Selling Sex

Henry Jacob Jordan began his career selling patent medicines claiming to treat venereal disease; although he adopted the title of doctor there is no evidence he ever obtained a medical degree. In 1848 Jordan established the New York Museum of Anatomy, one of a number of anatomical museums in the city, and right down the street from the Anatomical Museum of New York. In later decades Jordan and his son, Louis J., established anatomical museums in Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

The playbills shown here advertise Philadelphia’s Gallery of Anatomy. Having paid their admission, unwitting customers were then shaken down once inside, pressured to get psychic readings, submit to quack medical treatments, and play games of chance.

Left to right:

Jordan & Davieson. Startling Additions at Drs. Jordan & Davieson’s Gallery of Anatomy and Museum of Science and Art. [Philadelphia]: J. Moore, [1872]. (McAllister Collection)

Jordan & Davieson. Grand Anatomical Museum, 807 Chestnut Street. Philadelphia, [1872]. (McAllister Collection)

Jordan & Davieson. Drs. Jordan & Davieson’s Magnificent Anatomical Museum. [Philadelphia]: J. Moore & Sons, [1872]. (McAllister Collection)