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Phossy Jaw


1669 Phosphorus discovered by Hennig Brandt in 1669


1845 Phossy Jaw first reported (22 known cases) in Europe


1852 Dickens wrote an article (52 cases in Germany/14 in Manchester)

1861 Bryant and May factory opened


1872 Finland was the first to ban white phosphorus, then Denmark (1874),

France (1897),  Switzerland (1898), Netherlands in (1901)


1891/93/95 Factory Acts demanded notification of phossy jaw cases


1898 Bryant and May fined in court for “systematic neglect”


1898 Chief Inspector of Factories reported 21 cases


1891 the Salvation Army opened a match factory near Bow:

  • Produced safe red phosphorus

  • Paid workforce around twice the usual rate

  • Matches called ‘Lights in Darkest England’

  • Survived 10 years before they were bought out by Bryant and May


1901 Bryant and May announced they would stop using white phosphorus


1906 Berne Convention, requiring prohibition of manufacture, importation, and sale of matches with white phosphorus

  • UK delegate, under instruction from the Government, abstained from signing


1908 White Phosphorus Matches Prohibition Bill passed in the UK with 2 year grace period, i.e. 01/01/1911

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