Monday, October 08, 2007

Donation with a caprine connection

We received a donation in the mail all the way from the opposite coast, and still the chain of serendipity did not break: it tied right in with something I was just working on locally--and not even in a six-degrees-of-separation sort of a way, either.

Daniel King has donated a nearly mint condition Clay-Adams dissection kit (King's research places its manufacture ca. 1920s-1930s) to our Medical Museum Collection. Noting that the ca. 1949 Clay-Adams set in our holdings was listed as incomplete, King offered us his father's kit in honor of the elder King's work in the health food industry. Along with the instruments, King included a copy of a 1934 brochure entitled "The Adventures of a remarkable food." It begins:
Goat milk products would still be in obscurity if it were not for the inquisitive mind of Mr. King. The story of how Mr. King was able to improve the health and reproductive capacity of his fur bearing animals and later transfer his experiences in the rearing of a family, is an interesting an valuable lesson for all health seekers.
The fur-bearing animals in question were mink and fitch (polecats, for those of you out there who, like me, had never heard of fitch) whose numbers swelled so dramatically on the King diet of "foods containing a high mineral content ... [and] Viosal, a mineral concentrate derived from goat milk" that the Kings started the Sky Meadow Fur Ranch in Norwalk, CT. After receiving "local and national attention" for the experimental results he had achieved, "Mr. King obtained the active cooperation of farmers and goat breeders and organized the King's Goat Milk Laboratories for the purpose of standardizing and testing goat milk and its products." A list of available goat milk products, with prices, is included on the back of the pamphlet.

What could this possibly have to do with anything I might already be working on? Goats! In the 1960s, Dr. James Metcalfe conducted an enormous amount of cardiovascular research involving goats. I'm finally getting around to the last few boxes of photographs donated by University News & Publications earlier this year, and one of the folders was labeled "Animals." Sure enough, Metcalfe's goats were included. Apparently, the research involved keeping them--and the research staffers--happy!

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