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The Cotter Medical History Collections

The Museum holds:

  • Instruments and health-related equipment, including many nineteenth century ebony-handled artefacts.

  • The Tracy Gough electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) machine, the first to be built and used in New Zealand, the first real time foetal ultrasound scanner used in New Zealand, and significant collections of cystoscopes and gastroscopes.

  • Medical devices of dubious worth and likely to have been developed by unscrupulous or deluded individuals in the past in the hope of effecting a cure or maybe just making a useful profit.

  • The pharmacy collection includes old medicine containers that show the slow progress towards modern medicines and the amusing puffery that accompanied popular medicines for more than a century of New Zealand’s history.

  • The Stephen Clark Microscope Collection of over 100 microscopes, the oldest being a compound microscope manufactured in 1765. This outstanding exhibit can be seen in public foyer of the University of Otago, Christchurch.

  • Nursing memorabilia covering hospital patient care over the past two centuries and includes hospital domestic ware, uniforms and much more.

  • A library of pre-1950 medical books, biographies of Canterbury’s medical practitioners, and books by and about New Zealand doctors.

  • Pat Cotter’s collection of biographical files of over 1,000 Canterbury doctors.

  • Architectural plans and photographs of hospitals and staff in Canterbury District Health Board region.

  • The Sunnyside Collection contains memorabilia, photographs and written material from 1863.

Life of Pat Cotter

Tonsils to Toenails: the life of Pat Cotter, Christchurch surgeon and tree farmer

Written by Claire Le Couteur, this is a biography of Pat Cotter, not only a respected surgeon and later a successful tree farmer in his retirement, but also an avid collector of medical memorabilia now stored at the Cotter Medical History Museum in Christchurch.
‘A highly satisfactory biography’– Dr Geoffrey Rice
Price: $25 plus $5 postage

Vaccines & Vesicles

Vaccines & Vesicles: a History of Smallpox Vaccination in New Zealand

Written by Claire Le Couteur, this is the somewhat alarming story of how smallpox vaccine was manufactured in New Zealand in the nineteenth century.

Price: $25 plus $5 postage

Camphor for the Collywobbles

Camphor for the Collywobbles: Ship's Surgeon Dr Augustus Florance's voyages 1857-1862

Written by Claire Le Couteur, this book contains transcripts of Dr Florance's medical shipboard diaries of two of his voyages, illustrated with a discussion on nineteenth century medicine as practised by him and notes on his life in St Albans, Christchurch.

Price: $30 plus $5 postage

Pills and Potions

Pills & Potions

Written by Claire Le Couteur, is a record of selected Museum items.

Price: $20 plus $5 postage

Silent Treasures

Silent Treasures Tell Their Stories

Written by H Bramwell Cook, is a record of selected Museum artefacts.

Price: $35 plus $5 postage

Rex Wright

Historia Nunc Vivat: Medical Practitioners in New Zealand 1840 to 1930

This magnum opus was written by Rex Earl Wright-St Clair and has been digitised by the Trust.