Distender, England, 1700-1800

Made:
1700-1800 in England
maker:
Gill

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Distender, possibly originally for surgical use, reputedly from the Tower of London, by Gill, English, 1700-1850

This standard surgical instrument is reputedly from the Tower of London. It appears to have been used as a torture implement. The jaws of the distender separate when the thumbscrew is turned and can forcibly open a mouth. The distender is embossed with the maker’s name, ‘Gill’. It was supposedly found at the Tower after a fire in 1841. Torture was used in the Tower to extract information from prisoners. However, contrary to popular belief only a small proportion of prisoners were tortured.

Details

Category:
Wellcome (general)
Object Number:
A14486
Materials:
body, iron, jaws, ivory
type:
distender
status:
Loan: Wellcome Trust

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