Clues from Magnetic Health Garments in 1918

I’ve spent a little time searching at recently.

Newspaper advertisements are sometimes boring, sometimes tedious, and occasionally interesting.

In 1918 my uncle was apparently in search of a district manager from Lee County, Illinois.

The job: selling and demonstrating “magnetic health garments.” They apparently cured a variety of things.


The advertisement does provide evidence that Bertus J. Ufkes lived in Valier, Montana, in early 1918. Bertus was living in Montana and Idaho during the pre-World War I time frame and, given the uncommon nature of the name, this pretty much has to be the same guy.  I’m not certain that any of the records I have indicate a Valier residence.

I’m very certain that this is the first reference I have to him involved in this occupation.

I avoided a Google Search for “magnetic health garments.” Some questions are better left unanswered.



4 thoughts on “Clues from Magnetic Health Garments in 1918

  1. Patty Gilbert says:

    Wait until it starts to nag u. Then some night you’ll be half asleep when it suddenly starts poking at u. Ok, I ‘ll look. Or it will just pop open in a book or newspaper article, totally unexpected.

  2. Check out the “As advertised on TV” items now. There are several items that contain magnetic items that are supposed to help with one’s aches and pains. Gloves, socks, back braces, nothing too intimate to be afraid to seek.

  3. Your magnetic undergarments made me think immediately of a family I knew in the mid-1950s. They had a small metal table. When they brought home groceries, they would put them on that table along with a wonderful electric machine, and turn the machine on. I remember the grandmother pointing out to my mother that the only way you knew it was working was by the red light that would be on also. No sounds…movements…bright lights…changes apparent to the groceries. Just that little red light.
    It was supposed to make the groceries “better…healthier…safer…” or some such thing. An hour or so later they machine could be turned off and the groceries put in their cupboards, now safe for consumption. I wonder if your electric undergarments did as much as their table-top machine. It’s interesting the ideas that a good salesman can sell! (Meaning the man who convinced your apparent relative that he should carry such wonderful undies. And/or the women who bought them from him.)

  4. All sorts of “medical” gadgets and medicines have been sold to the public over the years. In the 1800s, many con-men sold a lot of stuff to the unsuspecting public. As the state of the medical art improves, many of the remedies of the past are proven to be worthless. Unfortunately, not all of the newer remedies are worth the price that the pharmaceutical companies charge. The FDA does require at least some proof of effectiveness, so medicines and gadgets approved by the FDA have some value. Magnetic and copper gadgets endorsed by athletes (and Uncle ??) are of value only for the placebo effect.

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