Health devices of all sorts now play a key role in our everyday lives. From Covid LFTs to Fitbits to surgical robots, it is difficult to imagine 21st century health and medical experiences without technology. While little studied, early modern London was also a place filled with health technologies including 2-feet long ear trumpets, wonder drugs and the infamous bloodletting tools and bowls. This presentation takes a look at two seventeenth-century health objects – Sir Richard Carew’s warming stone and George Hartman’s ingenious engine. By analysing a flurry of medical adverts and pamphlets, we will learn more about contemporary ideas of the body, and reflect upon the place of medical entrepreneurship and everyday technologies in early modern healthcare.
Elaine Leong lectures at University College London having joined the university in 2019 from the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin where she led the Minerva Research Group ‘Reading and Writing Nature in Early Modern Europe’. Her research is centred upon medical and scientific knowledge and transfer, and she is currently working on a Wellcome Trust funded project, ‘Technologies of Health c.1450–1750’ which aims to recover histories of everyday health objects, such as warming stones and medical adverts.