An exceptionally rare hypodermic syringe by the renowned Daniel Ferguson of 21 Giltspur Street, London; Surgeon’s Instrument Maker to Saint Bartholomew’s Hospital.
This rare syringe is composed of glass and silver, with wheel-etched graduation markings in the measurement of minums. Two needles accompany the set, attached by screw and securely fastened against the leather gasket at the distal end of the syringe. The compendium is complete with two cut crystal vials. The first is labeled, “Hypodermic sol: Morph: 1 grain in 6 minums, poison.” The second is labeled, “Sol. Sulph: Atropia, 1 grain in 2 drams.” Both vials are marked, “John Bell & Co., 338, Oxford Street.”
This syringe being an improvement after years of refinement from its cruder predecessor, Ferguson is famed for the construction of the first hypodermic syringe for the purpose of narcotic injection in the treatment of neuralgia for Scottish physician Alexander Wood in 1855. Wood proposed that the opiate injection be made at the “seat of pain,” applied “directly to the affected nerve” (Wood, 1855, p. 21).
“One day I happened to be using the ingenious instrument constructed by Mr. Ferguson of Giltspur Street, for the purpose of introducing the preparation (iron perchloride) into a naevus on the head of a child, when it occurred to me that this was the very instrument I had been so long looking for, and the very thing for introducing narcotic injections in cases of neuralgia (Wood, 1858, p. 722).”
Wood, A. (1855). On a new method of treating neuralgia by the direct application of opiates to the painful points (Doctoral dissertation, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, 1855) (p. 21). Edinburgh: MacLachlan and Stewart.
Wood, A. (1858, August 28). Treatment of Neuralgic Pains by Narcotic Injections. The British Medical Journal, 2(28), 721-723.
- From the Lusignan syringe collection