That Wonder Worker
As Bloom wanders from the Ormond, cidery gases wending their way through his internal plumbing, he thinks “Wish I could. Wait. That wonderworker if I had” (11.1224-5).
In ‘Ithaca’ (17.1819-23) we learn that he has received a:
Molly later recalls the prospectus (18.715-16):
Wonder Worker is listed in the London Gazette, 4 May 1928 as available from “Frederick Adolph Werner; Patent Medical Appliance; Coventry House, South Place, London, E.C. 2.”
It was also available as far afield as New Zealand, according to this advertisement in the NZ Truth, 10 March 1923, p. 2.
This device was apparently quite popular in days gone by, judging from a description provided by Roland McHugh from Norman Lewis's autobiography Jackdaw Cake:
The earliest description of Wonder Worker that I have been able to locate is the July 1917 patent application, GB114378, approved April 1918:
The patent application continues with more detailed description, suggesting that the invention be made of “celluloid, vulcanite, casein or other non-conducting material, but suitable metals may advantageously employed particularly such as have curative or alleviative properties, as zinc for example”. It concludes with an illustration:
Click here to see the full patent
In a later patent, 1924-5, GB233980, Werner describes himself as “a citizen of the United States of America”. His improved version “consists in dispensing with the lengthwise bore […] and shaping the several parts of such an appliance that its dimensions correspond, or approximately correspond, and comfortably adapt themselves to the anatomical dimensions of the affected parts of the human body”.
Bloom’s wishing for the Wonder Worker is, then, another anachronistic Bloomsday detail. The device was not patented until 1917 and the ad for Wonder Worker was copied into the "Ithaca" notesheets (12.10-23) between February and October 1921 in Paris. The line in "Sirens" is based on the "Ithaca" note and follows as a typescript overlay from the same year.
For further information on the Wonderworker see Ronan Crowley's article "That English invention: The Wonder Worker in nighttown" on this web site.