Friday, February 18, 2011

Past to Meet Present Part 3

It wasn't better than chocolate but what a treat on Valentine's Day, 2011 to choose and learn all about antique medical instruments!

Karen Richardson, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine's (WFIRM) public relations officer, and I sat in a second floor office at the Institute surrounded by boxes and totes filled with history while we discovered the most interesting instruments to display in the lobby of the Richard Dean Biomedical Sciences building at the downtown research park.

We decided that since the display cabinets aren't quite ready we would look at pictures (taken for appraisal) first and then start pulling items out of the 30+ boxes to display when the cabinets are ready. The cabinets and instruments are all from Dr. John Monroe, a retired ob/gyn physician, who accumulated his collection over 40 to 50 years.

Karen started writing down the number of each item and a brief description and as we progressed, we developed several themes for displaying. I began to write down unfamiliar terms to research upon returning to the Archives.

Besides bloodletting (or instruments used for bleeding, a common practice in antique medicine), we came up with the theme of general diagnostic -which is where two of our favorite pieces come in:
And this is a tooth key, used to pull decaying teeth (not to actually count them). One person helping with the collection said: I think the tooth key is my favorite for pure brutality. Intrigued? In pain? Then read here.

2. Next up is:

a doctor's lady, a figurine for a female or husband to show the doctor where it hurts. According to Dr. Monroe, the Chinese husband left his wife at home and used something like the above to show the doctor what kind of problems his wife was having. He often arrived home with medicine or treatment instructions. Want to see an R-rated version? Need help? Check this out.

So next up in this interesting experience is physically removing the items from the boxes and placing them in the clean and lit cabinets. Stay tuned!