You are defective. No matter how well you are formed, no matter how pleasing your countenance or artistic your shape, there is something wrong with you. We can be sure of that because it has been the first premise of advertisements in the backs of magazines since there have been advertisements in the backs of magazines.

The second premise of advertisements in the backs of magazines is that your embarrassing deformities can be corrected, easily and painlessly, by the expenditure of a very reasonable sum of money. These days the money is likely to bring you a pill of some sort, perhaps a homeopathic cure for ugliness made from a 13C dilution of toad. But in the 1920s, the treatments might be much more aggressive, taking their inspiration from the Spanish Inquisition, with the cleverly American twist of making the victims specify and pay for their own tortures.

As he was harvesting illustrations from a 1924 magazine, it occurred to Dr. Boli that these advertisements might make an amusing guessing game. Here is the game: Can you guess what hideous deformity each of these appliances is intended to correct? The answers given by the advertisements themselves will be published in this space tomorrow, but Dr. Boli is certain some of his readers can give better answers than the original advertisers themselves came up with.

No. 1.
No. 2.
No. 3.
No. 4.
No. 5.
No. 6.


  1. Joseph Moore says:

    1. Overbite?
    2. Crooked nose?
    3. Seriously misplaced nose? Or perhaps The unfortunate gentleman pictured has trouble keeping his nose located anywhere on his face.
    4. Correcting the bad attitude of the Achilles tendon and its failure to cooperate with the arch.
    5. Poor bungee jumping form
    6. Gossip. A serious deformity of the soul.

  2. von Hindenburg says:

    Clearly, #1 is a cure for women who talk too much.

  3. tom says:

    don’t know but they may become cool fashion accessories a year or two from now.

  4. Clearly #6 is Sister Bertrille, so the rig must be to keep her from mis-aligning her cornette and accidentally lifting off.

  5. Mrs. Bat says:

    1. No double chin for you
    2. Fix that snub nose
    3. What snoring?
    4. Bring back your fallen arches for an elegant stride
    5. Straighten up, with ease
    6. Firm figure for you

  6. RepubAnon says:

    #1 was a World War 1 invention to prevent disclosure of merchant vessel sailings. It helped prevent loose lips sinking ships.

    #2 and #3 were gullibility protection devices, used to help people avoid being led around by their noses.

    #4 was a useful tool for when people were told to “put a sock in it.”

    #5 was used to help pack more people into subway trains. People wearing it could be hung on racks several people deep.

    #6 was a dieting aid – after a certain number of mouth openings was detected, the straps tightened, preventing further ingestion of food.

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