Customers at a quack medicine stall in Bolton’s open market, Thursday 23rd September 1937. A woman passes a leaflet to another. Before the NHS was established working people in Britain would rely on such stalls and shops as visiting a doctor was expensive.
Humphrey Spender was obviously particularly interested in the stall as he took a sequence of eight photographs of it and also wrote an observation which is in the Mass Observation Archive. This is one of only four written observations that we know Spender produced. In it he describes ‘a stoutish woman dressed as a nurse’ who is selling coloured liquids in bottles to enthusiastic customers, and using a stethoscope and pulsometer to diagnose their ailments. He also gives the date of the observation.