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SINGULAR Effects OF PRINTING IN GOLD.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE MEDICAL GAZETTE. Sir, Should the accompanying case appear worthy of being recorded, I would beg as a favour its insertion in the Medical Gazette, not being aware that any person as yet noticed this affection, which may perhaps be as novel as its cause, viz., the printing of Golden Sun newspapers!
July 17th, John Oakey, wet. 19, a lad of pale, scrofulous complexion, applied at this institution for relief of a mest distressing itching of the scrotum, and was admitted under the care of Mr. Caswall, whom I have to thank for his kindness in permitting me to supply the notes of this case.
On examining the part, it seemed relaxed and inflamed, the sebaceous follicles considerably enlarged, and round the roots of the hairs were small scabs, caused by his scratching the part, to relieve the tingling sensation. The hair on the scrotum and pubes was of a decided grass-green colour, and though the irritation resembled that produced by the pedículus pubis, I could discover none of these vermin or their ova.
On inquiry, the lad referred these symptoms to his occupation at a newspaper-office, being engaged in printing the Golden Sun paper-so named from its golden type. It appears this hue is communicated by brushing. a fine bronze-coloured powder (composed, according to the workmen's account, of copperas, verdigris, and quicksilver) over the type, which is first printed in yellow ink. This powder is given to those employed in ounce packets, and about 40 hands were thus employed, almost all of whom had been forced after a time to give up this work, some keeping at it only two days; others for a week or more; but all suffering more or less from its effects.
The hair on his head and in the axilla was of the same colour, and he complained of itching in these parts, and about the wrists, though in a degree, and the hair felt peculiarly harsh, dry, and matted.
He stated that on the third day of being thus employed, he had been seized with vomiting of a green-coloured fluid, and a sensation of heat and constriction in the esophagus, with pain in the stomach, which he referred to swallowing and inhaling portions of the powder diffused through the air of the room this was followed by epistaxis, recurring at intervals, itching of the before-mentioned parts, more especially of the pubes and scrotum, tenderness of the epigastrium and bowels, accompanied by loss of appetite and rest. As his bowels were confined, and his stomach irritable, he was ordered,
Pulv. jalapa cum hydrarg. chlorid., 12 grains; stat. sum. mist. effervesc., an ounce and a half; e. mag. sulph., one dram ter in die. ; and to relieve the itching, fetus papaveris, with occasional poultices
His continual scratching, being unable to keep his hand out of his flap for five minutes at a time, had destroyed the character of the eruption so much, as to put it out of my power to state positively what it originally was, but it seemed to have been primarily papular, subsequently assuming a vesicular appearance.
19th. The eruption has decreased,and the irritation is much relieved, but the hair still retains its green hue; the tenderness of the epigastrium and sickness have left him, his tongue is clean, and he sleeps well at night.
Rep. Pulv. et Mist.
26th. He returned quite well, but still with the hair on his pubes, scrotum, and head quite green, though gradually fading away. Ordered to continue his medicine, and return in a week, using in the meantime common pomatum to the hair, to soften it and remove its harsh wiry character.
Unfortunately, like too many dispensary patients, being relieved, he never returned to give up his letter, or obtain a letter of thanks to the party who had recommended him, and thus he deprived me of the opportunity of observing how his hair resumed its natural hue (a sandy colour, it seemed to be), as also of giving the termination of his case.
This case having excited my curiosity, I asked and obtained permission to see the process of printing these papers. They are printed with a yellow ink, composed of size and gamboge, and then handed over to men who, with a common hat-brush, distribute the powder over the paper, which adheres to the moist printed portions. About a dozen persons were thus engaged when I visited the office, all of whom complained more or less of the same symtems. Some added, that this irritating powder had caused deep ulcers on the genitals; others declared it had salivated them to a certain extent; but though their gums appeared slightly spongy, they hardly seemed more so than those of most persons whose stomachs are out of order; and I could not detect any mercurial fœtor.
I wished much to be allowed to have a portion of this powder for chymical examination, but my request could not be granted, as its composition is kept a secret. I was told it was prepared in Germany; it looked like very fine brass filings; the whole air of the room was loaded with it, and my coat glistened, as also did my face and hair, which rivalled in brightness the wig of Caligula, who had recourse to gold-dust to produce the effect I obtained so cheaply.
This case would have been forwarded to you long before this but unfortunately I had mislaid the notes, and have only now found them. I have referred in vain to the works of Thackrah, Ramazzini, and Patissier, as also to the Dictionnaire des Arts-none mention this mode of gilding, or any similiar effects on gilders. Believing it, therefore to be as new, as this new process of "illuminating" newspapers, I have done myself the pleasure of sending you this very imperfect notice of it, and remain, sir, yours, &c. GURNEY TURNEY, M.R.C.S., &c.
General Dispensary. Oct. 24, 1838.
P. S. The illuminated letters in Missals were executed, I believe, either in gold ink, prepared by grinding gold leaf with size, or by laying gold leaf in the letter drawn in size, and then removing the superfluous portions. I fancy I remember having seen a work printed in gold letters, containing an account of the coronation of George IV., but do not know how the effect was produced.-Medical Gazette.