Portable anaesthetic kit, German, 1914-1918.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This portable anaesthetic kit consists of a chloroform bottle, chloroform dropping bottle and Schimmelbusch mask in a bag. It was made in Germany for use during the First World War (1914-1918). The mask has a metal frame, which fits around the face, and is covered in cotton material. The chloroform was dropped from the dropping bottle, which has a graduated scale, onto the cotton material of the mask. It would then evaporate and the patient would breathe in the gas. Chloroform was first used by James Simpson (1811-1870) of Edinburgh, to ease the pain of childbirth. His success led to a preference for chloroform as an anaesthetic rather than ether, which was unpredictable and had unpleasant side effects.