Artificial Leg

Description (Brief):

Today most people associate the need for an artificial limb with the consequences of war. But, in nineteenth century America industrial and farm accidents were common.

Description (Brief)

Patent model # 57666 of a prosthetic leg was invented by Dr. Douglas Bly. This particular patent for the improvement in artificial legs was granted 4 September 1866. Douglas Bly was born in 1824 in West Henrietta, Monroe County, New York. He attended medical school in Philadelphia graduating in 1851. Bly received thirteen patents for artificial legs and improvements to artificial legs. He eventually went into business manufacturing his artificial limbs. Bly died May 10, 1876 in Rochester, New York.

Description (Brief)

His first patent in 1857 for an artificial leg (#17888, reissue #1510 in 1863) was co-invented with R. H. Nicholas and is in the collection of the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware.

Patent model for Douglas Bly, “Improvement in Artificial Legs,” U.S. Patent 57666 (September 4, 1866).

Douglas Bly (1824-1876) was a physician who held thirteen patents for artificial legs and improvements thereto. He eventually settled in Rochester, New York, and began manufacturing artificial limbs.

Date Made: 1866

Maker: Bly, Douglas

Location: Currently not on view

Subject: Patent ModelsMedicineProsthesisDisabilities


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Medicine


Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1978.0273.01Accession Number: 1978.0273Catalog Number: 1978.0273.01Patent Number: 57,666

Object Name: leg, prostheticprosthesis

Measurements: overall: 6 1/2 in x 18 7/8 in x 10 in; 16.51 cm x 47.9425 cm x 25.4 cm


Record Id: nmah_211002

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.