Is this rare quack Inhalatorium medical gas chamber the only one left?

I messaged the online seller that I couldn’t afford to buy it, so the next best thing is to share its history and backstory.

Worn Over Time has been authorized to repost this eBay listing description by seller, hill-billybob. Enjoy, especially the YouTube video.

This super rare 1905 Terre Haute Inhalatorium Cabinet is probably the only one left in existence.

Image for post
Image for post

The late Bob McCoy of the world famous quackery museum, The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, tried for many years, until he died, to acquire this “machine” from me, but I just couldn’t part with it then. And I don’t care if I sell it now, but I have too many antiques and collectibles, and some of it, if not all of it, has to go.

Image for post
Image for post

My ex-wife (twice removed) and I bought this Inhalatorium Cabinet back about 35 or 40 years ago, from De Ridder’s Antiques in Forney, Texas. I worried about buying it for several months, as he wanted an arm and a leg for it (my wife had an extra set, so I was OK with that). But it also had a creep factor of 10, and I just wasn’t as weird back then, as I am now.

Image for post
Image for post
An artist’s rendering of an Inhalatorium (appx. 1901)

Mr. De Ridder had told me he got this quackery cabinet from a guy that had gotten it from the West Texas area. Thru the years of searching since the internet came out, I feel pretty sure this is the same cabinet that was sold to Dr. W.H. Miller of El Paso, Texas, prior to 1905. And I believe this same cabinet was then sold to Dr. Oscar A. Young of El Paso, sometime prior to 1913. I have copies of newspapers ads advertising this particular cabinet in a notebook included in the sale.

The brass tag, and color finish on the inside and outside are all original, as are the little paintings. When you open up the door, you can still smell the unusual odor from over 100 years ago.

Mr. Bob McCoy had on loan from the American Medical Association, an original owner’s manual for the Inhalatorium, so he was kind enough to make me a copy, and send it to me. It has different recipes to cure tuberculous and other diseases, all quackery nonsense of course.

Image for post
Image for post
Drugs are volatilized under steam pressure in the inhalatorium for treating respiratory, ear, nose, and throat diseases, or for giving medical baths. It is claimed that drugs can be introduced by the medicated bath to produce general systemic effect.

It also had information as to how much you should charge your customers for their treatments, and it was a LOT. This Inhalatorium cost 600 dollars new (converted, that’s $15,478 in 1905 money). At this huge amount of money, I don’t believe many of these were actually produced, regardless of Dr. Robert’s claims.

The American Journal of Clinical Medicine, Volume 18, Issue 6 (1911):

There has been a constant demand for a cheaper Inhalatorium; one that would come within reach of the practitioner who cannot see his way clear to invest $600 to $1000, and in order to meet this demand we are now manufacturing Inhalatoriums in eight different styles, ranging in price from $275 to $1000. They are the very best that can be furnished for the money and are sold on very reasonable terms.

And I believe World War 1 and World War 2 scrap drives pretty much wiped any remaining ones off the face of the earth. Besides, this thing is so big and heavy, I don’t see anyone storing one of these inside for over a hundred years. Show me another one!

Click here for the YouTube video!

Worn Over Time has been authorized to repost this eBay listing description by seller, hill-billybob. Hope you enjoyed it!

Have fun guessing and learning about our collection of unusual objects at WornOverTime.com.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store