Metallic Tractors

Tags: Gillray, Recent items.
Metallic Tractors
Hover your mouse over to magnify

James Gillray


London, H. Humphrey Nov. 11th 1801

Aquatint & etching

Original hand-colouring



A rare medical caricature by Gillray. A fat, ugly ‘cit’ sits in his armchair, hands clenched, and with an expression of startled agony on his face, as he endures an operation on the carbuncles of his bloated grog-blossom nose. The doctor, thin, high shouldered and with another instrument clasped in his mouth, holds the patient’s head with one hand, applies a sharp scalpel (tractor), causing flames to gush from the incisions. On the table beside them is a steaming jug, a decanter of Brandy, some fruit, a lemon, a clay pipe and a copy of the True Britain newspaper with an extensive advertisement for Perkins’ ‘Metallic Tractors’. Benjamin Perkins, a quack of Connecticut, advertised his patented ‘Tractors’ (mere pieces of metal) at 5 guineas a set, with the claim that they were effective in curing tumours, gout, burns, epilepsy &c. BM 9761.

From the collection of Dr. C.S. Warren, Descendant of Dr. Joseph Warren of Bunker Hill fame.