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HMM Newsletter - No. 14, 1998 ISSN 1036-3041

Mystery Items

No prize was awarded for guessing the mystery item in the last issue of the HMM Newsletter, but there are Honourable Mentions for two of our members for trying. Avid Newsletter reader Dr Richard Bailey, of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists, suggested (among other things) a vegetable peeler - an item of domestic technology with which he apparently has some familiarity. Prof. H.F. Atkinson, of the Dental Museum at the University of Melbourne, sent a photograph of a lancet (above) and a dental excavator (below), which have a passing resemblance to the mystery item.

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But we had to go to Anne Mortimer Young, a historian and dealer in medical antiques in England, for the correct identification. Ann faxed us a page of a Wostenholm 1885 catalogue of 'Erasers and desk knives' that included an illustration of an instrument almost identical to our mystery item. Ann writes, 'This convinced me that [instruments like these] were not blood letting tools, but some members of the USA Med. Collectors Soc. continue to argue that they were used for blood-letting. They are often sold as blood-letting knives by the dealers'.

Incidentally, Ann is the author of a beautiful book on antique medical chests, listed in 'Reading matter' in this issue of the HMM Newsletter.

And now for mystery item that is really tricky because the photograph (below) does not reproduce well in our black-and-white newsletter. The velvet-lined leather case (from memory, considerably less than 30 cm long) and its contents were photographed at the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists several years ago. Does anyone (including the curator at RACOG) know what these items are, or what they are part of? A small prize for the best answer.

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Back to HMM Home Page] Published by the Australian Science Archives Project on ASAPWeb, 1 August 1998
Prepared by: Lisa Cianci

Date modified: 10 August 1998
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