cripple instruments

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Senior Member
In Sons & Lovers by D.H Lawrence, there is this Baxter Dawes who is an ironsmith for a factory that makes medical devices. The book says about his work that:

Baxter Dawes, was smith for the factory, making the irons for cripple instruments, and so on.

My question is does he repair damaged instruments or does he make iron parts of medical devices for the crippled or neither?
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    An 'iron' used to be quite common usage to mean a piece of forged or cast iron. Irons is the plural so the meaning is 'iron parts of medical devices for the crippled'.
    Iron is expensive and heavy, so I expect most of the 'cripple instrument' (whatever that may be) is made of wood or leather


    Senior Member
    English - England
    In Lawrence's time, and until recently, the disease, polio, was relatively common. It often caused death and only a few people of those who recovered did so without having some paralysis in the limbs. Braces were used to allow those effected to walk:

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