Corrigan’s Button by Maw

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Named after the eminent Irish physician Sir Dominic John Corrigan. A round steel iron mounted on a rosewood handle and a lamp with its original wick, signed by Maw, housed in a purple silk and velvet lined fitted leather case.

Corrigan’s main area of interest was the heart and lungs, but he had many irons in the fire (so to speak). See link from the Science Museum Group Collection   Often attributed to cautery this instrument in fact had a different use. The round steel button was heated over a flame and applied to the skin so as to leave superficial circular red burn marks. The intention was not cautery haemostasis, rather the application of a counter irritant. The concept that applying irritation to the skin would distract the inflammation and pain from adjacent or distant disease was first introduced by Baunscheidt in the use of his Lebenswecker. In the case of Corrigan’s button it was widely used “e.g., for rheumatism, lumbago and neuralgia”. Prof J Stones’ paper on his life and achievements gives a brief account of this distinguished physician and a mention of this instrument.

Maw started business in 1807 and became Maw and Son in 1826.

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