Historical information

The poster has the following instructions for the treatment of snake bite:-
"A ligature, that is, a strong string or narrow strip of clothing if no string is to be had, should be at once applied near the bitten part, and between the bite and the heart. tight enough to stop the circulation.
The bitten part should then be immediately cut out by making, in the manner shown in the engravings, two curved incisions, which should be, where practicable, a quarter of an inch deep.
The wound should then be well sucked for then minutes, by persons who have no wound, cut, sore or ulcer in their mouths, or on their lips.
When the bite is on the head, face or body, or on any place where a ligature cannot be applied, the bitten part should be kept tightly pinched up till it can be cut out."

The poster was authorised by T.R. Wilson, Secretary of Melbourne's Central Board of Health, between 1865 and 1881. It was printed by John Ferres, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1865-1881. The Central Board of Health, Melbourne, was in existence between 1855 and 1889.


This poster has significance as an early record of public health instruction issued by the Central Board of Health in Melbourne for the treatment of snake-bite.
The materials used to mount and frame the poster are also of significance, with the printing being done on fabric, and the newspaper inserted between the poster and the backboards.

Physical description

Timber-framed rectangular poster with printed instructions for treating a snake bite. The poster is printed on fabric. Between the poster and the backboards is a layer of newspaper, revealed by the damaged fabric. The back of the frame is filled by three vertical timber panels that are strengthened by three horizontal timber slats across the top, centre and bottom. The timbers are fixed in place with nails. The edges of the frame at the back have remnants of paper. Two metal eyelets are inserted into the top edge of the frame.
The poster was issued by the Central Board of Health in Melbourne and printed by the Government Printer in Melbourne. It has the British Coat of Arms on top, diagrams and text, plus sections of newsprint.

Inscriptions & markings

Symbol of [British Coat of Arms] between the letters "V." and "R."
Instructions are printed on the poster.
Diagrams include a bite on the knee and bites on the hand.
Publisher "Central Board of Health, Melbourne, 28th February ----" "(By Order of the Board), T.R. WILSON, Secretary" "BY AUTHORITY, - - - - - - - - -, GOVERNMENT PRINTER, MELBOURNE"
Newsprint includes:-
"Duties in the bay were put ... --rried out. On ... harbour boat's cr-- ... , and formed of sufficient ... given ... to vessels in distress, and ... life-b- ... the help of a few..."
"last, a Gold English ... engraved -- cove-- to leave it at F.P. ..."