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Quicksilver: A History of the Use, Lore and Effects of Mercury

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Overview

Though modern scientists recognize mercury as a harmful environmental pollutant and one of the world's most dangerous elemental toxins, mercury was once considered a wondrous substance capable of eradicating internal disease, revolutionizing the paint and cosmetics industries and even entertaining the masses as part of amateur magic tricks and witch doctor scams.
This work traces the history of mercury in popular culture, beginning in the early eighteenth century when Dr. Thomas Dover, nicknamed "Dr. Quicksilver," began prescribing doses of raw mercury to clear out intestinal blockages and rid the body of syphilis and other diseases. The author then details the role of mercury in several medical, industrial, and cultural applications. In the fields of dentistry and vaccination, mercury continues to be used as a preservative and amalgamative agent. In the cosmetics industry, mercury was once used as a popular "skin lightener" in soaps and skin creams. In the early development of obstetrics and gynecology, mercury was once used to stimulate conception and fetal abortion. These uses of mercury, along with many more, are outlined in the work, while several appendices provide translations of rare works which reference mercury.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786435968
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/19/2008
  • Pages: 310
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Consultant Richard M. Swiderski is also the author of Anthrax (2004) and Multiple Sclerosis Through History and Human Life (1998). He lives in San Rafael, California.

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Table of Contents


Preface 1 Introduction 3
1 Silver into Black 11
2 The Women of Smyrna 25
3 Lab Work 39
4 Bread and Fish 66
5 Syphilis, Mercury, Syphilis 94
6 Little Blue Pills 120
7 Rob de Laffecteur 142
8 The Lightening Skin 162
9 The Rivers of California 191
10 Red Mercury 216
11 Cycling and Recycling 231
12 Persistence 241 Appendix A Cocles on The French Disease, 1504 261 Appendix B From The Dialogue of Mercury and Gaiac, 1527 262 Appendix C Mercury-Containing Skin Applications, 1928 264 Chapter Notes 265 References 281 Index 297
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