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Chicago Tribune, October 14, 1877. “Inoculation” here = infection. Seems weird to me that tattooing should require explanation as “body marking.” Also seems dubious that vermilion ink was the sole fomitic agent here–presumably Mr. the Bum was using the same dirty implements no matter what the pigment. Ick. The standard therapy for syphilis was mercury at this time. It’s not clear whether it had any effect on the disease, which has periods of dormancy and sometimes resolves itself spontaneously. But mercury itself is not specifically too good for the human organism.

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