HE Kugelmann A 19th century Herbalist.

This is one of the fascinating unusual items we’ve been preparing for our latest list:

Kugleman's soap
Kugleman’s soap

Kugleman's soap

Kugelmann, Mr. H.E., Consulting Herbal Practitioner

Instructions on Diet, Exercise, Bathing, Sleeping, Etc., Including Hygienic Recipes ‘Pocket Guide’ on Cover. (Melbourne and Adelaide: Australian Head Office, Consulting Chambers and Warehouse 311 and 312 Flinders Street, Melbourne, Vic., and Torrens Chambers, Victoria Square, Adelaide: no date) Pencilled date of 29.8.79 on rear fixed endpaper. Not in Ford, who notes that the Author appears in Bruck’s ‘List of Unregistered Med. Practitoners’ (1886). Decorated boards pp. 80 (140 x 90 mm). On the title page H.E. Kugelmann describes himself as ‘Inventor of the Standard Herbal Magnetic Remedies’. On p. 80 the book shows that he gave consultations on a two-monthly basis in Adelaide and South Australian Country Towns as well as in NSW, and every sixteen weeks at Brisbane and Toowoomba, Queensland. A subject of fierce attack from the Medical Establishment.

Looking around the web, I found this page which gives more of the story of this 19th century medicinal man and his family.

An ad from the Sydney Mail of February 6, 1897, as well as providing a detailed testimonial from Mr WT Franks, whose wife was saved by Kugelmann’s treatment proudly states that Kugelmann possesses the power to tell his Patients what is the matter with them without being informed of the nature of the Disease.

Maybe it isn’t so surprising, then, that the business is still going and there is a short page on its history here too. it is the source of the pictures on this post.

I especially like this ad from a 1901 Brisbane newspaper:

“Mr. H.E.Kugelmann, of 15 Bridge Street, Sydney, and 14-16 Queen Street, Melbourne, and who has visited Brisbane regularly for nine years, wishes to intimate that owing to his Practice increasing so largely, and to insufficient accommodation at Gresham Hotel, his Brisbane consultations will next week, and in future, be conducted at The Commonwealth Buildings, Adelaide Street, corner Albert Street, Brisbane. Consultations free on all Chronic and supposed to be Incurable Diseases next week …. and about every sixteenth week thereafter. Also at the following Provincial Towns on dates named, and thereafter at regular intervals, as usual, of about sixteen weeks…”

It was headed “DON’T DIE!”

My sentiments exactly, Mr Kugelmann….

One can only suppose that a man of his profession and ambition must have lived an interesting – and perhaps even precarious – life? Prior to WWI he acquired a Murray river property that had been Dame Nelli Melba’s, leading to the following WWI story:

The Kugelmann case was bizarre from beginning to end. South Australian born, Kugelmann had moved to Melbourne where his professional life first attracted attention. He was a famous herbalist: after all, what concoctions could a herbalist produce to poison Melbourne’s water supply? In 1912, Kugelmann had purchased the Gooramadda estate on the banks of the Murray River. The previous owner had been content to let neighbours hunt on the estate or cross it to swim in the Murray River, but not Kugelmann. Perhaps he wished to protect the irrigation plant he built after buying the estate: perhaps he lacked the broad tolerance of the estate’s previous owner when it came to the recreational pursuits of his neighbours. With the outbreak of war, however, Kugelmann’s anti-social nature and the power plant meant only one thing — disloyalty. The plant was being used to send wireless signals to submarines lurking off the Australian coast: the estate was being used to store arms for the Germans at Walla Walla (‘many mysterious heavy cases’ had been delivered to the estate); and it housed a field gun to be used for shelling the railway line. No less than four official complaints were made, one by an area militia officer, the other three by a neighbour, F W D Kelly. The police investigated the charges and Intelligence even sent one of their own in 1918. They found nothing beyond an irrigation plant doing what it was supposed to do and an employee, a German national, who became decidedly ‘antibritish’ when he had had a few too many. The investigating officer reported, Kugelmann ‘apparently does not bear the reputation of being disloyal in this district’. He added almost wistfully, ‘but at the same time there is a good deal of suspicion’.15 If the defence department had been relying on the local police and Kelly to intern the herbalist they were sorely disappointed. German Australians in Rural Society 1914-1918 John McQuilton

Not to mention the odd law suit. The infamous rag ‘The Truth’ took a stab at discrediting him which resulted in a highly publicised libel suit by Kugelmann against John Norton and the paper. You can see many references to it and other Kuglemann stories by going to the NLA’s online newspaper site here. The last report I found saw the jury dismissed after failing to come to agreement. One can observe that the case seems to have done neither The Truth nor Kugelmann any damage. Any advertising…as they say.


One thought on “HE Kugelmann A 19th century Herbalist.

  1. What a great story! And I am impressed that they didn’t convict him. Well done, Australian justice system!

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