered animal and keeping it there as long as the natural warmth lasted. Schumann speculated (no doubt half humorously) that something of the nature of cattle might pass into his own. He added that he found the treatment invigorating.

The list of famous people who died from this insidious disease is a lengthy and depressing one. It includes Al Capone (perhaps we’re not so sad about his loss), whose photoshopped image appears below. Click the link to see some funny Charlie Chaplin photoshopping over at freakingnews.com

Published in: on March 30, 2010 at 7:36 am  Comments (42)  
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like a cat around a cream jug

In 1929 Werner Forssmann*** was a surgical intern working at Auguste Victoria Home near Berlin.

image found here

“He was interested in the feats of Chaveau and Marey, who were the first to achieve measurement and recording of blood pressure from the interior of the heart of a living animal.

Marey inserted a tube into the horse’s circulatory system at the jugular vein, guiding it downward until the top, equipped with a balloon, was actually positioned inside the right ventricle. The balloon responded to the pumping action of the ventricle and sent the impulse through the catheter to a toy drum that Marey was holding near the opposite end of the tube.

Marey’s apparatus found here

With this process in mind he approached his superior for approval to try an experiment on a human using the antecubital rather than the jugular vein. When permission was refused he  decided to go ahead with the procedure by experimenting on himself.

image found here

This would involve enlisting the help of a surgical nurse and to this end he started to prowl round Nurse Gerda Ditzen like a sweet toothed cat around the cream jug. He persuaded her to be his accomplice and such was her faith in him that she wanted to be the experimentee. Agreeing that the nurse would go first, Dr Forssmann strapped her to the table as though that were a prerequisite for the procedure.

image by Karin Szekessy

He then moved behind her head, anesthetized his own arm, punctured his vein and in the space of a moment pushed the catheter down more than a good foot inside. Facing the wrath of Gerda, he untied her and she helped him to the x-ray room where he pushed it in almost to the two foot mark and took x-rays as documentary evidence.

Many years would pass before the now standard procedure of cardiac catheterisation would be fully exploited but recognition of Dr Forssmann’s pioneering work came in 1956 when he shared a Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology.

image of Forssmann receiving Nobel Prize found here

*** Extract from an article by Diana Berry found here

the odd habits of two Irishmen

Richard Whately (1787-1863) was the Archbishop of Dublin. He was also a spiritualist.

image found here

“The Archbishop had been long a believer in Mesmerism, and latterly in clairvoyance and Spiritualism. “He went from one extreme to another, until he avowed an implicit belief in clairvoyance, induced a lady who possessed it to become an inmate of his house, and some of the last acts of his life were excited attempts at table-turning, and enthusiastic elicitations of spirit-rapping.”

A favourite amusement of the Archbishop’s was to study the phrenological developments of his comrades; and on one occasion, referring to the peculiarly flat-topped head of a neighbour, he propounded what he called the “new phrenological test ” :- ” Take a handful of peas, drop them on the head of the patient; the amount of the man’s dishonesty will depend on the number which remain there. If a large number remain, tell the butler to lock up the silver and plate.”

He lived on Marlborough Street in Tyrone House, not so very far from Cavendish Row where the eminent chemist and geologist, Richard Kirwan (1733-1812) had lived.

On Wednesdays, at six o’clock, he received his friends. “At 7:00 the knocker was removed from the hall-door to prevent latecomers from being admitted. If his guests had not departed by 9:00 pm he put on his pajamas and escorted them to the door.

Kirwan was found on these occasions reclining on a couch rolled in a cloak, with another cloak covering his lower limbs, and wearing a hat, and with a blazing fire in the room at all seasons. Mr. Kirwan had a great abhorrence of flies, and he allowed his servants a small premium per dozen for each one they could kill and bring to him.

His servant, Mr Pope, slept in the same bedroom and was instructed to wake him every two hours to pour hot tea down his throat. Most likely by accident, Pope would often miss Kirwan’s mouth and dump the tea in his eyes, on his nose, and hair making a horrible mess in the bed. The purpose of all the tea drinking (camelliaphagia) was to sustain internal body heat throughout the night.

spiky teapot by Alex Metcalf found here

Published in: on March 17, 2010 at 9:00 am  Comments (35)  
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the proximal end of a donkey’s tail

Li Shih-Zhen’s Compendium of  Materia Medica took 27 years to write, including 10 years which he spent entirely indoors.

According to traditional Chinese pharmacological literature, pubic hair was claimed to be therapeutic, with power to cure snakebite, difficult birth, abnormal urination, the yin-yang exchange disorder and the ox that suffers from bloating.

image by Ferry Bertholet found here

The following were almost certainly used as medicine in 16th century China: human dandruff (best taken from a fat man), human knee dirt, ear wax, perspiration, old drumskins (ashed and applied to the penis for difficult urination), the juice squeezed out of pig’s faeces and dirt from the proximal end of a donkey’s tail.

image found here

During the same era in Europe, human fat was thought to be good for rheumatism and joint pain. Dutch army surgeons in the war for independence from Spain used to rush on to the field with their scalpels and buckets in the aftermath of a battle.

more butter sculpture to be found here

Then druggists would fancy up the goods by adding aromatic herbs and lyrical product names such as “Woman Butter” and “Poor Sinner’s Fat”. They also sold menstrual blood as “Maid’s Zenith” and prettied it up with rosewater. One recipe of the time called “Spirit of the Brain of Man” included not only brain membranes, arteries, veins and nerves but also peony, black cherries, lavender and lily.***

Black Cherry Comic found here

*** from Mary Roach’s book Stiff

Published in: on March 16, 2010 at 7:51 am  Comments (38)  
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