Bernard Bernard’s Height Increaser For Short People

"The patient lifted himself by the chin which was cradled in a sling attached to ropes looped to an overhead beam."

In 1937, the American Medical Association warned the public that this device, despite being widely advertised, didn't actually work.

The Muncie Star Press - Apr 9, 1937

Update: The inventor of this device was a man named Bernard Bernard who was, himself, only 5 feet 1 inch tall. Details from Hygeia (May 1936):

Another scheme exhibited at the World's Fair was the "Height-Increaser," consisting of a self hanging apparatus with a place for the head and with handles to be gripped with the hands. Fixed to an overhead beam, it was guaranteed to add inches to the growth. The promoter, Bernard Bernard, wrote touching advertisements berating the life of a small man and pointing out that his height-increaser was the road to being a "he-man." He admitted that the apparatus cost him 75 cents, but he sold 3,000 of them for $8.75 each. Bernard, who is only 5 feet, 1 inch tall, explained he had never had the time to increase his own height through his device, although he was then 38 years old.

LA Times - July 31, 1932

LA Times - May 1, 1930

     First Posted: May 2017
     Reposted By: Alex - Sat Jul 02, 2022
     Category: Inventions | Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil | 1930s

A similar device appeared on the Andy Griffith show.
Posted by Rick S on 05/11/17 at 11:56 AM
When I worked in Minneapolis / St. Paul I made a visit to the Museum Of Questionable Medical Devices and had a wonderful time. I don't know if it still exists but the place was packed with Orgone generators, light therapy boxes and rectal heating therapy devices.
Posted by KDPworkeed in Minneapolis on 05/11/17 at 12:03 PM
I was actually provided with a device that looks like the one shown in the Andy Griffith link. It was for a pinched nerve. The traction was provided by a bag filled with water to a specific weight/amount. Worked.
Posted by Steve E. on 05/11/17 at 01:35 PM
After finding out about the benefit of neck traction in physical therapy, I made one like in the Andy Griffith link to use at home. It's rigged to two pulleys and a 5-gal bucket with weights. Added 10 # for my head, since I was horizontal in PT. It works great to relieve my neck soreness. But for height increasing, you probably need a complete old rack with Igor cranking the wheel for days.
Posted by Virtual on 05/11/17 at 07:18 PM
Long ago, I ran across the info that traction/compression to permanently alter body shape has to be done at a specific time of life (skulls from birth to 3y.o., legs from 5y.o. to 12y.o., etc.). The info was a compilation of practices around the world throughout history. Fascinating, but a bit macabre.
Posted by Phideaux on 05/11/17 at 07:56 PM
If you really want to increase your height you can have your legs broken and stretched while they heat.
Posted by BMN on 05/13/17 at 06:37 PM
This reminded me of those photos of Ndebele women with elongated necks.
Posted by Fritz on 07/02/22 at 07:01 AM
$24,000 profit, had to pay $1,000 fine. Typical.
Posted by Phideaux on 07/02/22 at 11:00 AM
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