A73_799.jpg Medallion, James Morison. Collection of Puke Ariki (A73.799).

At first glance this medallion may look like a remnant of some lost civilisation, but it’s really just a bit of shameless self promotion. It features the bust of James Morison, a famous 19th Century English ‘quack doctor’. Morison, who called himself “the Hyegist” earned fortune and fame from his medical work and theories, which revolved around the theory that all illness was caused by impurities in the blood. Thankfully, as well as identifying the problem, Morison himself had the cure, in the form of his own powerful laxatives, “Morison’s Vegetable Pills”. The medical profession waged war on Morison and his dodgy medical practices, but his marketing flair ensured that his concoctions still sold well. 

This medallion, which features Morison’s birth date and other illegible promotional bumpf, was just one way of making his remedies respectable. Morison had earlier formed his own medical school, naming it The British College of Health and published various promotional tracts. He died of cholera in Paris in 1840, apparently, but unsurprisingly, after refusing conventional medical treatment. 

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