I think I’m losing it! I wrote an article about Dr Scholl’s intriguing invention in 2009. Indeed, I have the evidence. I’m also sure that I used that same article for a blog post done much later. But, can I find it? NO!
Recently, I read a post by Bruce Campbell on the Canadian MD forum that reminded me of this item. Bruce had found several examples which leads me to assume that Scholl’s device had sold well in Canada … and then unceremoniously discarded because they were less than satisfactory! First, the original account rescued using optical character recognition … which may account for any grammatical and spelling errors you may find.
Pete, a detectorist living in Thornaby near Stockton-on-Tees, found something that closely resembled yet another tractor part. He told me that all bits of metal like that usually end up in the scrap bin or the bucket marked ‘unidentified’. This item looked so insignificant, he almost slung it in the hedge without a backward glance. I’m pleased he didn’t. No doubt he is too! I am reminded of that good piece of advice given to me when I first started detecting, and that was to never throw anything away.
The Foot Eazer (sic)
Back home, and after cleaning off a hundred years of crud and rust, Pete noticed an inscription saying, Dr. Scholl’s Foot Eazer (sic). You can’t get a better clue to what was uncovered in that Northern field! Mention the name Dr. Scholl and most people think of sensible shoes and remedies for somewhat embarrassing foot ailments. After trudging the fields all day, clambering over rough plough and your feet are killing you, who are you going to call? Dr Scholl, of course, the one-brand solution to the detecting fraternity’s assorted blisters and bumps.
William Mathias Scholl began his career in 1899 working in a small Chicago shoe shop. He became so concerned for customers with painful foot conditions that he enrolled in medical school to study the anatomy and physiology of the foot. In 1904 he qualified as a doctor and launched his first foot-care product – the Foot Eazer, which proved to be a great success!
Scholl was a firm believer in and master of advertising and promotion. He spent a lot of time thinking up attention grabbing stunts such as walking contests across America. One of his earliest advertising slogans was, early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise. The Foot Eazer was guaranteed to relieve fallen arches, strengthen weak insteps, relieve corns, bunions, callouses and ALL foot ailments. That’s a medical breakthrough if ever there was one!
Bruce’s Canadian Examples
Now take a good look at the miraculous invention found by Pete … or Bruce, then imagine sticking it in your wellies. I’m no medical expert, but I reckon that device might just be responsible for some of the ailments it was professing to cure! I can’t help but think Dr Scholl’s life-long mission to improve the health, comfort and wellbeing of people through their feet was probably more mercenary than philanthropic! But, as I showed in my article Snake Oil Surprises (The Searcher, January 2008) the early 1900s was a period rampant with pseudo-medical quackery. I’m not sure the good doctor would get away with such claims today.
There was another inscription on the object – Silveroid, which I understand was an alloy that consisted of 45% nickel, 54% copper and 1% manganese. This metal was fairly hard wearing and could withstand the rigours of everyday use. It was also said to be rust-proof … that claim has proved to be unfounded!
The device found by Pete is certainly a fascinating piece of social history as it was the first ‘arch support’ invented and patented by Dr. Scholl. And how did it get that name? Legend has it that a grateful customer was heard to exclaim, “Say, that’s a real foot–easer!”
So who was Dr. Scholl anyway?
“Born in 1882, young William was one of 13 children. Considering these two facts, I’m going to make some assumptions:
1. He was the recipient of many hand-me-down shoes.
2. Shoes were probably uncomfortable back then.
After working at a shoe store to pay his way through medical school, William became interested in podiatry. He went on to patent a shoe arch support in 1904, and founded the company, Dr. Scholl’s, to sell it. The arch support was a big hit with the public (most likely because shoes were still mighty uncomfortable), and throughout his long career as both a podiatrist and chairman of his company he designed and patented more than 1000 foot aids! Our hats (and shoes!) are off to you, Dr. Scholl, for ensuring that we all have happy feet.
Given these assumptions, I’m led to believe that his desire to increase the life span and comfort of shoes was born out of sheer necessity.” FootwearFan.co.uk