The Enema Button – the ultimate c18th fashion accessory?

With my apologies for a foray into something entirely, disgustingly unromantic, I just wanted to share a little something that I came across in my researches this evening. Made in Germany at some point between 1701 and 1900, these metal buttons rather imaginatively depict two stages of the enema treatment:

a) Physican applying said treatment to a fairly distressed-looking patient by means of (quite frankly, massive) syringe

b) Physician observing effects of said treatment as disconsolate patient sits on chamber pot

Fashion accessory of an eccentric? Advertising gimmick for an enema specialist? Horribly misguided love token? If anyone can explain why on earth some Georgian gent might have wanted to wear these buttons I’d love to hear…

L0057290 Two metal buttons showing an enema treatment, Germany, 1701-



Source: The Wellcome Collection


11 thoughts on “The Enema Button – the ultimate c18th fashion accessory?

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  1. An enema button! Just the thing for a well-dressed 18th century rake to wear on a date to impress the ladies! Thanks for sharing, Emily! 🙂

  2. Why on earth would anyone want to advertise the fact that they have or had any disease? Not just enema.besides i thought the 16th & 17th century people were easily shocked. Wouldn’t something like this have been indelicate?>

  3. These buttons are identified in “The Big Book of Buttons”(Hughes/ Lester) on pg 387 in the Theatre section (#16 17). They are described as” THE DOCTOR AND PANTALON. An amusing pair of French gentleman’s cuff studs, with two scenes from the Commedia dell’Arte; the doctor administering an enema to Pantalon on one, with the inevitable result shown on the other.”

  4. An advert for “Fleet” enemas features the collection of Dr Irwin Berman. Included is an elegant pair of eenema buttons in ivory and set in gold. He states that they were used in mockery of King Louis 14th and his addiction to enemata. By whom, at what risk??

  5. Actually these are THEATRE buttons. Were sold as souvenirs at plays. – pre cursor to pin badges. This was from a play which lampooned the french kings penchant for enemas – Moliere’s The Imaginary Invalid.

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