Artficial left arm, United States, 1915

1915 in Kansas City
The Carnes Artificial Limb Company

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1999-528: Left above elbow prosthesis with a wooden socket connected to a wooden forearm. Metal mechanical hand with
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Left below elbow prosthesis with a wooden socket, connected by jointed side steels to a leather upper arm corset. Metal mechanical hand with pronation / supination action combined with flexion and extension of the elbow. Hole in hand for driving cup fitment (added in more recent years) Passive wrist flexion and extension. Made by Carnes Arm Company, United States of America 1915.

This artificial arm for a below-elbow amputee was made to a pre-First World War design developed by the Carnes Artificial Limb Company of Kansas. Perhaps its most ingenious feature is that when the elbow is bent the wrist turns in a clockwise direction – very helpful when directing, say, food toward the mouth. When the elbow is straightened the wrist returns to its original position.

After their experience dealing with limb amputations during the American Civil War (1861-1865), American limb makers were better equipped than the British to deal with the demand for limbs created by the First World War. Several manufacturers set up workshops at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Roehampton, the main centre for limb-fitting. However, Carnes initially stayed in America and simply exported limbs made to measurements that were sent from across the Atlantic. This type of prosthetic limb was expensive and became known as the ‘officer’s arm’ as it tended to be officers who bought them. Officers received a fixed allowance to spend on a limb, unlike the rank and file soldiers who were simply issued with one. It is shown with a similar example (1999-528).


Object Number:
leather and metal
artificial arm
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • prosthesis
  • artificial limb
Richmond Twickenham and Roehampton Healthcare NHS Trust

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