An Interactive Annotated World Bibliography of Printed and Digital Works in the History of Medicine and the Life Sciences from Circa 2000 BCE to 2022 by Fielding H. Garrison (1870-1935), Leslie T. Morton (1907-2004), and Jeremy M. Norman (1945- ) Traditionally Known as “Garrison-Morton”

15959 entries, 13943 authors and 1935 subjects. Updated: February 28, 2024

PERKINS, Benjamin Douglas

1 entries
  • 8654

The influence of metallic tractors on the human body, in removing various painful inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatism, pleurisy, some gouty affections, &c. &c: Lately discovered by Dr. Perkins, of North America; and demonstrated in a series of experiments and observations....by which the importance of the discovery is fully ascertained, and a new field of enquiry opened in the modern science of Galvanism, or animal electricity. By Benjamin Douglas Perkins, son to the discoverer.

London: J. Johnson, 1798.

In 1795 Dr. Elisha Perkins (1741-1799) of Connecticut introduced the use of “Metallic Tractors” for the treatment of a wide range of disorders, including pains in the head, face, teeth, breast, side, stomach, back, rheumatism and gout. During the next decade the devices were the subject of intense controversy in America and Europe. The Tractors measured about 3” long and were sold in pairs; they were made up of certain metals (their precise composition was kept secret) that perportedly worked through the agency of “animal magnetism.” A great number of ailing consumers paid huge prices for Perkins’s Metallic Tractors; George Washington bought several sets. The Perkins name may have been the first successful international “name branding” campaign. Elisha Perkiins did not publish on the "Tractors," leaving that aspect to his son Benjamin Douglas Perkins. This book was not published in America; presumably because with the craze for the product in America there was no need to publish a book to promote the "Tractors" there. Digital facsimile from the Internet Archive at this link.



Subjects: COUNTRIES, CONTINENTS AND REGIONS › United States , Quackery, RHEUMATOLOGY › Gout (Podagra), THERAPEUTICS › Medical Electricity / Electrotherapy