Artifact of the Week: Drs. W.F.S. Blacks Cupping Apparatus

By Shelby Clifford, AHS Co-op Student 2017

Drs. W. S. F. Black created this set of cupping instruments with the mindset of innovation and convenience for all doctors operating all around the U.S and Canada. Medical journals dating back to late 1800’s explained the different usages of this medical tool and the benefits that were added into the medical community.

The kit contained a set of 3-4 different cups that could be used as breast pumps, aspirators or stomach pumps. Along with the cups would be a barrel and a piston, and when assembled would be placed on an area of a patient’s skin and the affected area would be drawn out with the motioned of pumping with a valve, much like a bicycle tire pump. The medical reasoning for the cupping was drawn from the Venturi Effect, created by an Italian Physicist, in which a reduction of pressure with fluids when passed through tubes can be maximized to remove unwanted fluids from a patient. It also stems from the ancient practice of cupping therapy that originated in Asia in 1600 B.C. With the merging of these two theories a birth of this kit was created, and one was kept with Dr. Hillary!

To this day, the kit is not a prominent feature in the medical field as time went on other creations were made. Today, a slightly changed medical theory, known as Negative Pressure Wound therapy, involves a partial vacuum like process in which fluids are still drawn out but a better environment for the healing skin is kept warm and dry to ensure the fastest and safest way of healing. But the innovation of this product proves to be a prime example of convenience and readily available help to patients all over the world.