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Clover-type portable ether inhaler, England, 1877-1910

Joseph Thomas Clover (1825-1882) first described his inhaler in 1877. It was the earliest inhaler designed to regulate the dose of an anaesthetic, in this case ether. About 30 ml of liquid ether would have been placed in the nickel-plate reservoir, with a rotating water jacket surrounding the ether to prevent it getting too cold. The patient then breathed in the vapours through a face mask connected by rubber tubing. Inhalers of this type were still in use during the Second World War.

Object number:

A608281 Pt1

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    Glossary: anaesthetic

    An agent that causes insensitivity to pain. Applied to either the whole body (general anaesthetic) or a particular area or region (local anaesthetic).

    Glossary: inhaler

    A device for breathing in a drug in order to deliver it to the airways or lungs.

    Glossary: ether

    A volatile liquid (resulting from the action of sulphuric acid upon alcohol) formerly used as an anaesthetic. Ether was usually inhaled.