Portable anaesthetic kit, 1914-1918.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 26cm x 32cm

Portable anaesthetic kit, 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 in World War I (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 succes led to chloroform becoming preferred to ether, which was unpredictable with unpleasant side effects, as an anaesthetic.

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