Blake Inhaler

WLMD ID: akwd
Cone- or funnel-shaped anesthesia masks and inhalers were used from the late 1840s through the 1910s. Some were made of porous material, such as cloth or paper, which was sprinkled with liquid anesthetic. Some held a sponge inside a cone of more solid material, such as leather, or metal. The Boston surgeon Dr. John B. Blake introduced his “ether cone” in 1894. The metal mesh was covered with several layers of gauze, which would then be saturated with ether. The separate tin cover had an inflatable rubber rim for a closer fit, and kept the anesthetic vapors concentrated over the patient’s nose and mouth. This shape was easy for the anesthetist to hold in place with one hand. The cover could be lifted to replenish the ether, or to admit fresh air, but that required the use of both hands. The Blake Inhaler was marketed by several companies, through the 1910s.

Catalog Record: Blake Inhaler

Access Key: akwd
Accession No.: 766

Title: [Ether cone] / [J. B. Blake].

Author: Blake, John B. (Bapst), 1866-1943.

Title variation: Alt Title
Title: Blake inhaler.

Title variation: Alt Title
Title: Blake ether cone.

Title variation: Alt Title
Title: Blake cone.

Title variation: Alt Title
Title: Blake’s cone.

Publisher: [Place of manufacture not indicated] : [Name of manufacturer not indicated], [1894-1920].

Physical Descript: 1 inhaler : metal ; 13 x 11 x 15.5 cm.

Subject: Inhalers, Anesthesia.
Subject: Ether, Sulphuric.
Subject: Ether, Ethyl.

Note Type: General
Notes: The early year in the date range for the possible year of manufacture is
based on the year that Dr. Blake first published about his ether cone. The
end date is an estimate based on mention of the cone in publications. For the
published works with the latest date that were found into mention the Blake
ether cone as a ‘current’ device see Greenbaum, 1918 ; Keen, 1918 ; Krause,
1918 ; and Miller, 1916. The few mentions after 1920 seem to be historical in
nature. The date range could change if new documentation indicates that it
should be corrected.

Note Type: General
Notes: The title is taken from Dr. Blake’s 1894 article, titled, “A Convenient Form
of Ether Cone”.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Blake JB. A convenient form of ether cone. Boston Med Surg J. December 20,
1894;131(25):617. https://books.google.
com/books?id=GM09AQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
August 31, 2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Blake, John Bapst. In: Herringshaw TW, ed. Herringshaw’s National Library of
American Biography. Vol 1. Chicago: American Publishers’ Association;
1919:349. https://books.google.
com/books?id=urzTAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
August 31, 2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Blake, John Bapst. In: Herringshaw TW, ed. Herringshaw’s American Blue-Book
of Biography: Prominent Americans of 1914. Chicago: American Publishers’
Assciation;1914:102. https://books.google.
com/books?id=LGcfAQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
August 31, 2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Corporation appointments. Harvard Allumni Bull. September 26, 1918;21(1):5.
https://books.google.
com/books?id=JinPAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
August 31, 2014. [John Bapst Blake … Assistant Proffessor of Surgery.]

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Fifty-Second Annual Report of The Trustees of the Boston City Hospital.
Boston: City of Boston Printing Department; 1916:10. https://books.google.
com/books?id=343OAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
August 31, 2014. [Listed as one of five Surgeons-in-Chief.]

Note Type: Citation
Notes: For the semi-open method. In: Squibb’s Meteria Medica. 1906 ed. Part 2. New
York: E.R. Squibb & Sons; 1906:355. https://books.google.
com/books?id=rChKAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
August 31, 2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Greenbaum RE. The value of mental influence and preliminary medication as
preparation in anesthesia. Trained Nurse and Hospital Review. March,
1918;60(3):150. https://books.google.
com/books?id=GHYXAQAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
August 27, 2014. [Mentions “Blake” cone.]

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Keen WW. The Dangers of Ether as an Anesthetic: Ether Day Address. Boston:
Press of Jamaica Printing Company; 1915:24. https://books.google.
com/books?id=2vs2AQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
August 27, 2014. [Mentions Blake cone.]

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Krause F, Heymann E. Ehrenfried A, translator. Anesthesia. In: Text Book of
Surgical Operations. Vol 1. New York: Rebman Company; 1918:20. https://books.
google.com/books?id=hlpqFO2fg-8C&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false.
Accessed August 27, 2014. [Mentions Blake cone.]

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Miller AH. Anesthetics of the future. Providence Med J. July 1916;17(4):193.
https://books.google.
com/books?id=LBSgAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
August 27, 2014. [Mentions Blake inhaler.]

