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Rectal speculum, Paris, France, 1870-1890

Made from gilt brass and steel, this rectal speculum was used to help diagnose diseases of the lower bowel and rectum and could also be employed in related surgical procedures. The highly polished metal surface was intended to allow light to be reflected into the body to help the physician see during an examination. It was made by French manufacturers Collin and Company, who had inherited Joseph-Frédéric Charrière’s renowned surgical instrument making business in 1867.

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Glossary: rectal speculum

Instrument used to dilate the anus or rectum, and throwing light within, thus facilitating examination or surgical operations.