Featured Artifact

Branston Violet Ray High Frequency Generator, early 20th Century    

violet ray

Inventory Number: 2004.598.01.01

Manufactured by the Chas. A. Barnston Company in Toronto in the early 1900s, this is our most complete example of an Ultra-Violet Ray machine.

Beginning in the late 19th century, legitimate physicians and quack doctors alike began promoting the “curative and restorative powers” of electricity. Parallel to the rise in these devices becoming affordable consumer products, effective advertising marketed these deceptive products to potential customers. Claiming to cure every ailment that plagued modern life, these devices offered quick and fashionable fixes for most aches, pains, or personal dysfunctions.  As you can see from the image above, it is a handheld machine, with interchangeable glass applicators. When in use, the bulbs produced a stream of violet-coloured light, rapid vibration, and heat. Given the internal and intimate nature of this device, they were commonly targeted towards woman. This brand in particular was marketed as a restorer of one's natural energy, and ads featured women comfortably resting in their domestic sphere while using the product.