Electrotherapy equipment, c 1800.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
An electrotherapeutic machine invented by Edward Nairne (1780-1809). Turning the handle rotated the glas drum against a leather pad, thus producing a considerable amount of static electricity. In the late 18th century, Luigi Galvani (1737-1798) discovered 'animal electricity'. Nerves and muscles in animals function by tiny electrical currents, and can be stimulated by outside electricity. Soon electrical treatments were in great fashion, and were believed to be able to cure all manner of complaints, from gout to paralysis.