The first “Respirator” by Julius Jeffreys in 1836 was designed to warm inhaled air “thereby enabling the invalid [most likely sufferers of pulmonary TB] to enjoy the benefits of exercise in the open air without injury or inconvenience”.
The models which followed in the later 19th century such as this were intended to protect the wearer both from the noxious Victorian environs and from illness. The Aethereon respirator claimed to be a “preventative of coughs, colds and disease of the lungs in the healthy” as well as a “perfect alleviative to invalids”, although it is unlikely that it would have been any more effective than a simple scarf.
This example is made from black and purple silk sewn with padding around two thin, finely perforated gold plated grids and comes with its original box and instructions. It cost the tidy sum of 8 shillings and a similar silver plated version was available for 5 shillings.
- From the Phisick collection