Nursing collectibles and the people who collect them

photo credit: William W. DuBois

Dolls, wine bottles, postcards…what do these items have in common? They’re all collectibles and valuable to someone. If an object comes in more than one size or one style, there’s a sure bet that someone collects them. This includes nursing paraphernalia.

While you may not be into collecting iron lungs, here are some nursing contraptions that have found their way into collectors’ showcases.


Is there such a thing as a bedpan collector? Nurses may not think of bedpans as works of art, but surprisingly, others do. Bill DuBois, photography professor at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and chair of visual media at RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, is an avid collector of bedpans. According to the RIT website, DuBois bought his first bedpan in 1978 for 50 cents. “He used it for a planter, hanging it in a reception area near his office, only to have it stolen several weeks later,” the website says. DuBois has acquired bedpans for males and females from all over the world and has turned his collection into a photography exhibit. Apparently, DuBois is not the only one who collects bedpans. The American Association for the History of Nursing, Inc., lists bedpans as a nursing collectible.

Inhalers?!? –>

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Marijke Durning

Marijke is a professional writer who began her working career as a registered nurse over 25 years ago. After working in clinical areas ranging from rehab to intensive care, as a floor nurse to a supervisor, she found she could combine her extensive health knowledge with her love of writing. Although she has been published in a wide variety of publications for professionals and the general public, her passion is writing for the every day person to promote health literacy.

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10 Responses to Nursing collectibles and the people who collect them

  1. April

    I have an old glass urinal; not sure how old it is . . .

  2. Sandy

    I collect old medical supplies like the glass medicine bottles with glass stoppers and medication containers. It’s fun!

  3. Hilary Neumann

    Hi… open for bids.. I have a porcelin coated bedpan/urinal.. it even has the cover… Any offers?

  4. lu

    I collect porcelan bedpans and invalid feeders

  5. Bill DuBois

    Hilary Neumann, can you provide me with a photo of your bed pan you are selling? I am a collector and would be interested…

    Bill DuBois

  6. Nan

    I have 2 old glass syringes, not that they are a collection. But, I have 100+ books about nurses. Some of the best are the short novels written in the 50’s and 60’s. I have all but 3 of the Cherry Ames books, and those will always be my favourite. I read the first 3 or 4 many times as a little girl who dreamed of being a nurse when she grew up!!!

  7. nurse_wannabe

    I collect old nursing books! As a nursing student I often gaze at an old A & P for nurses which fits in the average pocket as I hoist my 2kg A & P textbook and think ‘I wish!!!!’. Love them all!

  8. I collect old bedpans, syringes, and any other old nursing items too. I have dressed my granddaughters up as nurses and have taken them to a photographer to have their pictures taken with the old bedpans, stethoscopes, and old an old doctors bag. The photographer made me a purse with the photo on it. It is adorable and I get lots of compliments on it.I love being a nurse!

  9. Deee

    I collect Cherry
    Ames books and Sue Barton books.

  10. drbrens Fan

    As a pharmacist who has previously been in business, I have several items I would like to sell. One of them is a Jones porcelain covered bedpan #350 new in box. Let me know if you are interested. I can send a picture. Thanks

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