October’s “issue” of stand alone will take the series into a new format: the t-shirt. It will, however, maintain a tradition of obscurity. From today until September 21st, we will be taking pre-orders for a silk-screened limited edition shirt. We’ve designed a shirt for a nutty health journal published by Dr. John H. Tilden (1851-1940), titled A Stuffed Club, published from 1900 to 1915 (when the title was changed to The Philosophy of Health).
You can pre-order now: https://www.underworldamusements.com/product/sa1088
During the research for the Underworld Amusements edition of The Gospel According to Malfew Seklew, Trevor Blake and I noticed an advertisement: “DO YOU KNOW WHAT A STUFFED CLUB IS“. No question mark, and wall of text endorsements including one from our man Malfew Seklew. I thought it was interesting enough to follow up on later, but low priority. The journal was part of the Little Journeys series published by Elbert Hubbard.
The journal stated “In these pages the reader will find medical advice on everything from dropsy to tuberculosis. This Club aims to train people into such good health they will be normal.” Tilden was a skeptic of pharmaceuticals and believed people would be healthy by lifestyle changes and “eliminating toxins.” All modern medical associations rank him as a “medical quack” and a “food crank”.
If you’ve read The Gospel According to Malfew Seklew you will know that the Sirfessor definitely had his own ideas about how to live and eat for health. That, or he knew he had to fill up more pages than what he had to make a decent booklet to sell from a soap box! Since his book came out well after he was praising the work of Tilden, it is not a stretch to say that Tilden probably had some influence on the Sirfessor’s magnum opus.
The club in the illustration of the journals title appears to represent Hercules’ club (though a stuffed one). Hercules club was worn as an amulet 1,800+ years ago. Roman era Hercules’s Clubs appear from the 2nd to 3rd century, spread over the empire (including Roman Britain), mostly made of gold, shaped like wooden clubs. Tacitus mentions a special affinity of the Germans for Hercules, stating
they say that Hercules, too, once visited them; and when going into battle, they sing of him first of all heroes.
During the Viking period, Hercules Club pendents were replaced by Thor’s Hammers, which were eventually replaced by Christian Crosses.
But what is a “stuffed club”? Would you believe Dr. Tilden explains it very clearly in the back of a book titled The Etiology of Cholera Infantum: With the Hygienic and Dietetic Treatment (1909)?
Many find fault with the name, and it is not strange that they do, for it is meaningless until understood. The name, “A Stuffed Club,” within itself carries no suggestion. …No one besides myself can see exactly how “A Stuffed Club” fits every article that has ever been published in it…
Of all the colloquialisms or slang phrases that have ever come to my notice, nothing has carried such a clever, insinuating suggestiveness as “A Stuffed Club” and the meaning ascribed to it.
The expression was very popular in my boyhood, and was used in the following sense: If some one should act in a foolish manner, do something that was not in keeping with his usual custom, it would be said, “Someone should take a stuffed club to him,” or, “The fool! He should have known better; someone ought to take a stuffed club to him.”
When people failed to use good judgment — held to erroneous opinions — practiced fanaticism — allowed others to think for them — refused to progress — were inveigled into schemes and impossible dreams and were separated from their money — in fact, when unwise in any way, it was said of them, “They need a stuffed club— someone should take pity and use a stuffed club on them — a stuffed club would help the fools a little.”
A wink and the mention of a stuffed club was usually indicative of a foolish act or some form of incorrigibility on the part of the one referred to. Where people were especially dense or stupid it was necessary to take a stuffed club to them for the purpose of beating a little sense into them; if they needed correction they were said to be in need of a stuffed club.
Indeed, a “stuffed club” used to be a phrase people used, and no longer do. It is a club meant to startle and “WAKE UP!” its victim, rather than to do lasting harm. And regardless of how right or wrong or quirky Dr. Tilden’s opinions on medicine and health may have been, I really like his definition of a stuffed club. Where this knotted cudgel jumped from a signal of allegiance to a god, to a colloquialism, I do not know.
In the course of research, I obtained some letters and had no idea that it contained:
A 1902 letter on A Stuffed Club letterhead.
From Georgia Replogle, co-editor of the journal Egoism!!! The Egoism journal is most notable for first serializing Walker’s The Philosophy of Egoism book, but it also contained writings from and about the anarchist and individualist discussion of the day. Walker’s book would later be reprinted as a single volume in 1905. It is in Egoism: The First Two Volumes 1890-1892 where I wrote the only known biographical sketch of Georgia and Henry Replogle.
I have absolutely no idea how long Georgia was associated with Tilden and his publication, or if there are more egoist connections, but that locked it in. It became a “must make” egoist object and the first Stand Alone t-shirt.
And so here it is! The front is just the logo, rendered with a white background to help it pop on the shirt a bit, and on the back I have reset some of the endorsements (including one by Elbert Hubbard‘s wife Alice!), and putting it on a super-soft gold t-shirt. Gold just seemed like the right color. I can’t wait to wear mine to the gym!
You can pre-order now to make sure you get your size: https://www.underworldamusements.com/product/sa1088
(only a small number of over-run shirts will be produced to sell after the pre-order.