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Thread: Ether cone question

  1. #1
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    Default Ether cone question

    Does anyone out there have any actual reference to the metallic ether cone that seems to be ubiquitous at re-enactments? I can find reference to the ether cone being a rolled towel (sometimes with a sponge in it) but not a metallic funnel. I see some varieties on Dr. Michael Echols' website but nothing resembling the funnel we all see.

  2. #2
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    Actually, it was on Alex Pecks website, but still, same question...

  3. #3
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    The Military predominately as matter of old habit used the rolled towel cone by far. There were a number of private market devises being sold for that purpose, which may or may not have seen actual military use. Some existed during the 1860's (ie: Chisolms, Morton, Snow) yet many out there were actually post-war. (ie: Clover, Hewitt, Hare) Im not aware of any mass purchases of such devises by the army.

    Im not sure which metalic instrument your specificly referencing... But have frequently seen at various sutlers the handled copper funnel item with the small sponge retainer bracket/bridge inside... Which Ive seen many in the reenactment community blindly jump on... however I personally would be suspect of both of its period authenticity and preponderance of use... or lack thereof... If in doubt... stay with the towel... tons of documentation of its use...

    Just an opinion and observation..
    Lieut Frederick Sineth
    14th Virginia Infantry Regt Co.I
    - 106th Penna Vol Co.F

    - Pegrams Va Artillery
    - 150th Sailors Creek

  4. #4
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    "the handled copper funnel item with the small sponge retainer bracket/bridge inside" is indeed the one I'm referring to. I'm thinking exactly the same as to staying with the towel. Thanks for your input!

  5. #5
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    If you Google “ether cone” or “chloroform cone” and use the image function, you’ll find some interesting things.

    Look at some historical examples used in obstetrics at http://www.cothon.net/Anestesia_Obstetrica/Devices.html

    I like the ” Trendelenburg Cone” (1871) at the Wood Library Museum of Anesthesiology. http://woodlibrarymuseum.org/museum/...delenburg-cone

    I believe that the cone funnel that the sutlers sell was used in the period or at least the idea was around, but the big question is how much it was used, where, and by whom. It seems like another thing that folks have grabbed onto just because it’s labeled medical and it’s there… Like others, I see in primary surgery sources that the idea is to use a rolled or “coned” towel.

    Carson Hudson
    Williamsburg, VA

  6. #6
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    Yeah, I did that, it was one of the things that prompted me to post here. I'm questioning if there is actually ANY actual period reference specific to the cone that resembles a modified canning funnel. I'm starting to suspect it's as farby as the Adirondack chairs that are so prevalent, and was the invention of some enterprising tin-knocker years ago who misunderstood the description of a (cloth) cone with a sponge inside. I've been doing this for 13 years and in all my reading / research I have never seen a picture of an "original" or come across a description that matches it, hence my post.

  7. #7
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    The good folks at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine will know:

    http://www.civilwarmed.org/contact-us/

    If I recall correctly, there is a copper ether funnel on display there, so it might not be farby.
    Pvt. T. McIntire

    Battery B, 4th U.S. Artillery
    ----------------------------
    "Artillery adds dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl."

    --Unknown

  8. #8
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    I hadn't though about that, maybe I'll give 'em a try...

  9. #9
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    Google patents weren't much help but did show some post war inventions, google books might find you something.
    Boyd Miles

    I dream of a world where a chicken can cross a road without having its motives called into question.

  10. #10
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    Attempting to dig back through decades of old data files trying to locate more information... I do now recall at least one period reference where a surgeon (I think he was confederate) reported making improvised use of a common tin funnel using a small piece of sponge wedged inside. Administered by holding it slightly to the side of the patients face thus also allowing sufficient air in as well. Since ether/chloroform evaporated quickly when exposed to open air... there was a general attempt to lessen amount used/required to prevent unnecessary waste. However as previously mentioned this appears to be moreso a rare improvised experimentation rather than a normal common habit. What the origins or basis is for this specific sutler copper handled funnel device is Im not aware of... Nothing found in any of my period or referencing CW & victorian era medical books mentioning anything about it... Figured if this was a wide spread and favored concept... someone else should have given mention to it.. Even Chisolms Chloroform inhaler got lots of coverage in the Medical-Surgical OR's.... but nothing found about any funnels... I guess if a sutler has it it has to be 100 percent period and authentic right?... (snicker)

    I was at the Museum of Civil War Medicine a few months ago for a documentary film shoot, and I went back through my still photos and sure enough there is one of the reproduction copper funnel devices noted in a maniquin display setting demonstrating an amputation, confirming what McIntire previously mentioned. George Wunderlich is the director there and he is also a member on this board... but typically he keeps quite busy, but might stop by and chime in with further details.
    Lieut Frederick Sineth
    14th Virginia Infantry Regt Co.I
    - 106th Penna Vol Co.F

    - Pegrams Va Artillery
    - 150th Sailors Creek

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