Sankel: a dog’s tale

Written by on July 10, 2013

Articles have been appearing recently in the  media and on the College website reflecting on sixty five years of the  National Health Service (founded 5 July 1948).   Pre the NHS hospitals had to think of imaginative ways of fundraising.  The Glasgow Eye Infirmary, founded in 1824 by ophthalmologist Dr William Mackenzie had the very special help of Sankel, a retriever dog.  Sankel was owned by Messrs J. and A. Caldwell, glaziers in Charlotte Street, Glasgow and the money was collected by Sankel from visitors entering the workshop.  People were so impressed by Sankel’s fundraising ability that in 1883 ‘a few friends’ clubbed together to buy Sankel a special dog collar ‘for his clever performance and likewise contribution’. Sankel appears to have been a very intelligent dog – not only did he raise money but his owners used to send him with messages to neighbouring shops, from whence he apparently returned promptly and with the correct change.

Dog collar worn by Sankel

Dog collar worn by Sankel

Inscription on Sankel's collar

Inscription on Sankel’s collar

Sankel’s dog collar is now  one of the more unusual items in the College’s museum collection.  It, along with brass plaques for endowed beds and a fundraising poster show how the Glasgow Eye Infirmary was able to raise funds.

Fundraising poster n.d. first half 20th century

Fundraising poster n.d. first half 20th century

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The College’s heritage collections – including thousands of medical and surgical instruments, rare books, archives, and pictures – span over 6 centuries and are an excellent resource for exploring the history of medicine and the history of the city of Glasgow. Many items from the collections have been digitised and are available to view here. Our digitisation work is ongoing, and we add new items to the site regularly, so keep checking back to discover more.

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