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Vaginal speculum, Europe, 1701-1800

A gynaecologist uses a speculum to aid examinations and diagnose genito-urinary diseases. They are also employed in related surgical procedures. The speculum is inserted into the vagina. The screw mechanism is rotated to expand the distance between the blades. This example is thought to be French. It dates from the 1700s. Variations of this gynaecological instrument are still used. The speculum came from the private collection of Dr Noel Hamonic. It was sold by Hamonic’s sons in two parts to Henry Wellcome. The first was in June 1928 for £4,400. The second was a month later for £803. The collection consisted mostly of surgical instruments and pharmacy ware.

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Glossary: vaginal speculum

Instrument for dilating the vagina, and throwing light within thus facilitating examination or surgical operations

Glossary: obstetrics

A branch of medicine dealing with the care of women. This care occurs during pregnancy, childbirth, and the period of recovery from childbirth.

Glossary: gynaecology

A branch of medicine dealing with the treatment of disorders affecting the female reproductive system.