The talented Otto Overbeck

The rejuvenator at Overbeck's, Sharpitor, Devon where the scientist Otto Overbeck lived from 1928 until 1937

Although born in England, Otto Christoph Joseph Gerhardt Ludwig Overbeck was descended from a distinguished Dutch family. His parents were of mixed nationality; his father, Joseph, was Dutch and Italian, his mother Prussian and French. Perhaps this cosmopolitan background accounted for his varied interests. A research chemist by profession, he was also an accomplished linguist, artist and inventor.


The start of something special

Otto studied at Bonn University in Germany, where he excelled in chemistry and science. Whilst working at a brewery in Grimsby, he discovered that a waste product of brewing was infact a nutritious food - he called it carnos (Greek for meat). A company was formed, which unfortunately didn't last long. The patent he took out on this product was allowed to expire and almost immediately a very similar product appeared on the market under the name ‘Marmite’. He is also credited with inventing the process to de-alcoholise beer, but unfortunately a large tax levy was placed on the product and it never reached the market.

Otto's commercial success

Otto’s most economically successful invention was the ‘electrical rejuvenator’ that he patented in the 1920s, and which he claimed could defy the ageing process if users applied the electrodes from his device to their skin. He produced various pamphlets and published two books on his ‘electrical theory of life’ and successfully marketed the rejuvenator worldwide. The success of the product allowed him to purchase the property in Salcombe and it is thanks to him that the National Trust has this special place for everyone to enjoy.