Search our collections

Advanced Search

Object: Pressure sprayer

This image has Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons BY-NC-ND Creative Commons BY-NC-ND copyright licence

Title Pressure sprayer
Production A. & T. Burt, Ltd (manufacturer(s)), circa 1910, New Zealand
Materials brass, copper, wood
Classification atomisers
Dimensions Overall: 333mm (Height) x 550mm (Length) x 300mm (Width/Depth)
Credit line Purchased 2008
Registration number GH011797

This pressure spray inhaler was used during the 1918 influenza pandemic in attempts to limit the spread of the disease by spraying people's throats with a mist of zinc sulphate solution.

The device is a pressure vessel with a spray nozzle. The vessel was heated by a primus stove beneath it. A mug holding the zinc sulphate solution was held in the clip mounting at the side, and a tubular sighting glass for monitoring the level of liquid in the vessel would also have been mounted at the side.

Zinc sulphate sprays
Zinc sulphate sprays were used in many New Zealand towns and cities during the 1918 influenza pandemic. The spray was believed to be antiseptic, but it was ineffective against the influenza virus, and may in the long run have done more harm than good by damaging throat and lung tissue.

This inhaler was manufactured by the Dunedin engineering firm of A. T. Burt, Ltd, probably in the early 1900s. It is possibly one of the four that were made for the newly established Department of Public Health, which stationed one each in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin. During the pandemic, smaller inhalers were mass-produced by the Railways Department.

1918 influenza pandemic
The 1918 influenza pandemic is New Zealand's worst natural disaster. It killed as estimated 8251 people over a period of about a month from mid-October 1918. A high proportion of the dead were young adults, with Mäori suffering especially severe losses.

Related information

Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.