The Bindley Pharmacy Collection is nearly all packed, thanks to the work of Jean Wilkinson. Over 100 boxes have been filled with herbs, medicines, bottles and jars. Below the display cabinets, other unique instruments and health appliances have been stored over the years. This week’s Historical Treasure is just such a device — with a somewhat colored past and questionable present.
In 1893 Nikola Tesla introduced the first portable Tesla coil at the World’s Columbian Exposition. By the early 20th century, his basic design had been adapted into Violet Ray High Frequency Current technology, an early American energy medicine categorized in the field of electrotherapy.
Most violet rays were produced before the Great Depression. This Marvel Violet Ray was patented Aug. 24, 1924. According to the instruction booklet, “Violet Rays present a remedy upon which we can rely. They are positive and certain in action. They will reach where medicine does not, and often cannot – yet they cause no pain, no disagreeable sensation or discomfort. They furnish a soothing relief. They destroy germs and have a strong power over infection.”
Basically, the device was plugged in and the glass applicator tubes would glow bright purple with the high frequency energy. The energy waves being emitted could then be applied to the problem area of the body. A multitude of applicators were available (both internal and external … but we’ll not delve further into that topic.) Daily treatments were recommended for a wide variety of ailments, from abscesses to wrinkles.
Yet, the Violet Ray came under attack in the 1940s. Numerous lawsuits eventually led to the ban of Violet Ray manufacturing in the US. However, companies outside of the U.S. still make and offer this device today. Several varieties can be found online, some even using the name of noted American clairvoyant, Edgar Cayce, who advocated for the use of Violet Rays in nearly 900 of his readings.
Today there seems to be a renewed interest in holistic healing, homeopathic and alternative medicine, natural remedies and energy healing. Use of herbal supplements and essential oils as well as alternative and energy therapies like reiki, reflexology, and acupuncture are becoming more main stream. Is the current conflict over CBD oil and medical marijuana a modern replay of the Violet Ray saga? No matter your stance on these issues, further insight can always be gleaned by looking to our history.
The Vigo County Historical Museum closed its operations in the Sage Mansion Sixth Street and Washington Avenue on June 1 to prepare for the move later this year. The archives are still available for research by appointment. The museum will offer a sneak peek of the new History Center at 929 Wabash Ave. from 5 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 7.