The boy who got his wick stuck in a candlestick

The year is 1827, and if you wish to apprise yourself of the latest and most important developments in medicine you could hardly do better than browse the pages of The London Medical and Physical Journal. It is everything a medical journal should be: up-to-date, authoritative, and – above all – serious. What, for instance, … Continue reading The boy who got his wick stuck in a candlestick

Painful news from the Bobbin Factory

Here’s something that will make you wince, and then marvel at the human body’s recuperative abilities. In 1849 Dr Thomas Sanborn, a surgeon from Newport in New Hampshire, wrote to the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal: A young man, aged 23 years, engaged in the Bobbin Factory, was caught, while standing over a revolving arbor … Continue reading Painful news from the Bobbin Factory

Broken glass and boiled cabbage

Here’s a case reported in the London Medical Gazette in 1839 which we must file under ‘unbelievably stupid things done by young men’. It comes originally from a book published in 1787 by Antoine Portal, a distinguished physician who was personal doctor to Louis XVIII, and the founder of the French Royal Academy of Medicine. He … Continue reading Broken glass and boiled cabbage

The stone-swallower

Eighteenth-century authors were fond of giving their books ridiculously long titles – often so lengthy that they weren’t titles at all, but rather pedantic descriptions of each volume’s contents. Today I came across the longest book title I think I’ve ever seen – and it’s a medical book, first published in 1781: Hugh Smythson’s Compleat … Continue reading The stone-swallower