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“What would you give to have your old vim back again?” asks an advertisement in the Vancouver Province. “What would you not sacrifice to feel as you did a few years ago; to have the same snap and energy, the same gladsome, joyous, lighthearted spirit and the physical strength you used to have? I am making men out of wrecks every day, and I can make you as good a man as you ever were with DR. MCLAUGHLIN’S ELECTRIC BELT.”
“It never fails to cure,” claims the advertisement, which features an ink drawing of a muscular, shirtless man pointing toward the heavens. “A grand opportunity for weak men who have tried to get cured and failed. Dr. McLaughlin’s Electric Belt with its Electric Suspensory is the grandest invention of the age for building up wrecked humanity.”
The Dr. McLaughlin Company, which appears to sell primarily to the Canadian market, has been operating out of a number of U.S. and Canadian cities since the at least the 1870’s. The devices (literally a belt with electrodes and copper wiring attached) generate a weak electric charge, and, in certain cases, even include a “genital loop”, which aims to restore “youthful ambitions”.
The electric belt market will be at its peak throughout the first decade of the 20th century, with a model even appearing in the 1902 Sears & Roebuck catalogue.
“Tell me where you are,” the ad promises, “and I’ll give you the name of a man in your own town I’ve cured.”