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18th Century Medical and Scientific

Everything to do with medicine, apothecary-physicians, dental, medical and scientific research and instrumentation.

3 - In 1791 George Pearson, a respected doctor and chemist of the time, determined that James's Fever powder was made of a mix of antimony and calcium phosphate. Because antimony is a toxic substance, the powder was deemed a contributing factor to the death of author Oliver Goldsmith in 1774. 4- In addition to single-use packets, the medicine was also one of the first to be distributed in a multidose bottle. © Wellcome Library, London

Dr. James Fever Powder, circa 1746 | The Scientist Magazine®

Dr. James’s fever powder, patented by English physician Robert James, claimed to cure fevers and various other maladies, from gout and scurvy to distemper in cattle. Introduced in 1746, 1 - To safeguard his secret formula for the fever powder, James submitted a fake patent application that didn’t reveal the proper way the powder was created and formulated. 2 - When James died in 1776, his manufacturing and marketing partner John Newbery inherited the patent and continued to sell the powder.

Dr. James Fever Powder, circa 1746 | The Scientist Magazine®

Cyanometer—18thC instrument designed to measure the blueness of the sky invented in 1789 by Swiss physicist Horace-Bénédict de Saussure and German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, who used the circular array of 53 shaded sections in experiments above the skies over Geneva, Chamonix and Mont Blanc. The Cyanometer helped lead to a successful conclusion that the blueness of the sky is a measure of transparency caused by the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere.

Mud baths. Women taking mud baths in the 18th century, watched by James Graham (died 1794), a Scottish medical fraudster. Bathing in mineral water and mud was prescribed for many types of ailments, though the rich and famous also used bathing houses as social centres. Graham's "earth- bathing" was one of a number of medical frauds that he carried out in London. He claimed that bathers could prolong their physical beauty by bathing at his establishment. Graham died insane in Scotland.

William Hunter (1718–1783) 1772, by Johann Zoffany. Scottish-born anatomist, surgeon and midwife became ‘perhaps the best teacher of anatomy that ever lived’. Hunter ran a surgical and midwifery practice in London, investigating the female reproductive system by dissecting animals. He lectured on surgery and anatomy, which became his chief interest. Here Hunter lectures on stage, watched by members of the Academy including Sir Joshua Reynolds (identifiable by his ear-trumpet).

BBC - Your Paintings - William Hunter (1718–1783)

Dr Oliver and Mr Peirce, the First Physician and Surgeon Examining Patients Afflicted with Paralysis, Rheumatism and Leprosy by William Hoare, 1761

John Hunter (1728–1793), Surgeon and Anatomist by Joshua Reynolds (after)

Ancient Chemist shop, Venice via Ca’ Mocenigo: 18th century Interiors, Costumes and the History of Perfume

Porcelain Bleeding bowl, England, 1671-1730.

Bleeding bowl, England, 1671-1730

Nicolas Andry de Bois-Regard (1658–1742) established a solid link between the muscular-skeletal apparatus and physical exercise in his famous text "L'Orthopédie ou L'art De prévenir et de corriger Dans les enfants, Les difformités du corps." [Orthopedics or the art of preventing and correcting deformities of the body in children] 1741. The French physician coined the term "Orthopedie" (orthopaedic/orthopedic).

L'orthopédie, première édition de 1741 par Nicolas Andry

"The higher the heels, the greater will be the distortion [to the foot]...and the higher the heel and the smaller the sole, the greater becomes the risk of falls and sprains."—Professor Petrus Camper (1722-1789) Wrote one of the most remarkable books in orthopedic literature, "On the Best Form of Shoe". Translated immediately and repeatedly into several European languages and considered worthy of reprint as late as 1861. Click image (taken from Camper's book) to see distortion at work.

The Anatomy lesson of the city surgeon Petrus Camper in Amsterdam; with Petrus Camper, Loth Lothz, Pieter Jas, Coenraad Nelson, Nicolaas van der Meulen, Abraham Richard, Johannes Stijger, Gerrit van der Weert (far left the servant Van der Weert), 1758, by Tibout Regters. Note brain on a platter center foreground.

Apothecary Recipe Preparation table, mid-18thC, Engle (Angel) Pharmacy, Mergentheim.

Apothecary jar, Italy, 1730-1750 This apothecary jar is illustrated with scenes of a circumcision and three devils’ heads. Entwined snakes form the handles. The devil’s head at the base appears to be a dispensing hole for the contents of this large jar.

Pair of apothecary storage jars, Naples, Italy, 1756. These earthenware jars are illustrated with scenes from both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

Modern replica of an 18th century fracture box, Colonial Williamsburg. In the 18th century, fractured limbs were set by either a surgeon or a bone-setter, after which they were immobilized with a splint and bandages. In the case of a broken leg where the patient required bed rest, a fracture box like this one would elevate and support the limb.

Wooden anatomical figure with removable parts and container, German, c.1700. Museum No A118272 Wellcome Images

The first written account of the show globe as a specific symbol of pharmacy occurred in 1775 by a German visitor to London, who wrote in a letter: "The street looks as though it were illuminated for some festivity; the apothecaries and druggists display glasses filled with gay-colored spirit . . . [which] suffuse many a wide space with a purple, yellow, or azure light."

Colorful Show Globes of the apothecary were common place in England and its colonies by the eighteenth century. There were published directions on how to prepare the colors to fill these popular globes. For example, a crimson or pink color could be made by dissolving nickel in nitric acid and adding a cobalt in ammonia solution. By 1789, show globes were exported to the United States, as publicized in New York advertisements.

Tortoise shell Etui with six thumb lancets, 1770, England. Eilver, steel, tortoiseshell. The case is studded with tiny sterling silver pins. There are 3 engraved sterling silver studs above the hinge and 3 more below. The top of the lid has a sterling silver cartouche, engraved with the initials ’JEM’. The steel lancet blades are protected by tortoise shell handles. Phisick

Rivet spectacles, 1765-1775, England, tortoise shell surrounds in a fitted shagreen etui. The nose bridge is in silver and the piece dates to circa 1770. Shagreen, silver, horn, glass. Phisick

Bed rest, adjustable, England, c.1720. plaster & wood with padded red velvet supports. Used in a hospital or at home to support a person who had been confined to bed – perhaps for medical reasons. Has 6 different positions & is adjusted using a ratchet, the set of teeth on the edge of the support bars ensures the rest stays in position. The arm supports are also adjustable. Judging from the quality of the materials and design, the rest was used by a wealthy person. Wellcome Images. Ref: A602069

Wellcome Images

Disability from 1660-1832. English Heritage (Photo of The York Retreat) Support for people with disabilities was mostly an individual's Christian and civic duty, not the state's. The parish might give you poor relief, but only if you were destitute as well as disabled. As a disabled person in society, your life was often harsh and brutal, like everyone else's.