I’m always receiving emails about weird hair loss products that claim to do things they can’t possibly do. I’m sure most of you know this isn’t a new phenomenon, and so I decided to search for some historical hair loss “cures”. Turns out, the scams that exist today aren’t that much different from the quackery of 100 years ago.
In the late 19th century, Dr. George A. Scott was an advertiser of brushes for teeth, skin, and hair that claimed to cure everything from hair loss to headaches. I found a couple of ads for his Electric Hair Brush with some outrageous and ridiculous assertions that I thought the readers of this site would get a kick out of. But first, I wanted to learn more about the man behind the “inventions” and about the actual brush itself. For that, I turned to a fantastically informative site called American Artifacts.
From the American Artifacts site —
Dr. Scott’s Electric Hair Brush. One of the more famous quack devices of the 1880’s, advertised in Harpers Weekly and other popular magazines. Dr. Scott’s 1881 patent claimed merely several magnets embedded in a plastic material and a mold for holding the bristles, which are also embedded in the hard rubber. There is the usual crack across the handle – the metal rods embedded in the thermoplastic material and running the entire length of the brush prevent the handles from breaking. Marked “No 5” and “Dr. Scott’s Electric” on the underside of the handle, and “The Germ of all Life is Electricity”.
The image above is one advertisement I came across from 1882. There’s a larger and more detailed version available here.