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Digital Images

Distender, England, 1700-1800

Science Museum, London

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view Distender, England, 1700-1800


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Credit: Distender, England, 1700-1800. Credit: Science Museum, London. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

About this work


This standard surgical instrument is reputedly from the Tower of London. It appears to have been used as a torture implement. The jaws of the distender separate when the thumbscrew is turned and can forcibly open a mouth. The distender is embossed with the maker’s name, ‘Gill’. It was supposedly found at the Tower after a fire in 1841. Torture was used in the Tower to extract information from prisoners. However, contrary to popular belief only a small proportion of prisoners were tortured. maker: Gill Place made: England, United Kingdom


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