This Esmarch bandage was on display as part of
the Royal Society of Medicine's exhibition of
books illustrating the history of military and
naval medicine from the sixteenth to the
nineteenth century.

The exhibition was entitled,"He Who Wishes to
Be a Surgeon Should Go to War".  It ran from 8
June - 14 August 2009.
The bonus photo can be found at:

The date of 1900-1906 can be found on Marilyn's blog at:
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Quiz #237 Results
Johann Friedrich August von Esmarch (Fig. 1) was one
of the last great surgeons of the nineteenth century
German school. Born on January 9, 1823, in the small
town of Tonning, on the west coast of Schleswig-
Holstein, he was the son of a district surgeon. He studied
medicine at the University of Kiel and Gottingen and
received his medical degree from Kiel in 1848, passing
the state examination with the highest grade.

Esmarch graduated medical school during the era in
which ether and chloroform were introduced into
Germany, making surgery a vastly more attractive
specialty for the young Esmarch. Upon graduation,
Esmarch began working as an assistant to the great
Professor Bernhard von Langenbeck. Langenbeck was
recognized as the greatest surgeon of his time, and
profoundly influenced Esmarch.

Immediately following his graduation from medical
(equivalent to associate professor).
Working alongside Esmarch in the struggle
for independence from Denmark was
Professor George Stromeyer, who
succeeded Langenbeck as Chief of the
Surgery at Kiel when Langenbeck was
called to Berlin.

Esmarch's association with Stromeyer
proved to be beneficial both personally and professionally, as he married Stromeyer's
daughter in 1854. When Stromeyer left to become General staff doctor of the Hanover
Army, Esmarch succeeded him as Director of the clinic. Although Esmarch was Chief
of Surgery at the University of Kiel, the Danish Minister of Education would not give
Esmarch the title of full Professor until three years later in 1857. Although this wait had
to be frustrating for him, he spoke of it in typically lighthearted terms. When told that
he was too young to be a full Professor, Esmarch responded by saying 'that was a well
known fault that would disappear with every year." Esmarch held the position of
Director until his retirement in 1899. His marriage was a happy one, until his wife's
death on May 30, 1870 after a severe, chronic illness. Their son Edwin von Esmarch, a
bacteriologist, later became Professor of Hygiene at the University of Gottingen, 1899.  

During the turbulent period from 1866 to 1870, war broke out again, and Germany
fought first against Denmark, then Austria, and France. Esmarch served an important
role in the Franco-Prussian war as consulting surgeon and public health officer
supervising the military hospitals near Berlin. In the later years of the campaigns,
Esmarch was unable to serve in the field, as he was recovering from an illness he
school, war broke out between Denmark and Germany, and Esmarch began his career
as military surgeon. In the initial battles, he was a line officer (lieutenant), having joined
with other young German patriots in secret arms training prior to the outbreak of
hostilities. His talents, however, lay in his ability to provide expert and compassionate
care for his wounded comrades. During the battle of Bau, while trying to control a
severed brachial artery in a fellow German soldier, Esmarch was captured by the
Danes. He was held on the prison ship "Droning Maria" for nine weeks, until he was
exchanged for a Danish doctor. During the wars of 1848 and 1850, he worked
alongside Professors von Langenbeck and Stromeyer in the field hospital at Flensburg,
his boyhood home. After the cease fire of Malmo, he set up a private practice in Kiel.
Soon thereafter, he left on a study tour of the great European medical centers; Prague,
Vienna, Paris, Brussels and London.

Upon his return to the University of Kiel, Esmarch was appointed privat dozent
contracted while operating.  In 1871, at age 48, he
became Surgeon General of the German army. In 1872
he married his second wife, the Princess Henriett von
Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg, who
was an aunt to the German Emperor William II. She
had been a friend to Esmarch, but it was unusual in
those days for a member of the royalty to marry a
University professor. Henriett bore Esmarch at least
one son, in addition to the two children from his
previous wife. It was Emperor William who titled von
Esmarch "Excellency" in 1899, when at the age of
seventy-six he retired from active practice. Nine years
later, on February 23, 1908, he died of pneumonia
following influenza. Even before his death, a statue
was erected in his hometown Tonning to
commemorate him.
Close-up of drawing on
Esmarch bandage
The Esmarch Bandage
to civilian life when he published a layman's handbook of "Early Aid in Injuries and
Accidents" (1875). This was translated into English in 1883 by HRH Princess Christian
and published in America. It was considered at the time to be a classic work, and was
translated into twenty-three languages.

