Category Archives: 1860s

Spirograph, Salter’s, 1865


From: Lectures on Dyspnea, Lecture III.  By Hyde Salter, MD.  The Lancet London: A Journal of British and Foreign Medicine,  Surgery, Obstetrics, Physiology, Chemistry, Pharmacology, Public Health and News, Volume 2, October 28, 1865, page 475.

“The principle of the action of the instrument is this:  All the inspired air id derived from cylinder A, (above this piston) and all the expired air passes into cylinder B; (from culinder B it is again discharged into the open air; thus none passes back or is breathed over again.  The act of inspiration draws air from cylinder A expels the respired air from cylinder B, and the act of expiration which breathes the expired air into cylinder B draws a fresh supply of unbreathed air into cylinder A.”

Spirometer, Coxeter’s, 1861


From: The physical examination of the chest in pulmonary consumption and its intercurrent diseases by Somerville Scott Alison. 1861. Page 351.

“This instrument differs from Hutchinson’s in principal, and possesses the advantage of equal accuracy, great portability and comparative cheapness. It consists of two bags, one acting as a reservoir for expired air, and the other as a measure. The air is first expired into the larger back supplied with stopcocks to retain it. The next step is to pass seriatim the air into the measure bag, and to calculate the amount. The second bag can contain from 40 to 50 cubic inches, and it is to be filled from time to time, till the whole amount is measured. This instrument only costs 26s., and Mr. Coxeter I understand, has very recently improved it.”

Spirometer, Eckert’s, 1860


US Patent 26754 by Augustus Eckert of Dayton, Ohio. 1860.  A non counter-weighted water-seal spirometer.  Two of the patentable features were a guide rod (B) to keep the inner bell straight and an air-filled water-tight chamber in the rim of the bottom of the inner bell (buoy, E) that served the same purpose as a counter-weight.  The cork (D) was removed after a vital capacity effort had been made and recorded to allow the bell to be returned to its lower position.

Hydro-Spirometer, 1861


From the Hydro-spirometer, by T. Lewis MD., British Medical Journal, Volume 2, 1861, page 255.

“The new form of spirometer I am about to bring under your notice, is constructed on the principal of displacing a certain quantity of water by an extreme effort of expiration from a graduated glass jar. The jar is graduated in cubic inches, the enumeration proceeding from above downwards, and the results of the experiment is read off the graduated scale.

“Description of the instrument. The jar is about sixteen inches in height and five and a half inches in diameter. It is closed at the top by a metallic cap, which is perforated by three holes, into which are inserted corresponding tubes, as will be seen in the diagram.

“While in operation, the instrument is laid almost horizontally on the table, having been previously filled with water up to the level of the mark which indicates the commencement of the scale. The glass mouthpiece at the extremity of the elastic tubing is then placed in the mouth, and, after an extreme inspiration, the fullest expiration is made. There is no necessity for any precautions at the close of the expiratory effort. After the effort, the instrument is replaced in the erect position, in order to read off the amount of air introduced into the jar. There is no necessity for any correction on account of temperature, as it assumed that the air proceeding from the lungs is nearly always the same temperature.”

Spirometer, G.W. Brown’s, 1868


Drawings from his patent (#73229) for the spirometer dated 1868.  From this It is apparent that it is a rectangular water-seal spirometer.  It was made of tin plate and its dimensions are listed as 8-1/2 inches wide, 4-1/2 inches deep and 13-1/2 inches tall.  The wire “handle” that projects over the top was a guide for the inner spirometer reservoir (bell).  The index (ruler) was attached to the inner reservoir and had a cover that protected it from wear.  A 1/4″ of vertical movement was equivalent to 8 cubic inches.  He specifically claimed that the guide rods and shield for the index were unique to his invention.

Spirometer, W.E. Bowman’s, 1863


From: The Half-yearly Abstract of the Medical Sciences: Being a Digest of British and Continental Medicine, and of the Progress of Medicine and the Collateral Sciences, Volume 38, 1864, page 132.  Original article by W. E. Bowman from the Canada Lancet, June 15, 1863.

“A cheap spirometer may readily be made from two tin vessels similar to shape of the ones figured in the accompanying woodcut; the one should be 20 inches long and 6 inches in diameter and the other 18 inches long and 5 inches in diameter.  The latter may be graduated into spaces of 8 cubic inches by means of our ordinary gallon measure, which is the old wine measure of Great Britain, and the one that is adopted by the United States Pharmacopaeia; it consists, as everybody knows, of 8 pints of 16 ounces each, the ounce meauring 1.8 cubic inches.

“Having placed the smaller vessel perfectly upright, measure into it a gallon of water, less half an ounce, and with a rule ascertain the precise distance from the surface of the liquid to the brim of the vessel, then placing this measure outside the tin, mark the height of the water as 230 cubic inches.  In a similar manner with half a gallon and 10-1/4 fluid ounces mark 134 cubic inches.

“Next, divide the space between these two marks into 12 equal parts, which will measure 8 cubic inches each and with the compasses continue the graduation upwards and downwards, placing the figures on the inverted vessel as here shown.  If its diameter be everywhere alike, the measure must be correct; its accuracy however may be readily tested by the annexed subdivisions of the same measure.  The pulleys and counterpoise may now be adjusted to the graduated tin.

“Next fill the larger vessel with water so that the smaller may be just covered when inserted as low as possible into it, and mark the height of the water on the inside of the tin. Then raise the small one gently until the 174 cubic inch line appears even with the surface of the water and make a second mark of its level.  Finally, put the third graduation on the large tin when the smaller is raised completely out of it.

“Lastly, affix 2 or 3 feet of flexible tubing and a mouthpiece to the top of the small tin and the spirometer will be ready for use.”