Relating to Quacks, Quackery and Nostrums, part 1
"Quack is a pejorative term, disparagingly, albeit sometimes defensively, applied by a member of the establishment, the orthodox, regular, professional, credentialed and accepted class to describe the unorthodox, unlicensed, disapproved member of a fringe or irregular group. It is a term of condemnation employed when one wants to belittle another. Above all, the term has become associated with the sellers of medicines and the marketers of medical systems, those with the "true" method of curing specific ills or, in an earlier day, all the ills of mankind.
While the origins of the term are obscure, the term “quack” probably came from the Dutch Quacksalber, a charlatan, mountebank, empiric or itinerant seller of medicine. It may also have been derived from the sounds made by a duck, the term applied to the hawker of nostrums whose excessive zeal in describing the merits of his or her cure may well have sounds similar to the squawking of a duck. The chatter of the quack, in most cases more like torrent s of words, would have been familiar to both town and rural populations even in the ancient periods, for quacks have long been well known in every society. Over the past four hundred years they have been representative figures in folktales, stories and especially in prints, drawings and political caricatures…” –William H. Helfand, from Quack Quack Quack
1. "Nancy Linton: A faithful representation of her actual appearance & condition after having been cured by the use of Swann’s Panacea", c. 1833, by C Hullmandel (from a drawing by WH Kearney)
2. "The Dance of Death: the Undertaker and the Quack." 1816, by Thomas Rowlandson (from Wellcome Library)
3. "Singular Effects of the Universal Vegetable Pills on a Green Crocer! A Fact!", 1841, by Charles Jameson Grant
4. "Quackery - Medical Minstrel Performing for the Benefit of Their Former Patients - No other Dead-heads Admitted", 1879, by Joseph Keppler - from Puck
5. "The Travelling Quack", 1889, by Tom Merry