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Aseptic Hospital Furniture

front cover of the 1913 catalogue of medical supplies by Thomas Wallis & Co., LondonCatalogue of Thomas Wallis & Co Ltd, Holborn London, 1913. King's College Archives, KH/CAT2/1page 14 of Wallis' catalogue 1913, aseptic furnitureAseptic furniture promoted inside Wallis' 1913 Catalogue. King's College Archives, KH/CAT2/1Non-aseptic furniture promoted inside Wallis' 1913 Catalogue. King's College Archives, KH/CAT2/1Non-aseptic furniture promoted inside Wallis' 1913 Catalogue. King's College Archives, KH/CAT2/1The increasing acceptance of asepsis from the 1880s not only changed surgical practice, but it also changed the commercial supply of surgical technologies.

Asepsis made surgeons more aware of the fact that 'germs' could linger in ebony, ivory, velvet and other porous materials from which surgical instruments and their cases had long been made.

Accordingly, surgical instruments, their accompanying cases, as well as hospital furniture, became wholly made from sterilisable surgical steel, making the destruction of any bacteria on these technologies possible by sterilisation.

Companies latched onto asepsis and began to market their surgical technologies as ‘aseptic’. Some companies used ‘aseptic’ as a brand name.

Yet at the same time, surgeons who remained unconvinced of the virtues of aseptic practice were still able to purchase technologies made from wood and/ivory and the two types of design were promoted alongside each other in specialist medical mail order catalogues well into the twentieth century.

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