Surgical dressing substitutes, Europe, 1914-1918

Made:
1914-1918 in Europe
maker:
Unknown

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Surgical dressing substitutes, first World War Graduated grey background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Surgical dressing substitutes, consisting of a roll of, petticoat cotton, curtain material, cotton muslin and block of sphagnum moss, First World War

During the First World War, there was a great demand for surgical dressings. At one time demand outstripped the supply and therefore any spare materials were used as dressings. The greatest shortages developed in Germany after an effective naval blockade prevented supplies of materials reaching German ports. Surgical dressing substitutes were made from a range of textiles, including curtains, cotton muslin and cotton used for petticoats.

Perhaps the most unusual material in this group is sphagnum moss. It was first used on a large scale by the Japanese during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). Sphagnum was actually an ideal material as it was good for absorbing and keeping hold of liquids, and it had a cooling and soothing effect. Most importantly sphagnum had antiseptic properties which would help prevent infection and gangrene.

Details

Category:
Surgery
Object Number:
A600306
Materials:
cotton, moss and muslin
Measurements:
moss: 52 mm x 85 mm x 76 mm, 0.12kg
petticoat: 110 mm 70 mm, 0.06kg
muslin: 105 mm 65 mm, 0.07kg
curtain: 94 mm 82 mm, 0.11kg
type:
surgical dressing
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • surgical equipment
  • surgical instrument

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