A Prussian showman

Who was Gustavus Katterfelto?


In 1782, a series of advertisements appeared in many London newspapers, all headed, “Wonders! Wonders! Wonders!” They were the work of an itinerant Prussian showman who called himself Gustavus Katterfelto. Katterfelto claimed that he knew why a flu epidemic had just struck the city. It was all the fault of the little “insects” that his patented “solar microscope” revealed swimming around in a drop of water.

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In believing that disease could be caused by microscopic living organisms, Katterfelto was ahead of his time but his credibility was not helped by his other claims. He also stated, for example, that he had solved the problem of perpetual motion. No reputable scientist accepted his ideas and he was dismissed as a charlatan and a quack

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Answered by: Nick Rennison