Bourguignon Hypodermic Syringe 1860

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A rare French syringe with a rubber bulb instead of a plunger which was used for hypodermic injection. Attributed to Mathieu.

The syringe is composed of a glass pipette with a silver mounted hypodermic needle at one end and a rubber bulb at the other. The rubber cap which has long since vulcanised is secured with a green silk ligature. The graduated scale in minims has been wheel etched and hand engraved. The ensemble is held in a fitted red silk and velvet lined Moroccan leather case. Purchased from the Netherlands and originally thought to be a vaccinator the author now believes this to be a Bourguignon Hypodermic Syringe from France (below) and is not aware of another example.

“A different principle was involved in the Bourguignon (1860) syringe, which was made by Mathieu and was shown to the Academy of Medicine in 1860. This resembled a glass pipette with a needle attached to one end and a rubber bulb to the other, pressure on the bulb delivering the fluid via the needle.”

A Critical Study of the Origins and Early Development of Hypodermic Medication.
Author(s): NORMAN HOWARD-JONES.
Source: Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Spring 1947), pp. 201-249

The minim was both an imperial and US unit of volume ( 1/60 of a fluid dram  or 1/480 of a fluid ounce). It was introduced in the 1809 edition of the pharmacopoeia of the Royal College of Physicians of London as an alternative to the drop, which had previously been the smallest unit of Apothecaries’ measure because the size of a drop can vary with viscosity and specific gravity of the liquid. This type of graduated pipette called a minim-tube was  invented by Francois Antoine Henri Descroizilles in 1791.

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