Nitrous oxide cylinder

1840-1868 in Europe

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Empty nitrous oxide cylinder, used in dentistry(?), 1840-1868

This gas cylinder, now empty, once contained nitrous oxide or ‘laughing gas’. In the late 1860s, nitrous oxide replaced chloroform as the preferred anaesthetic in dentistry.

In England in 1868, George Barth and J Coxeter, of Coxeter & Son, a surgical and medical supplier, developed a way to turn nitrous oxide from gas to liquid so it could be stored easily in cylinders and sold commercially. Two years later, Coxeter & Son began selling cylinders of nitrous oxide for 3 d per gallon in exchange for empty cylinders.

On display

Science Museum: Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries

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Object Number:
gas cylinder
Loan, Wellcome Trust

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