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Zenith X-ray tube and shield, England, 1901-1913

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Ringworm in schoolchildren was treated using this X-ray tube. It was made by A. E. Dean and Company in the early 1900s. Ringworm was a common complaint in the overcrowded cities. The tube was used by Lord Haden-Guest (1877-1960) at a clinic in Blackfriars, London. Haden-Guest later became a Labour MP. He had a lifelong interest in the medical welfare of children in Britain and abroad. He also served in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) during the Boer War and both World Wars. His grandson Christopher is the current 5th Baron Haden-Guest. Christopher Guest is best known for playing hapless lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel in the spoof rock band Spinal Tap. The tube and shield are made of lead glass. This gave some protection from the X-rays. X-rays were discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (1845-1923). The first committee to investigate the possible ill effects of X-rays was formed three years later in 1898. Reports of burns and dermatitis due to the rays were frequent by this date. Manufacturers offered protective containers for X-ray tubes from the early 1900s.

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    Techniques and Technologies:


    Glossary: x-ray tube

    The part of an X-ray machine that produces X-rays. The tube itself operates under vacuum conditions.

    Glossary: x-rays

    A wave of electromagnetic radiation that has high energy and short wavelength. It is able to pass through many materials, except those of high density such as metals or bones. Discovered in 1895 by William Roentgen.

    Glossary: ringworm

    An infection of the skin. Ringworm causes a reddish blemish with a light centre that resembles a 'ring'