An early to mid 19th C unmarked example of Dr Mudge’s pewter inhaler of 1778 (see links below). It was used for the inhalation of vapours in the treatment of “catarrhous cough”, using opium and aromatic leaves infused into hot water.
Suction applied to the spout via a flexible tube would draw air through the holes in the hollow handle and through a single hole at it’s base (see pictures) which would bubble through the infusion. Covering some or all of the holes in the handle would decrease the amount of air drawn through and vary the strength of the opium laden vapours. A cork ball held within the small compartment in the lid would act as a ballcock (with thanks to Alex Peck for this information), allowing the patient to exhale but preventing the influx of air during inspiration.
- From the Phisick collection