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Materials and Expertise in Early Modern EuropeBetween Market and Laboratory$
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Ursula Klein Klein and E. C. Spary

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780226439686

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226439709.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 15 October 2021

The Sparkling Nectar of Spas; or, Mineral Water as a Medically Commodifiable Material in the Province, 1770–1805

The Sparkling Nectar of Spas; or, Mineral Water as a Medically Commodifiable Material in the Province, 1770–1805

Chapter:
(p.198) 8 The Sparkling Nectar of Spas; or, Mineral Water as a Medically Commodifiable Material in the Province, 1770–1805
Source:
Materials and Expertise in Early Modern Europe
Author(s):

Matthew D. Eddy

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226439709.003.0008

From the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, spas across Europe offered mineral water to customers as a kind of therapy. Numerous studies have shed light on the links between tourism and commodification, the role of patient authority, and the isolation of chemical substances, but there has been no clear account to explain how the chemical composition of the wells connected with the medical theory that legitimated their commodification and use as a remedy. Using Peterhead Spa in Scotland as a case study, this article examines the therapeutic theories that motivated provincial experts to commodify mineral water at the dawn of the nineteenth century. In particular, it focuses on several authors who wrote about the well, including Rev. Dr. William Laing, an ordained Episcopal priest who argued that mineral water from Peterhead could be used to cure nervous disorders. The article shows that chemical language and experiments played an important role in late-eighteenth-century pamphlets and articles (both popular and academic) that addressed the curative power of mineral water.

Keywords:   spas, mineral water, tourism, commodification, Peterhead Spa, Scotland, William Laing, nervous disorders, therapy, chemical composition

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