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Catalogue advertising William Moody Bell, manufacturer of medical equipment, England, 1842-1900

William Moody Bell was ‘surgeon mechanist’ based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. This meant that he provided made-to-measure artificial limbs and other mechanical appliances for patients in hospitals. He sold a wide range of items including syringes, trusses, a number of different types of bandages, electrotherapy machines, and hearing trumpets. He also offered a service adapting trusses used for hernias, for people of all ages. Bell also provided bandages for prolapse of the uterus. As women may have been uncomfortable discussing such a condition with a man, Bell’s female customers were attended to by his wife. Interestingly, Bell states that his items are “equal to any house in London”. During the 1800s, London set the standard in England for medical and surgical appliances.

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    Glossary: bandage

    A strip of material such as gauze used to protect, immobilize, compress, or support a wound or injured body part

    Glossary: trade

    Refers to the willing exchange of goods. Also defined as the activity of buying, selling, or bartering commodities.

    Glossary: electrotherapy machine

    machine used to deliver therapeutic electric shocks to patients

    Glossary: catalogue

    Enumerations of items, usually arranged systematically, with descriptive details; may be in book or pamphlet form, on cards

    Glossary: prolapse

    The falling down or sinking, of a part. To fall out of place.

    Glossary: syringe

    An instrument used for injecting or withdrawing fluids. The open end of the syringe may be fitted with a hypodermic needle for injection into the bloodstream.

    Glossary: truss

    A bandage or apparatus used by hernia patients to support the affected parts and hold them in the correct position.

    Glossary: uterus

    The hollow reproductive organ in female mammals. The uterus is where the foetus develops after conception. The word 'womb' is often used among non-medical people to refer to the same area.

    Glossary: hernia

    A small amount of an organ or tissue bulging through an abnormal opening in the skin.