Vaccinator Pipette with Rubber Bulb

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A rare 19th century Dutch vaccinator composed of a glass pipette and a rubber bulb secured with silk ligature.

The pipette has a silver mounted hypodermic needle which is fixed and this would have been used on consecutive patients without sterilisation, probably to vaccinate against small pox. The graduated scale in “minims” has been etched by hand. The rubber cap which has long since vulcanised is secured with a green silk ligature over a bulbous reservoir on the pipette. The ensemble is held in a fitted red silk and velvet lined Moroccan leather case.

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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