2 lancets with steel blades in wooden case


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2 lancets, steel blades, in wooden case, presented to Edward Jenner by Rev. Thomas Pruen of Divesley, Gloucestershire, c. 1800

Edward Jenner, the pioneer of vaccination, used lancets like these to vaccinate people against smallpox. Jenner did this by inserting pus gathered from a cowpox sore on one person into the skin on the arm of another person. Small cuts would be made into the skin using the sharp blade of the lancet, before cowpox pus was introduced into the cut. In most cases this protected them against smallpox, a similar but more dangerous disease. Jenner called his method "vaccination", from "vacca", the Latin word for cow.

Reverend Thomas Pruen of Divesley was a friend of Jenner's who wrote in favour of vaccination. In 1807 Pruen published a book entitled 'A Comparative Sketch of the effects of Variolous and Vaccine Inoculation, being an enumeration of facts ... which will enable the public to form its own judgment on the probable importance of the Jennerian discovery'.

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