Drawing of 18th century thumbscrew

Drawing of 18th century thumbscrew

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: 18th Century interrogation and punishment techniques. Diagram of a thumbscrew, used in Austria in the late 18th century. The subject (convicted petty criminal or person helping the police with their enquiries) would have their thumb inserted between the plates of the device. The pointed studs (D) were aligned with the base of the thumbnail. Pressure was applied by progressively tightening the nuts (F) with the lever (K). The main advantage to this device was that punishment could be given as soon as a confession had been extracted. This illustration is from the Austrian Legal Code of 1768.

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Keywords: device, early, historical, history of science, instrument, interrogation, technology, thumbscrew, torture

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