Note Type: Physical Description
Notes: One mask-like ether inhaler made of metal and consisting of an internal
wire-mesh cone and an external tin cone which is open at the end; The
measurements and description are based on a patient’s perspective (facing the
oronasal side of the inhaler); The rim of the internal cone is tear-drop in
shape; The internal mesh-cone measures approximately 11.5 c 8.7 x 8.5 cm; The
mesh of the internal cone comes to a point; The rim of the external cone is
rounder and shaped at the top to form to the bridge of the nose; The opening
at the end of the cone measures approximately 4.9 cm in height and 4.4 cm in
width; There are no manufacturer or maker marks; An accession number is
painted onto the inside of the internal cone, and the outside of the external
cone; The number is 766.

Note Type: Reproduction
Notes: Photographed by Mr. Steve Donisch, September, 2013.

Note Type: Historical
Notes: Surgeon John Bapst Blake (1866-1943) introduced this cone for the
administration of ether in 1894. He intended it to be an affordable yet
effective option between the most basic methods of administering ether, such
as the use of a sponge, and more complicated inhalers, such as the
Battershall or Clover Inhalers.

The piece made of metal mesh fits inside the larger cone, which is open at
the end to allow air to move in and out. Waste cotton was placed inside the
larger cone and on top of the mesh cone, and ether was poured or dripped onto
the cotton. The mesh cone kept the ether from touching the patient’s skin.
Not included with this example is a rubber lining that fit on the rim of the
cone where it had contact with the face.

Dr. Blake suggested piling the cotton very loosely, so that “the patient
breathes through the cone with perfect ease.” When compared to a sponge, he
believed this design better prevented the waste of ether through evaporation
and absorption. He also emphasized its low cost and the ease with which one
could use, transport, and clean the pieces.

Blake was a Surgeon-in-Chief at Boston City Hospital and an assistant
professor of surgery and Harvard Medical School. He authored papers on a wide
variety of subjects and co-authored the textbook, Case Teaching in Surgery.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Blake JB. Administration of ether at the Boston City Hospital. September 28,
1899;141(13):312-314. https://books.google.
com/books?id=kMQEAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
August 31, 2014.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Blake JB. An examination of some recent statistics in regard to ether, and a
consideration of some present methods of its administration. Boston Med Surg
J. June 6, 1895;132(23):559-562. https://books.google.
com/books?id=Gs09AQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
August 31, 2014.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Blake JB. An examination of some recent statistics in regard to ether, and a
consideration of some present methods of its administration. Boston Med Surg
J. June 13, 1895;132(24):590-593. https://books.google.
com/books?id=Gs09AQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
August 31, 2014.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Blake JB. The general after effects of ether. J Boston Soc Med Sci.
1897;1(15):12-18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2121730/.
Accessed August 31, 2014.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Blake JB, Lahey FH. Infections due to the Bacillus Aerogenes Capsulatus, with
a report of ten cases. JAMA. May 21, 1910;54(21):1671-1675.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Blake JB. Palliative and operative treatment of fistula in ano. Boston Med
Surg J. September 2, 1897;137(10):230-235. https://books.google.
com/books?id=MsMEAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
August 31, 2014.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Blake JB. Recurrent dislocation of the lower jaw. Ann Surg.
1918;68(2):141-145. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1426866/.
Accessed August 31, 2014.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Blake JB. Sudden Death. Ann Surg. 1909;50(1):43-51. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.
gov/pmc/articles/PMC1407219/. Accessed August 31, 2014.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Burrell HL, Blake JB. Case Teaching in Surgery. Philadelphia: P. Blakiston’s
Son & Company; 1904. https://books.google.
com/books?id=SG8YAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
August 31, 2014.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Cabot RC, Blake JB, Hubbard JC. Studies of the Blood in its Relation to
Surgical Diagnosis. Ann Surg. 1901;34(3):361-374. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.
gov/pmc/articles/PMC1425572/. Accessed August 31, 2014.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Luke TD. A sterilisable inhaler for anaesthetic mixtures. Lancet. February 4
1905;1:302. https://books.google.
com/books?id=rbhMAQAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
August 31, 2014. [An inhaler that is a modification of the Blake ether cone.
Luke gets wrong Blake – ” … it is … an improvement on one which was
introduced several years ago by Mr. Clarence Blake of Boston …”. ]

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Monks GH, Blake JB. The normal appendix: its length, its mesentery, and its
position Or direction, as Observed in six hundred and fifty-six autopsies.
Boston Med Surg J. November 27, 1902;147(22):581-583. https://books.google.
com/books?id=p8YEAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
August 31, 2014.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Obituary: John George Blake, M.D. March 28, 1918;178(13):446-448.
https://books.google.
com/books?id=i88EAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
August 31, 2014. [J.B. Blake’s father’s obituary.]

Note Type: Exhibition
Notes: Selected for the WLM website.