Sir Joseph Verco’s Ophthalmoscope

This 1870’s ophthalmoscope sits in a purpose built leather case, lined with blue velvet and taffeta. A strip of braid on inside the lid contains a large (5cm) convex lens. The ivory and brass handle, detaches by a screw thread at the base to enable storage in the case. Two lenses are of different strengths to focus the disc and five small lenses to roughly correct the vision of the examiner.

Dr (Sir) Joseph Verco purchased the ophthalmoscope from Curry & Paxton London, while working at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, as a dresser in the eye wards.

Dr Joseph Cooke Verco was an Honorary Physician at the Adelaide Hospital and Lecturer in Medicine. He received his medical education in the United Kingdom and had a distinguished student career at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. After qualifying, he was a Resident Medical Officer at St Bartholomew and Guy’s Hospital. In 1876 he became M.D. (London) and, in 1877, F.R.C.S. England. He returned to Adelaide in 1878, where he initially worked as a general practitioner.

Sir Joseph Verco, 1920

In 1880, he became an Honorary Medical Officer at the Adelaide Hospital and was also Honorary Physician at the Adelaide Children’s Hospital. Associated with the Adelaide Medical School from conception, Dr Verco was also the founder and the first Dean of the Dental School.

In 1919 a knighthood was conferred on Dr Verco. In 1919, Dr Verco received a knighthood, the first South Australia awarded such an honour for medical and scientific services.

By Margot Way, CALHN Health Museum