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November 23, 2020

18th Century Prosthetic Nose Made by a Man Who Had Lost His Nasal Cartilage

The 28-year old man did not only lose his nose, but also most of the cartilage of the nasal cavity and a large part of the palate. The mouth and nose together formed a gruesome hole. The poor man had a trick to bring his tongue out through his nasal cavity. After designing a prosthesis for himself of a artificial nose and palate, he learned again to speak and was enabled to eat and drink.

According to the Museum Vrolik, the cause of his facial trauma is unknown. Syphilis can cause, among other things, the loss of one’s nose. Though at a stage that severe, the brain is often also damaged to an extend that it’s unlikely that the man was able to function. Tuberculosis is another candidate, or an unfortunate accident.

This prosthetic shows how a young man tried to cope with his impairment. Mind you, this is the 1700s, well before World War I, when the production of prosthetics really kicked off – with soldiers coming back from the trenches with all sorts of parts missing. This patient had to be creative and try to conjure up some solution to make his life less miserable.⁣

(Photos by Frank Wiersema, via the Museum Vrolik)


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