Dr. Guy Clifford Powell's Electro-Vibratory Apparatus
for the
Cure of Deafness

Dr. Guy Clifford Powell's Electro-Vibratory Apparatus for the Cure of Deafness; Peoria, Illinois, c. 1905; Black leatherette covered box approx 10" x 8" x 7"; Very good condition; Includes stethoscope, white rubber tube has cracked, as shown; Comes with 4-page instruction leaflet and clipping advertisement. Instruction leaflet is reproduced below, along with a contemporaneous article about Dr. Powell and his enterprise.


Top view, showing vibratory arm, solenoid coils, diaphragm.

The two contacts below the nameplate are for plugging in wires that attached to cotton ear-buds. The buds were soaked in salt water and inserted into the ears and the high-voltage kick generated by the solenoid coils was sent through the patient's head. The ear electrodes were not found with the instrument, and would in any case be rather unpalatable from use. The selector switch set the intensity of the electrical shocks.

Close up of arm pivot, showing return springs and sliding weight used to adjust the vibrating frequency.

Close up of leather diaphragm, still in excellent condition, and fitting for stethoscope.

Nameplate and vibratory rate scale. The instrument came pre set for the correct vibration rate for the customer's expressed complaint. However, no rate is shown in the manual for 'extreme gullibility'.

Sticker on inside of lid. The original picture is of a generic building - Dr. Powell's name, encircling the edifice, and the artistic pennant flying from the cornice were added by hand when the printing plates were made.

Stethoscope fittings and the original white rubber hose. The rubber has hardened with age.

Removing the top cover reveals the batteries.

The batteries are in good condition, with no leaks. The customer was cautioned to only use Dr. Powell's brand of battery.

From The Great American Fraud, By Samuel Hopkins Adams, 1905-07

So complete and satisfactorily does Powell fulfill every tradition of the quack industry that I shall catalogue him under specific headings, as an instructive type.

(A) Claims. "Deafness Cured at Last. Wonderful New Discovery for the Positive Cure of Deafness and Head Noises. At last, after years of study and research, the wonderful Nature Forces have been harnessed together and Deafness can be cured. If I did not know positively that my method could cure I would not allow my name to be connected with this treatment. . . . Write to-day to the discoverer, Guy Clifford Powell."

(B) Catchword. Electro-Vibration. "Electro-Vibration, which is my method of treatment, is heralded by the greatest scientists of this country as the most scientific and certain treatment of the age."

(C) Religious Sponsor. Rev. Father Sydney G. Jeffords, rector of St. Stephen's Church, Peoria, Illinois, who writes a to-whom-it-may-concern letter, in which he says: "I consider Dr. Powell one of the most careful and exhaustive investigators in his special line to be found anywhere."

(D) Editorial Sponsor. The National Journal of Health (a congener of the fake New York Health Journal and of the American Journal of Health), which editorializes as follows: "Dr. Guy Clifford Powell has perfected a system of treatment that actually cures, as we know from its results. It is known us the Electro-Vibratory apparatus for the cure of deafness and head noises," etc.

(E) Depreciating Scale of Prices. From $100 by swift degrees to $15.

(F) Typical Correspondence. The diagnosis of the case indicated, beyond possibility of doubt, hopeless deafness from destruction of the apparatus of hearing by an explosion.

  • Letter I Addressed "Dear Friend," assures the patient of complete and permanent cure "at your home."

  • Letter II Admits that the case is difficult, but refers the sufferer to the cured case of a Mr. Kelly, almost exactly similar, whose address Dr. Powell has unfortunately lost. Price of treatment $100! reduced to $30 because of "special interest" in the case.

  • Letter III Warning that the $30 price lasts only fifteen days.

  • Letter IV Expressing surprise that "Dear Friend" has failed to avail himself of the unparalleled opportunity. Dr. Powell "firmly believes" that if the patient had ordered at once he .would "at the present moment be well on the road to recovery." Terms now $5 down and $25 after trial. "I could not make an offer more fair to my brother," he pathetically avers.

  • Letter V Price drops to $25. "Should you place your case with me I will cure you." The doubts expressed in No. II have fled before the fear of losing the catch.

  • Letter VI "It has been and is now a matter of no small wonderment to me why you so persistently neglect so important a matter as the treatment and cure of your affliction. I have cured many cases similar to yours. My professional honor is at stake, and I am not going to make a false or misleading statement to secure you as a patient." Terms $25 cash, or $15 cash and two monthly payments of $7.50 each.

  • Letter VII and last "Fortune is now knocking at your door," and Dr. Powell makes a "special and confidential price of $15," to secure "a cured patient in your neighborhood right away," and for this, gives me "the most positive assurance of a rapid and complete cure."

This is the Complete Letter-Writer of quackery. Of the seven epistles six are form-letters, sent exactly alike to every patient, and abounding in general promises, equally and fallaciously inapplicable to every cases. Dr. Guy Clifford Powell's "Electro-Vibratory Cure for Deafness" isn't worth $100, or $30, or $25, or 25 cents, except as its patent right, owned by the "discoverer," is an asset in his swindling operations.