Inside the Collection

Regional Services: Eden Workshop

Remnants of an apparatus for administering electrical shock treatment
Photography Powerhouse Museum © all rights reserved

Our Regional Services Program recently held a conservation workshop in the small town of Eden, NSW. This intriguing object was brought to the workshop by Joanne Grant of the Mallacoota Bunker Museum who was seeking advice on its conservation.

The wooden box contains the remnants of an apparatus for administering electrical shock treatment. It states on the inside lid that it was used to treat nervous conditions, but at the time these devices were believed to cure a wide range of ailments from hair loss, to cancer.! It is believed to have been used on the Yambulla goldfields and was found discarded in the bush in the 1960s or 1970s.

Tim Morris, conservator, Powerhouse Museum, and Joanne Grant from Mallacoota Bunker
Image courtesy of Jody White, Eden Killer Whale Museum

Tim Morris, conservator, Powerhouse Museum, and Joanne Grant from Mallacoota Bunker examining the medical equipment thought to have been used to administer shock

After inspecting the box conservator Tim Morris suggested using ‘animal glue’ to repair some of the damage, and offered further support and assistance in preserving the device.

Workshops, such as the one held in Eden, are important in providing advice on how to preserve objects of historical importance that are held in small museums across the country.

Joanne states that ‘I am not a professional – just a volunteer at the museum who obviously loves history and does the best that I can enthusiastically, but with limited resources! I was very grateful for the opportunity to attend the workshop with Tim and learn about his work. I wasted no time in checking the Powerhouse website to look at some of the resources that he mentioned and feel sure that this will be accessed frequently in future! Thanks once again for your interest and your valuable assistance.’

3 responses to “Regional Services: Eden Workshop

  • I love these machines. Unfortunately I don’t have a photograph of it, but there is one in the Wellington Shire Archives at Yarram, Victoria, that I catalogued in 1996. It was in pristine condition. It was formally handed down through the Secretaries of the former Shire of Alberton, who thus had access to it when needed to treat their nervous conditions engendered by the councillors and ratepayers. (tongue firmly in cheek – but it was part of the shire secretary’s formal paraphenalia)

    I am sure they would be prepared to provide you with a photograph.

    NUMBER W00375
    OBJECT Magneto Electric Machine
    DESCRIPTION A Magneto electric machine housed inside a
    wooden box. Inside the box are instructions
    on printed paper. There is a large horse shoe
    magnet inside, a wheel and two large spinning
    weights. On the outside of the box is a
    turning handle to operate the device, a key
    hole, speed knob. Left to Right are two brass
    holes to plug in the brass handles. The 2
    brass handles are small tins with one open
    end and the other end has a red and blue wire
    connecting the left and right of the box. The
    red and blue wires have a brass pins at each
    end of the wire which connect into the sides
    of the box. Inscriptions on instructions are:
    Improved/ Patent Magneto Electric Machine/
    For Nervous Diseases. First prize medal
    London 1862, Silver medal Paris 1889, Silver
    medal Paris 1878.
    MAKER Gray, Joseph & Sons, Truss Works, Sheffield
    SIZE H=10cm X W=22cm

  • Dear Linda
    thanks for the comment and information. I will pass on to the museums contacts in Eden and Mallacoota. Sharing information like this makes the work of documenting objects so much easier for all. You might like to check out our resources mentioned in the article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.