Porcelain Bed Pan

This porcelain bed pan is part of our History of Medicine Collection. 

Alexander Fleming was the first scientist to observe penicillin mould in the 1920s. 

In 1940, Howard Florey, Ernst Chain and Norman Heatley carried out the very first test on eight mice: four received penicillin (and survived following exposure to germs) and the four who did not receive penicillin died.

During the war, resources were sparse. Biscuit tins and bed pans like this one were among the makeshift lab equipment used to collect the mould.

Listen to Roger Highfield, Science Director of the Science Museum Group, and professor of Public Engagement at the Dunn School, University of Oxford, talk about the bed pan here: