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.