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Artificial left leg, Europe, 1901-1940

This artificial left leg was made for someone who had their leg amputated above the knee. It is made from willow and leather. It follows the basic design established by the so-called Anglesey leg. This was named after the Marquis of Anglesey. He wore a leg made to this design after he lost one during the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Earlier versions were also called ‘Clapper’ legs after the sound the leg made when fully extended. Wooden prosthetic legs were heavy. They were replaced by lighter, metal versions after design innovations following the First World War. 41,000 British servicemen lost one or more limbs during the conflict. However, the Anglesey limb remained popular well into the 20th century. It was relatively lightweight and capable of a natural-looking walking movement.

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Glossary: amputation

Removal of part of, or a whole limb by surgery. Used to control pain or the spread of disease in the affected limb.

Glossary: prostheses

Artificial body parts, or materials inserted into tissue for functional, cosmetic, or therapeutic effect. Prostheses can be functional (artificial arms and legs), or cosmetic (artificial eye).

Glossary: artificial leg

A device, either external or implanted, that substitutes for or supplements a missing or defective part of the body.