Elastoplast is one of the best known brands in this country and around the world. It is most famous for the sticking plasters used at home for dressing minor cuts. The brand is now owned and manufactured by the German company Beiersdorf AG, who bought it in 1992.
The tin shown here dates from the 1950s or 1960s. It contained a roll of elasticated adhesive bandage, which was three inches wide and could be stretched from its rolled length of three yards to between five and six yards. This was not for home use, but for medical professionals. There is a popular saying that something ‘does what it says on the tin’. Here the tin says it clearly: it is a standard dressing for all chronic diseases of the legs, such as ulcers, varicose veins, phlebitis, sports injuries and as a post-operative dressing and invaluable as a strapping for compression and support and for general surgical and orthopaedic purposes. The tin also displays instructions for use on varicose conditions.
The information on the tin shows that the bandage was made in England by T J Smith and Nephew Ltd of Hull. The company was founded in 1856 by Thomas James Smith of Kingston upon Hull who started a business as a dispensing chemist. Shortly before his death in 1896, Smith was joined by his nephew, Horatio Nelson Smith to form the business T. J. Smith and Nephew. The first Elastoplast plaster, was developed at this time when the firm expanded their business to wound dressings. In 1928 the company acquired the licence to market and produce the Elastoplast range of bandages and became a great British success story. The brand was eventually purchased by Beiersdorf AG, who owned, amongst other brands Nivea. The company therefore has a their focus on skin care. There are now some 200 Elastoplast products for a wide range of injuries.
Smith and Nephew is now American owned and its main activity is the design, development, manufacture and sale of advanced medical devices, such as endoscopy instruments and orthopaedic replacements.