Mysterious item with mask shape and handle, on dark green smoky background

Wooden box with red linking, propped open. In front, a glass flask, and a anaesthesia facemask made of red velvet attached to a small metal cannisterFacemask

Manufactured by Ferguson, London, 1847

Copper, metal, rubber, silk, brass, lead, velvet, wood


Designed by Dr John Snow (1813–1858), an English doctor who led the early development of anaesthetics, this facemask and breathing tube apparatus were used to administer the anaesthetic drug ether.

Snow had observed that the success rates of using ether during operations were variable. His inhaler was designed to regulate the temperature and concentration of the ether used, resulting in more effective anaesthesia.

View catalogue entry for facemask

Part of the exhibition Unfamiliar.

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