Originally published: 23.03.17
The above image, dating from 1831, is a diagram of a vaginal speculum designed and manufactured by John Weiss, a well-known maker of surgical instruments in London in the 18th and 19th centuries. The company in fact still operates to this day. Intended for direct vision of the cervix via the vagina, the first vaginal specula were used by the ancient Greeks and Romans. However, the invention of the ‘modern’ speculum that is familiar to us today is largely credited to the American James Marion Sims, a well-known gynaecologist in the 19th century.