Every so often I come across some ninteenth-century thing that makes me giddy. Today is one of those days. I generally go ga-ga over anything nineteenth century and electric, so it’s not surprising this new discovery has got me really excited. I give you Dr. Scott’s electric corsets:
This great site, American Artifacts, gives us a little information about Dr. Scott, who was an Englishman and the electric device guy. He patented electric toothbrushes, hair curlers, and, yes, electric corsets! The corsets were medicinal, claiming to alleviate back pain, sluggishness, and encourage general health. But they were also fashionable, at least according to the advertisements, with no visible difference from a regular corset and coming in handsome cases. It is totally interesting to me that the electric phenomenon that is associated with the free-thinking Whitmanian democracy in literature would literally be manufactored in the ninteenth-century corset, which is symbolic of restrictive feminity. I’ve never really thought about the commodification of electrical power, but this is one really great example. Also, given the title of my blog, this little ninteenth-century device is really awesome. Women who chose to wear this corset were literally zapping themselves throughout the day and could include more zapping opportunites throughout their daily routine with electric curlers, brushes, and toothbrushes. And let’s not forget about the electric vibrator, which is left out of this advertisement but also provided more zapping options. I don’t have much more to say about this at the very moment, but I think this is so very rad and I am definitely going to have to think about this more.
The entry on Dr. Scott at americanartifacts.com can be found at this link: http://www.americanartifacts.com/smma/scott/scott.htm.
And I’ll here with the featured image of this post, another ad for Dr. Scott’s corset, which has those lovely little electric bolts emanating from the corset. Literally, electric ladies zap!