Dewees Inhaler

WLMD ID: akdh

Dr. William Bushy Dewees (1854 or 1855, 1911 or 1912) wrote his medical thesis on obstetrical anesthesia in 1877. In 1894, he introduced a design for obstetrical forceps that is still in use today. In 1900, he introduced this inhaler, which could be used to deliver the vapors of either chloroform or ether. Shaped to fit closely over the nose and mouth, it has a fresh-air intake valve and an expiratory valve to prevent the patient from re-breathing his own exhaled carbon dioxide (features that it has in common with the Morton Inhaler). It was made entirely of metal so that it could be sterilized. Compare this to the Allis Inhaler, which uses cloth to provide a surface for evaporation of the anesthetic liquid.

Catalog Record: Dewees Inhaler

Access Key: akdh
Accession No.: 2003-02-14-1

Title: Dr. Dewees’s anaesthetic inhaler / manufactured by J. Ellwood Lee Co.

Author: Dewees, William B. [Bushy]. 1854 or 1855-1911 or 1912.
Corporate Author: J. Ellwood Lee Co. (Conshohocken, Pa.).

Title variation: Alt Title
Title: Dewees inhaler.

Publisher: Conshohocken, Pa. : J. Ellwood Lee Co.,1900-1901.

Physical Descript: 1 inhaler : metal ; 8.5 x 9 x 10 cm.

Subject: Inhalers, Anesthesia.
Subject: Anesthesia, Inhalation – instrumentation.
Subject: Ether, Ethyl.
Subject: Chloroform.

Note Type: General
Notes: Title taken from accompanying container.

Note Type: With
Notes: 1 dark blue and red cardboard box with telescoping lid; 39 x 41 x 40 cm ;
paper label applied to lid ; text on label includes “DR. DEWEES [new line]
Anaesthetic Inhaler [new line] PATENT APPLIED FOR [new line] MANUFACTURED BY
[new line] J. ELLWOOD LEE CO. [new line] MANUFACTURING CHEMISTS [new line]
CONSHOHOCKEN, PA. U.S.A.”; logo in center of label.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Dewees WB, inventor; Inhaler. US patent 686,270. November 12, 1901.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Dewees WB, inventor; Obstetrical Forceps. US patent 893,464. July 14, 1908.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Dewees WB. A new axis-traction and anti-craniotomy forceps. Trans Am Assoc
Obstet Gynecol.1894:7:477-479.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Price List of Absorbent Cotton and Dressings Medicinal and Surgical Plasters.
Conshohocken, Pa.: J. Ellwood Lee Co.; 1903:59.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Dewees WP. An essay on the means of lessening pain, and facilitating certain
cases of difficult parturition. Philadelphia: John H. Oswald: 1806.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Roberts E, ed. The Dewees Family :Genealogical Data, Biographical Facts and
Historical Information. Norristown, Pa.: William H. Roberts; 1905.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Deaths: William Bushy Dewees, M.D. JAMA. 1912;63(15):1131.

Note Type: Physical Description
Notes: An all-metal, hand-held inhaler; The overall shape is a cone, truncated at
the distal end; A compartment at the distal end holds liquid agent; A
simple sliding valve on the exterior of the distal end controls the amount of
air admitted; An expiratory valve is inset within the distal end; The
anatomically shaped proximal end covers nose and mouth; The reflective
surface suggests that the metal may be nickel or chrome; Small stamped
marking on left: “PATAPL’DFOR [new line] 80”.

Note Type: Reproduction
Notes: Photographed by Mr. Steve Donisch on January 17, 2013.

Note Type: Historical
Notes: William B. Dewees wrote his thesis for the University of Pennsylvania on “An
Essay on Means of Lessening the Sufferings of Parturition” in 1877. He
practiced gynecology and obstetrics in Kansas. Among several other articles
he published “Painless Childbirth or Status of the Means to Prevent
Birth-Pain” in 1894; the latter publication does not describe apparatus. Also
in 1894 he introduced his design for obstetrical forceps, which was patented
in 1908 and remains in use today. In 1901 he patented his design for an
inhaler. W. B. Dewees was related to William Potts Dewees (1768-1841), a
Professor of obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania. W. P. Dewees
published three textbooks which went into numerous editions, as well as “An
essay on the means of lessening pain, and facilitating certain cases of
difficult parturition”, published in 1806.

Note Type: Historical
Notes: William B. Dewees filed his application to patent an inhaler in September,
1900. It was granted in November, 1901. The markings on this example,
“PATAPL’DFOR”, indicate that it was made between these dates. The
illustrations of the patented inhaler have only a slight resemblance to the
manufactured object.

Note Type: Historical
Notes: The J. Ellwood Lee Company’s Price List of May 1903 states: “Ether Inhalers,
Dewees’s Aseptic (Patented Nov. 12, 1901) …. system of valves which allows
the fresh air to pass into the lungs over the ether but does not allow the
exhaled …. air to pass out through the same channel…. With the admission
of fresh air in the proper proportions, chloroform can be used as safely as
ether. It requires no threading of gauze …”.

Note Type: Exhibition
Notes: Exhibited in WLM Gallery, Inhalers Display, 2003-2010.