Esmarch further devoted his energies to the founding of the Samaritan Movement in
which first aid was taught to civilians from all walks of life. He was inspired by the
order of St. John Ambulance Association which he had observed in London. On
returning home, Esmarch gave some simple emergency medical lectures to the laymen
of Kiel, and was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response. There was some resistance
from Esmarch's medical colleagues who feared that the laymen trained in first aid
would be dabbling in medicine. Esmarch persisted however, and eventually there was a
Samaritan School in virtually every village in Germany. Appropriately, they used
Esmarch's "Textbook for Samaritans" as training material. This tradition is being
continued in modern times in the form of the ever popular cardiopulmonary resuscitation

Read full article "Johann Friedrich August von Esmarch: His Life and Contributions to
Orthopaedic Surgery", John E. Herzenberg, M.D., F.R.C.S.(C). Click
Esmarch also developed his "von Esmarch triangular
cloth bandage", not to be confused with the Esmarch
tourniquet bandage. This three-cornered bandage had
detailed illustrations of wounded soldiers printed on
the cloth itself. The illustrations depicted its
appropriate use on any part of the body, so that the
soldier could properly apply the bandage according to
the illustration. Some of the non-medical military
authorities objected to distributing this graphic display
of battlefield horrors to the soldiers, but Esmarch
prevailed. A later modification of the arm issue
first-aid package included Esmarch's triangular
bandage, along with its pictures of six naked wounded
soldiers, each with an Esmarch triangular bandage
binding a different part of the anatomy.

Esmarch published a pamphlet titled "First Dressings
on the Battlefield" (1869) and later adapted his work
these, this triangular bandage was recently found in a small selection of World War One
vintage Imperial German Army artifacts.  These early bandages were the first such
issue of an individual bandage or dressing to each soldier.  Prior to this issue, carrying
bandages and other first aid material was left solely to the Medical Department
personnel – corpsmen and doctors.  I showed photographs of this bandage to a senior,
knowledgeable collector in Germany and he indicated bandages of this type, and of this
vintage are quite rare.  Lacking the more durable wrapping or metal canisters of later
bandages, these packets lacked the metal canister of the later and more familiar first aid
packets and hence were more susceptible to wear and the elements, resulting in a far
lower survival rate.       

This “Erste Verband” or literally “First Bandage”, were of the same format and style as
those included in the “First Help for Wounds” packet issued to US Army soldiers
between 1900 and 1906.    

This triangle bandage bears the printed legend “Der erste Verband; nach Professor
Esmarch; Jetziger alleiniger Hersteller; Gabriel Herose A.G.; Konstanz”.  Translated to
English it reads: “The First Bandage; according to Professor Esmarch; Presently
exclusively manufactured by; Gabriel Herose, Inc.; Konstanz, Germany.”  The notation
to the left of the manufacturers label is the name of the artist who executed the
drawings.   Generally known as the “ESMARCH BANDAGE” within the medical
community, these bandages were named for Dr. Johannes Friedrich August von
Esmarch, however credit for the design of these bandages seems to be divided between
Esmarch and Dr. Mayor of Lausanne, Switzerland,
depending on the sources of information.

The debate regarding to whom the design credit is
owed notwithstanding, there seems to be little
disagreement that credit for the adoption of this
bandage and its eventual wide spread use belongs to
Esmarch.  A native of Germany (1823–1908), Dr.
Esmarch had risen to Surgeon General of the German
Army during the Franco-Prussian war.  Considered one
of the greatest authorities on hospital management and
military surgery, he introduced first aid training for both
military and civilian personnel, and his handbooks of
military surgical techniques were regarded as the best in
the field.  In his roll as Surgeon General, Esmarch
insisted each soldier carry this bandage as part of his
standard equipment issue.

The introduction of this bandage by Dr. Esmarch is
well documented by Colonel Vlas Efstathis, OAM,
CStJ, RFD, MB BS in his treatise, A History of First
Aid and Its Role in Armed Forces:

“Perhaps the Prussian surgeon Friedrich Von Esmarch
made the greatest contribution to battlefield first aid. He
was appointed Surgeon General at the outbreak of the
Franco-Prussian War (1870) and introduced battlefield
bandaging and splinting techniques. These skills were
later adopted by the British military stretcher bearers.
Von Esmarch produced two manuals entitled First aid
on the battlefield and First aid to the injured. Von
Esmarch adopted the triangular bandage (diagonally cut
from a 40 cm square of calico) for use on the
battlefield. This bandage was invented by Dr Mayor of
Lausanne and is still in use today. The triangular
bandage carried by every Prussian soldier as part of his
first aid kit was imprinted with six drawings showing
its various applications.”

From the research I have done on these bandages, the
format of the illustrations, and the number of the
various applications of the bandage varied to some
degree, but all seem to include the six primary figures
seen on this bandage and on the US Army Johnson and
Johnson bandage of the same vintage offered in
separate listing in this same section, with the bandage
applied in the same manner for the various applications.  
With the variance in different printings by different
medical suppliers, there were the addition and deletion
of other applications and treatments resulting in the
number of applications varying from 30 to 50, but
again, all seem to include the same six basic figures.  All
of the Esmarch style bandages consist of a three sided
piece of linen or cotton cloth, measuring from 3 – 4 ½
feet along the bottom, and longest, edge, and all were
printed in black ink.  Able to be folded in multiple
configurations, the triangular bandage served to cover
injuries on nearly any part of the body as well as serve
as an arm sling.  It is worthy of note to point out on
Comments from Our Readers
Answer to Quiz #257
May 23, 2010
Well, this particular item seems to be in the collection of the Powerhouse Museum in
Sydney, but only appears in a blog entry of one Erika Dicker, where there is a date for
neither the bandage nor the blog! I'll keep digging, but I'm not optimistic.
Peter Norton

