Holmgren wool test (of colour vision)

Catalogue Number: 1934
Holmgren wool test (of colour vision)
Category: Equipment
Sub-Category: Colour Vision Test
Designer/inventor: HOLMGREN, Alarik Frithiof
Year Of Publication/Manufacture: not known
Time Period: 19th C
Place Of Publication/Manufacture: not known
Publisher/Manufacturer: not known
Description Of Item: Lidded dark brown cardboard box, 150 mm long x 105 mm wide x 59 mm high, containing coloured skeins of wool each attached to a circular numbered disc, six empty manila envelopes each labelled 'HOLMGREN WOOLS' with a series number, a type description and a number. The outside and inside of the lid have a label identifying it as 'COLOUR BLINDNESS TEST AFTER PROF HOLMGREN' with a description of the contents and the intended purpose of each colour skein. The label advises consulting Jenning's on 'Colour vision and Colour blindness' for further particulars. (see Cat No 66 for this book)
Historical Significance: Alarik Frithiof Holmgren (1831-1897) was a Swedish physiologist who trained with von Brucke in Vienna and Helmholtz in Heidelberg. He was professor of physiology at Upsala, Sweden, from 1864. He researched the ERG but is best remembered for his studies of colour vision and colour blindness and railway and maritime colour vision standards. His investigations were initiated by a railway accident at Lagerlunda in Sweden in April 1876 which he believed was due to colour blindness of the engine-driver, although it is doubtful if this is true . Holmgren surveyed 266 employees on the Uppsala-Gavle railway line and found 13 who were colour-blind. He was a vigorous advocate, lecturing on the dangers of DCV in USA and Europe and in 1877 colour tests had been prescribed for railway and shipping personnel in Sweden. See http://www.whonamedit.com/doctor.cfm/2202.html and Vingrys AJ, Cole BL Origins of colour vision standards Ophthal Physiol Optics 1986, 6, 369. This test was used by the British Board of Trade to test the colour vision of seafarers from 1895 to 1913 and by some railway companies. There are variations on it, namely the Holmgren-Thomson test, Olivers' worsted test, Thomson's Stick, Donders' Wool Test. See Jennings Color-Vision and Color-Blindness: Practical Manual for Railroad Surgeons 1905 Cat # 66. Instructions for use of the test can be found in Swanzy Handbook of Diseases of the Eye 1897. (see Cat No 625). There are many versions of the test and although it was devised in 1877 or thereabout, this version may have been made in the early 20th C. See Cat No 624 for another example.
How Acquired: Donated by Pamela Sutton, honorary archivist
Date Acquired: Aug 2011
Condition: Good
Location: Archive room. West wall. Unit 1 Drawer 1

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