Nuggets – bite size chunks of London


Chris­t­ian William Antho­ny Kater­fel­to (known as Gus­tavus Kater­fel­to or Kat­ter­fel­to) was a cel­e­brat­ed Pruss­ian quack who trav­elled around Britain from 1776 until his death in 1799.

He per­formed in Lon­don from 1780 to 1784 and gained fame dur­ing the influen­za epi­dem­ic of 1782, when he exhib­it­ed his solar micro­scope in Pic­cadil­ly and cre­at­ed immense excite­ment by show­ing the infu­so­ria of mud­dy water.

He was a tall man, dressed in a long black gown and square cap, who was accom­pa­nied by a black cat. Such was his noto­ri­ety that ‘Kater­fel­to’ became a gener­ic term name for a char­la­tan.

And Kater­fel­to, with his hair on end,
At his own won­ders, won­der­ing for his bread.

William Cow­per, The Task, ‘The Win­ter Evening’ (1785)

The Quacks: Katerfelto

The picture of Katerfelto above is cropped from The Quacks, an etching published by W Humphrey in 1783, copyright the Wellcome Library, London , made available under the Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 2.0,. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.