Von Graefe’s Cataract Knife (From the Collection #32)

The Story Cataracts are an opacity of the eye’s crystalline lens, found behind the pupil. This opacity stops rays of light from reaching the retina, causing blindness. The first recorded cataract surgeries occurred as early as 600 BCE. Couching, a process in which the cataractous crystalline lens is displaced inside the vitreous cavity of the … More Von Graefe’s Cataract Knife (From the Collection #32)

Urinometer (From the Collection #34)

The Story For several thousand years urine was a, if not the, primary body fluid used in medical diagnoses. Physicians relied on their senses to assess patients’ urine and identify their ailments. Most commonly they studied its colour, smell, and amount of sedimentation. Taste could also be employed, but was used less frequently. Uroscopy began … More Urinometer (From the Collection #34)

Fox’s Toothkey (From the Collection #33)

The Story Before antibiotics and modern dental care, dentists had little choice but to remove a patient’s diseased tooth.  The toothkey was developed in the early 18th century for tooth extraction.  It consisted of a straight metal shaft with a handle of wood, bone, or ivory set at right angles to the instrument. The working … More Fox’s Toothkey (From the Collection #33)

The Young Husband (From the Collection #31)

The Story Advice manuals as a distinct form of literature began appearing as early as the 17th century. William A. Alcott (1798-1859) was a prolific 19th-century advice writer and proponent of vegetarianism with a keen interest in civil, social, moral, and religious reform. He wrote numerous manuals and guides addressing marital, domestic, cultural, financial, and health and … More The Young Husband (From the Collection #31)

Sucking Glass (From the Collection #28)

The Story For centuries, mothers have used a number of tools to relieve the pain of engorged breasts, correct inverted nipples, and increase milk production. Some of the first breast pumps were found at Greek archeological sites dating from the 6th to 5th centuries BCE. These dual purpose feeding bottles and breast pumps, called guttus, … More Sucking Glass (From the Collection #28)

Female Urinal (From the Collection #27)

The Story Found in homes and hospitals, bedpans and urinals are practical aids for bedridden persons who cannot get up to use a toilet.  Over time ‘male’ and ‘female’ designs evolved that increased a patient’s comfort and ease of use.  Until the mid-twentieth century, student nurses training in hospitals had the necessary, but unpleasant job … More Female Urinal (From the Collection #27)

Carbolic Steam Sprayer (From the Collection #24)

The Story Lord Joseph Lister revolutionized surgery in the late 19th century by introducing antiseptic methods. These drastically reduced the incidence of infection and death, enabling the field of surgery to expand rapidly. In the 1860s, mortality rates for surgeries were at 45-50% due to infection. Rates of infection were especially high in trauma cases, … More Carbolic Steam Sprayer (From the Collection #24)