We recently featured a gallery of horrifying electrical inventions designed to keep human and horse libidos in check. John Ptak, the curator of that previous gallery of terrors, has shown us more ridiculous electrical devices from the late 1800s-early 1900s.
Here's a curious casket that William J. Gouhin of Ashtabula, Ohio filed for a patent in 1935. Can you guess what it does?
This invention relates to certain new and useful improvements in burial caskets of the type having means for sealing the lid to the casket for the exclusion of air, moisture, and the elements.
Okay, that's a little weird, being vacuum-sealed like a package of astronaut ice cream for all eternity, but I supposed stranger things have happened. Let's delve into some quackier inventions, like this little 1898 number from M.N. Clarke of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania:
My improved electrical apparatus comprises an electrode consisting in a plate of conducting metal perforated throughout its area, the perforations being preferably countersunk on one or more side of the plate. I have found in practice that charges of electricity may be administered by means of my improved electrode without shock or inconvenience to the patient [...and] what otherwise might prove a shock becomes an otherwise pleasant sensation.
Wait, what's this device called? "An electrode for medical purposes?" Oh my, we're looking at a vibrator that electrified women to prevent "female hysteria." Moving right along.
Here's another casket from P.J. Backus that was patented in 1913. The idea behind this invention was that you monitored the comatose/dead person's vitals from outside the casket. No use throwing the baby out with the bath water!
If they were definitely dead, you just left them inside the casket to rot. Totally effortless! And here are some more anti-live-burial technologies that may be of interest.
Here's a mildly terrifying device known as simply as "The Electrical Spray And Vapor Bath." It did what it said on the tin, but did not come equipped with that disconcerting naked man.
You can see many more of the odd contraptions — including a rather ghoulish device for electroplating human bodies (top) — over at Ptak Science Books' Electro-LUXurious round-up.