Ricord type vaginal speculum

Made:
1825-1871 in Paris
maker:
Mathieu

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

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

Ricord speculum, by Mathieu, used on Empress Eugenie, by Ricord, French

A speculum lets a physician look inside the body. American physician Dr Philippe Ricord (1800-89) used this vaginal speculum on Napoleon III’s wife, Empress Eugénie of France (1826-1920). The speculum is made of gilt metal and ivory. These expensive metals show the importance of the physician and the patient. Specula with two valves, such as this, were introduced in 1825.

Problems with vaginal specula include pain felt by the patient and how much light the physician has to perform an examination. The highly polished surface of the valves reflected some light. Specula examinations caused controversy in the 1800s over male doctors performing such an intimate examination on women.

Details

Category:
Clinical Diagnosis
Collection:
Sir Henry Wellcome's Museum Collection
Object Number:
A600264
Materials:
gilt and ivory
type:
vaginal speculum
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • medical instrument
  • speculum
credit:
Loan, Wellcome Trust