Pocket Sputum Flask (From the Collection #25)

The Story

Throughout the 1800s, tuberculosis (also called phthisis, consumption, or TB) was a leading cause of death in the industrialised world. Treatments focused on bed rest, a nourishing diet, and fresh air. Canada’s first tuberculosis sanatorium opened in 1897 as a hospital where patients in the early stages of lung disease could rest and recover. These sanatoria also served to isolate chronically infectious patients from society.

Tuberculosis patients were required to carry a pocket flask or cuspidor as an effective means to reduce the spread of the disease. The portable flask was used to collect sputum and when full, burning the contents was considered the safest method of disposal. This particular model is sometimes known as a Blue Henry, being of cobalt blue glass, but other models were of metal or disposable paper.

The Specs

ACCESSION # (Web Link):1969.253.1
Object Name:Pocket Sputum Flask
Manufacturer (Country):Abt. Warmbrunn, Quiltz & Co. (Germany)
Date Made:Circa 1900-1920
MESH Code:Home Health Care
Infection Control
Infectious Diseases
Public Health

Additional Images

About “From the Collection”

“From the Collection” was a project originally published in 2010 to the Museum of Health Care’s website by former Curator Paul Robertson, with the goal being to highlight some the Museum’s most unique items that might be missed in our collection. Each artifact is presented as a bite-sized story, related information, and a link to it’s fully detailed entry on our free online digital catalogue!

Posts in the “From the Collection” series were originally created with support from Funded by the Ontario Museums and Technology Fund. The support of the Government of Ontario, through the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, is acknowledged.

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