Historical information

The Bruck Inhaler is a modification of the Clover Inhaler, designed by Lambert Bruck. Bruck added a glass dome which enabled the level of ether to be monitored during administration. This was a revolutionary change as it removed guess work from the process.


The Bruck Inhaler is a historically, aesthetically and scientifically significant piece. The basic design is based on the Clover Inhaler, but with a rounded bottom. The idea of a glass viewing window was possibly inspired by Wilson-Smith Inhaler.

The Bruck Inhaler is historically significant as it is the first inhaler to be made with a completely clear lower glass section. This improved the usability for the ether administrator, and eliminated much of the guesswork associated with dosage and ether levels, which in turn improved the patient experience.

This piece provides a strong local link to both anaesthetic and general medical practice at the turn of the century. The design is credited to Ludwig Bruck of Sydney, and was presumably manufactured in the same area. Bruck, as the attributed designer, holds much relevance to the significance of the object, as connected with him is much historical information about the social context of medical practice.

Ludwig Bruck was a prominent figure in the medical industry. He started his medical career in Sydney as a Medical Transfer Agent, and later owned a shop at 16 Castlereagh Street, Sydney. This business is listed in the 1903 Register of Firms as a Medical Agent and Importer of Medical Instruments and Books. Bruck was vocal as a journalist and published analyses of medical statistics, as well as the well known Australasian Medical Dictionary and Handbook, which included the “List of Unregistered Medical Practitioners”.

Ludwig Bruck was an immigrant. He was of German descent, which placed him in a precarious position within Sydney society during the turn of century. Bruck conducted several public conversations with prominent members of the Australian Natives Association through the Sunday News in regards to his disagreement of the employment of medical practitioners by the ANA specifically to corroborate their health insurance policies. He was also a stalwart supporter of the Australian arm of the British Medical Association, being the publisher of the first and subsequent editions of The Australian Medical Gazette.

Bruck chose to end his life with a combination of poison and chloroform on 14 August 1915, after being accused of trading with the enemy during World War One. His suicide note stated his horror at leaving his business partner to deal with the tarring of his reputation as the reason for his decision.

The Bruck Inhaler has aesthetic significance as it is a beautiful example of turn of the century surgical design and craftsmanship.

Aseptic methods of surgery were well known by 1909, and the aesthetic design of the Bruck Inhaler conformed to these principles. The ability for the surgeon to unscrew, clean and sterilize each part of the Inhaler contributes to the streamlined design of the piece.

The Buck Inhaler holds scientific significance. There is the capacity for further research to be undertaken on the object. Geoffrey Kaye often collected multiple examples of equipment, usually one for reverse engineering and another for teaching. There are currently two examples of the Bruck Inhaler in the collection, presenting an opportunity for further technical research on the object.

Physical description

The inhaler is oval shaped with one half made of glass to allow observation of the ether level. A vertical cross tube, 22mm in diameter passes between the face-piece and the bag [missing]. There is a stopcock for admission of oxygen or nitrous oxide opposite the bag attachment. There is a central tube, 28mm in diameter, with controllable ports on either side. There is also a tear-drop shaped fask mask.

Inscriptions & markings

Hand engraved on side of base: L. Bruck / Sydney