A 19TH century electric shock machine which Victorians used to treat cancer and spinal deformities is going under the hammer.

The Magneto Electro Machine was patented in 1854 by Davis and Kidders.

They claimed the gadget could relieve pain and help beat cancer, tuberculosis, diabetes, gangrene, heart disease, lockjaw and spinal deformities.

Patients using the machine would have handles placed in their hands or elsewhere on their body, and a crank would be turned to deliver a mild electric shock.

The machine has an estimate of £30 to £50 when it goes under the hammer at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers this week.

It is among around 200 objects collected over three decades by physicist John Wilson, known as Dr J Patrick Wilson.

Dr Wilson, who had a PhD in physics and worked as a lecturer at the University of Keele, Staffs., gathered the scientific objects throughout his career.

Following his death in 2016 at the age of 81 his wife Gillian has decided to sell his collection to prevent them “gathering dust.”

Other items being auctioned include morse code machines, microphones and voltmeters to a 1900 generator.

Mrs Wilson, a retired teacher from Newcastle Under Lyme, Staffs., said: “He loved taking things apart and putting them back together again.

“He liked to know how things worked. It was something he was fascinated with from


“There are pictures of him playing with oil lamps when he was a little boy.

“As for the electric shock machine, I’m not sure where it came from but we all had to have a go.

“It just gives you a small electric shock.

“He used to go to scientific fairs and also found items at market stalls and antique fairs.

“Most went into his study but some were displayed in our living room.

“Friends were fascinated by them and often asked what they were.

“He was also very, very good at fixing things.

“He worked for the charity Remap which creates custom-made items for disabled people.

“He could think outside the box.

“As well as fixing things, he could adapt items.

“We have two grandchildren and they’d sometimes pick something up and say, ‘grandpa’s adapted this hasn’t he?’

“We’d lose him for hours in his study.

“These things have just been gathering dust at home for years.

"I just hope the people who buy them will enjoy them as much as my husband did.”

Dr Wilson, who lectured in communications, neuroscience and electronics, also co-authored a book with Peter Rowlands called Oliver Lodge and The Invention of Radio, about a key developer of radio.

Auctioneer Charles Hanson said: “The Magneto Electro Machine is one of hundreds of pieces of equipment saved for posterity by Dr Wilson.

“When invented, this item could be purchased by general consumers as well as physicians and hospitals

“This is a museum piece, which provides an understanding of medical knowledge in the mid-1800s.