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Norfolk, VA 23517

Red Cross Sterilization Cart (E. Bedouet / F. Rongier) with Sink and Two Glass Jugs, c.1914-1918


Red painted field hospital sterilization cart with a ceramic sink and two glass jugs, made in the early 20th century (c.1914-1918). Stamped E. Bedouet - F. Rongier, SR (SR standing for "Successor"), 340 Rue St. Jacques, Paris. Metal label reads "American Red Cross." Cart has three shelves with rails on one side, and a sink with two jars with corked glass tube spouts, two brass soap dishes, two brass pincers, and two working foot pedals on the other. The original basin for waste water is not included. Rolls on four wheels with original rubber. 

Painted red to indicate its use by the Red Cross, this metal surgical cart on wheels was used for sterilization of surgical instruments, most likely during World War I. The two jugs most likely stored alcohol or other cleaning liquids. The corked-in glass spouts allowed the liquid to flow freely over tools into the sink. These tools were held in place by brass pincers controlled by two foot pedals below the cart. The hands-free technology of the early 20th century.

The surgical equipment manufacturer E. Bedouet - F. Rongier, SR, whose name is stamped on the front of the sink, is described in a 1906 headlining advertisement of "Revue de chirurgie" (Vol. 33): E. Bedouet - F. Rongier, Successeur. Installation complète de Salles d'opérations, Cliniques, Dispensaires, Cabinets de Médecins." This is complete with an old-fashioned telephone number: 812-96.

Travel Note: We visited the flagship store location on 340 Rue Saint Jacques, Paris, today a popular Italian trattoria called Il Pomod'Oro. This was a very useful spot for a medical equipment factory, as it was across the street from Val-de-Grâce. The building was a former Benedictine abbey saved from the ravages of the Revolution by the "grâce" of the nuns who tended the wounds of the revolutionaries. Val-de-Grâce is one of the few examples of unspoiled Baroque design, and after the revolution it was turned into a military hospital. Today, the hospital is adjacent to the original building, which now houses offices and a museum dedicated to field medicine. (Closed Mondays and Fridays, and, of course, free on Bastille Day, July 14th.)

In excellent condition overall. The pincers still operate with the foot pedals, the wheels turn smoothly, and, other than a few scrapes and a cracked-off prong that originally held the waste basin (no longer with this piece), it is in amazing shape - especially for a piece that was used in the field. Measures 62 high x 42 long x 19 inches wide. Weighs 150 lbs.


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