This is the final part of the exploration of Dr. Hercules Sanche and what came to be known as the Gas-Pipe Fraud. While not necessary, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if you read the other two parts first. Part 1 Part 2
It’s clear that the various devices sold by Dr. Hercules Sanche and his competitors served absolutely no legitimate medical purpose. Dropping a brass tube into a bucket of ice water will not cause any noteworthy chemical or electrical/magnetic reaction, and there is no evidence whatsoever that the mysterious force dubbed “Diaduction” exists at all. However, it’s much less cut-and-dried when it comes to Dr. Sanche’s personal beliefs on the matter.
It’s entirely possible that Sanche was indeed the fraud he appeared to be on the surface, and that he willfully set about scamming desperate people out of their money. On the other hand, given that he wrote an 800-page book (How Man Lives and is Master of Disease) lauding the benefits of Diaduction, and excoriating the more traditional medical industry for their “narrow-minded” approach to medical treatment, it’s possible (though unlikely) that Sanche actually bought into his own con. The passage shown above is a small excerpt from this tome, and I feel obligated to point out that this is a single 285-word sentence, in which he claims that Diaduction allowed him to remain awake and active for more than four weeks at one point.
The entire book is a rambling rant, with nearly every sentence a self-contained meandering paragraph of text. The convoluted nature of Sanche’s writing holds true in every example, but is perhaps never more obvious than when related to Fraternitas Duxanimæ (the Fraternity of Duxanimæ). This organization was founded and presided over by Sanche himself, and was dedicated to promoting Diaduction and Diaductive instruments, fighting the sale of “counterfeit” devices, and funneling more cash into Sanche’s pockets from membership dues.
The booklet, which sought to define the fraternity’s purpose, opened with a staggering 468-word sentence. You might think that a 468-word, impossibly convoluted run-on sentence would be difficult to comprehend… and you’d be right. Sanche reiterated his claim that he “discovered” a number of “Natural Laws and Principles,” and appears to state that Diaduction is beneficial to plants as well as animals. This is particularly bizarre, given that even if Diaduction was actually real, plants produce oxygen, and forcing them to absorb oxygen would essentially suffocate them.
Diaductive devices were eventually officially ruled fraudulent, and their sale through the postal service (and in some states) was banned. However, Sanche himself never faced any charges despite continuing to sell Oxydonors even into the 1940s. This was in part owing to the fact that he frequently moved his base of operations from state to state, and even to other countries, always managing to stay a step or two ahead of the law.
Sanche also avoided one major pitfall which brought down Dr. N. C. Morse, creator of the copycat Oxygenor King. Morse, in his advertising, made the outrageous claim that his device cured diphtheria—a dangerous and patently untrue statement which ultimately lead to his conviction of fraud charges. Sanche, on the other hand, was always very careful to say that his devices would stimulate the body to heal itself, and this half-step difference allowed him to avoid a fate similar to Morse.
Dr. Sanche’s last known whereabouts saw him operating a company called Hydrotonics out of Riviera, Florida, in 1952. Though wanted in numerous municipalities, he managed to avoid ever having to face prosecution for selling his quack devices. He did, however, lose at least one court case, and I’ll let this article from the July 2, 1898, edition of the Craig Courier tell that story.