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Orthopaedic corset, Europe, 1801-1880

Made for a child, the smaller piece of this iron corset would have been worn against the chest with the larger section supporting the back. The corset was probably worn to support the spine and perhaps gradually improve posture. Throughout the 1800s, skeletal tuberculosis was a fairly common disease of childhood and survivors were often left with severe spinal deformation that might have required the use of such a corset. The iron from which it was made would have made it very uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. The corset was purchased for £4,400 by Henry Wellcome in June 1928 as part of a collection that had previously belonged to Noel Hamonic (active 1850-1928). The collection consisted mainly of surgical instruments.

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Glossary: corset

A tight undergarment worn by women to shape the figure. Historically tied with lace and structured with bone.