This quiz I knew immediately as when I was in the boy scouts working on merit
badges I had to identify the 32 uses of the Triangular bandage. I even rememberd it had
32 uses and found reference to that very fact. Fun. Thanks.               
         Jim Kiser

How well I remember triangular bandaging techniques from my Girl Scout First Aid
course.  Still a useful tool today.                                                        
Diane Burkett

Any of us who have experienced, during our youth, the Scouts or perhaps the Guides
programs may have earned first aid badges.  During this time I was taught the various
uses of a triangular bandage for things like a broken arm, a sprain or to stop bleeding by
using it as a tourniquet. I don’t remember learning that the techniques were invented
and developed by the German/Prussian surgeon, Friedrich von Esmarch  but hopefully
he was credited with it in the Scouts manual.

I read that a Dr. Mayor of Lausanne, Switzerland, also used a triangular bandage but it
was Esmarch who designed and refined its various uses especially for battlefield first
aid. Esmarch was appointed Surgeon General to the German army  during the Franco-
Prussian War which began in 1870. Each soldier was given one of these bandages and
likely was taught its different functions as illustrated on it. The compact folds of this
rare sample show how it was neatly packaged for military bags.

I believe the bandage shown was designed by Esmarch in 1869. That is when he wrote
his book on military first aid entitled, “The first federation on the battleground”
(translated German to Eng). I think the bandage was included with the book and is now
held by the Royal Society of Medicine in London, UK. It’s interesting that the RSM
exhibit last year was called, "He Who Wishes to be a Surgeon Should Go to War".
Don Draper

To have had printed instructions on the bandage would have been very helpful to me in
earning my Girl Scout First Aid badge, but, alas mine was just a big white triangle.  We
were applying these to other 10-13 year old Scouts (not grown men) so there was way
more bandage than was needed to cover or stabilize the requisite body part and we had
to fold it to reduce the size.  Some of our wrapping were a bit cumbersome and less
neat than optimal but they got the job done and taught us principles that I still recall
more than 50 years later.                                                                  
Diane Burkett
Important medical device invented by a

1.  Who invented it?
2. What was its use?

Bonus:  Date this version of the above.
Submitted by long time Quizmistress Marilyn Hamill, affectionately known as Moggie.

1.  Fredric Von Esmarch
2.  A multi-use bandage which could be configured in 32-different ways

Bonus:  1900-1906
How Richard Solved the Puzzle
Sufficiently rare enough that most
military collectors have never seen one of
I started my search in Wikipedia  under triangular bandage and
yes, I learnt about it first in the Boy Scouts!

Richard Wakeham
More Photos of an Esmarch Bandage
Compliments of Marilyn (Moggie) Hamill

Click on thumbnail to see larger image.
McPheeters Antique Militia
Frederic von Esmarch
from the British Medical
Journal 1:719, 1908
Frederic von Esmarch
Friedrich von Esmarch, statue by
A. Brütt in Tönning (1905)
this German Army version, the illustration of the wounded man in the lower right hand
corner shows the use of the soldier's rifle as a splint for his leg.

In addition to this German Army bandage, and the Johnson and Johnson bandage,  
bandages manufactured by Seabury and Johnson in the U.S., and Vernon and Company
in England (known as the VERNAID BANDAGE) have been noted.   

This bandage, measuring 55” x 35” x 35”, is in excellent condition.  The material is
overall very clean, with a few scattered spots and no holes.  All of the figures are clear
and legible.  This early example of the basic issue of first aid materials to the Imperial
German Army soldiers through World War One is a very rare piece of medical
equipment, and is believed by collectors of that period of German military history to be
quite rare.  Given the tremendous toll of German wounded during, and the economic
depressions following, both World Wars, the survival rate of this early bandage is
understandably very small, and any stocks that survived the wars were likely used up
by the civilian population.  This is an excellent piece, and quite unusual, and would
never have to be upgraded – assuming you could find another.
Congratulations to Our Winners!

Forensic Genealogy salutes Mr. Rick's graduating class of 2010!

Judy Pfaff                Tamura Jones
Wayne Douglas                Debbie Circarrelli
Jessica Jolley                Gary Sterne
Donna Jolley                Jocelyn Thayer
Margaret Waterman                Karen Kay Bunting
Beth Long                Heiti Delucci
Rebekah Nussbaum                Gary Bodrato
Talea Jurrens                Tim Groves
Richard Wakeham                Audrey Nicholson
Collier Smith                Betty Ware
Jim Baker                Suzan Farris
Margaret Paxton                Carl Blessing
Mary Hurley                Bill Hurley
Pam Long                Peter Norton
Tom Davis                Betty Chambers
Stan Read                Tina Cooney
Edee Scott                Jim Kiser
Diane Burkett                Don Draper
Tom McEntee                Robert W. Steinmann Jr
Mike Dalton                Daniel E. Jolley
Vicki Ellenberg                Milene Rawlinson
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