Henry Hill Hickman's satin waistcoat, Europe, 1820-1830
Henry Hill Hickman (1800-1830) is a somewhat forgotten pioneer of anaesthetics despite the experiments he carried out in the 1820s – mainly on animals. In these rather gory experiments, Hickman would anaesthetise an animal with carbon dioxide before removing a limb whilst observing the creature for signs of pain. Although he chose the wrong gas – later researchers would use safer gases such as nitrous oxide or ether – he did prove that gas inhalation could prevent pain during a surgical operation. However, in 1826 his work was dismissed as “surgical humbug” by The Lancet and Hall died in relative obscurity from TB at the age of only thirty. The waistcoat is shown here with Hickman’s door plate (A645118).
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Close-fitting main garments extending to below the waistline. Usually front buttoning and sleeveless, but may have sleeves, especially garments from the 18th century. Worn over a shirt and under a coat or jacket.
An agent that causes insensitivity to pain. Applied to either the whole body (general anaesthetic) or a particular area or region (local anaesthetic).
An infectious disease that is caused by a bacterium first identified by Robert Koch in 1882. The disease usually affects the lungs first, and is accompanied by a chronic cough.