Artificial limbs were first made in the 1700s but, over the next century and a half, escalating injuries in factories and on battlefields meant that a small limb-manufacturing industry grew up. Until the early 20th century artificial limbs were generally made of wood but the huge number of limbless veterans of the First World War created a need that saw an expansion of the industry and great competition to improve designs. It was during this time that stronger, lighter metal limbs came to dominate the market.
This prosthetic arm has a wooden or synthetic upper arm, while the forearm is metal. A sophisticated mechanism in the elbow would have allowed the user to bend and straighten the arm using his shoulder muscles. Like artificial arms dating back to at least the late 1800s, this arm came with a set of attachments, or 'appliances', from a cosmetic wooden hand, to cutlery, to metal tools, allowing the user to perform a number of tasks in his home or workplace.
Guyatt, Mary, 'Better legs: artificial limbs for British veterans of the First World War', Journal of Design History, Vol.14 No.4, 2001, pp.307-325.
Wood, Gaby, 'Phantom limbs or The case of Captain Aubert and the Bengal tiger', in Hawkins, Hildi, & Olsen, Danielle, The phantom museum and Henry Wellcome's collection of medical curiosties, London: Profile Books, 2003, pp. 75-103.