You’ve read about the Kardashians and all their waist cinching nonsense but I hate to bring the bearer of bad news but it is nothing different than what happened years ago.
The titillating Electric Corset was first designed and sold by none other than a Cornelius Bennett Harness, who was the proprietor of the Ammoniaphone. The Electric Corset wasn’t really electric, or science in action, but merely a magnetized steel busk . I can’t imagine wearing that sucker today next to my refrigerator literally zapping myself throughout the day.
Like Dr. Howard from Carleton Place, Harness was a bit of a quack and tried to cover up the fact that his company was in trouble financially. The good doctor was already being hauled over the coals for his hernia belts and now on a slippery slope for his electropathic empire.
Like most quackery medicine and devices in the day one would say that Cornelius Bennett Harnesshad ‘alternative facts’ about his products. The Electrical Review however was not taking any prisoners in their opinions about Harness. The Medical Battery Company immediately began talks to the various publications that advertised his product less they repeat any of these “malicious comments” coming from consumers.
W.H. Smith & Co., did stop selling the corset, so the periodical’s owners took Harness to court and were granted damages of £1000. In October of 1893, the Pall Mall Gazette stopped accepting advertisements from the Medical Battery Company and printed a series of articles headed ‘The Harness “Electropathic” Swindle’
In reporting the case, the Electrical Review described Harness’s activities as ‘one of the grossest cases of misrepresentation of the present day.’ In response, Harness sent a circular to newsagents warning them that he would hold them responsible for these ‘malicious libels’ should they continue to sell the Electrical Review. Many, including W.H. Smith & Co., did stop selling it, so the periodical’s owners took Harness to court and were granted damages of £1000. In October 1893, the Pall Mall Gazette stopped accepting advertisements from the Medical Battery Company and printed a series of articles headed ‘The Harness “Electropathic” Swindle’.
Of course this resulted in a lot of customers demanding their money back. Wouldn’t you? In early November 1893, Harness and his business associate, Dr James McCully were arrested and charged with unlawfully conspiring to defraud. NO, really?
McCully was found not guilty but the jury couldn’t seem to decide the fate of Harness so the court ordered the company shut down. Of course Harness tried to open another business but no matter how often he advertised the general public had caught on to his shenanigans and the company went bust.
Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun