John Snow Chloroform Mask

We have a replica of a John Snow Chloroform mask in our History of Medicine Collection.

John Snow (1813-58) was the first specialist anaesthetist in Britain. He originally described his inhaler in 1847. The profile of both Snow and anaesthesia was heightened when Queen Victoria was given chloroform by John Snow during the birth of her son Leopold in 1853. In this inhaler, one canister was used for cold water and the other for chloroform.

A brass face mask lined with velvet was attached to the end of the flexible tube so the patient could inhale the anaesthetic vapours.

Listen to Dr Stephen Jeffreys, anaesthetist and member of the History of Anaesthesia Society, talk about John Snow and the mask here: