Beautiful specimen certificate from the Campaign Against Tuberculosis
printed in 1955. This historic document was printed by Columbian Bank Note Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of Tuberulosis Christmas postage stamps. This item has the printed signature of the Company's Managing Director and is over 52 years old.
Tuberculosis (abbreviated as TB for Tubercle Bacillus) is a common and deadly infectious disease that is caused by mycobacteria, primarily Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis most commonly affects the lungs (as pulmonary TB) but can also affect the central nervous system, the lymphatic system, the circulatory system, the genitourinary system, bones, joints and even the skin. Other mycobacteria such as Mycobacterium bovis, Mycobacterium africanum and Mycobacterium microti can also cause tuberculosis, but these species do not usually infect healthy adults.
Over one-third of the world's population now has the TB bacterium in their bodies and new infections are occurring at a rate of one per second. Not everyone who is infected develops the disease and asymptomatic latent TB infection is most common. However, one in ten latent infections will progress to active TB disease which, if left untreated, kills more than half of its victims. In 2004, 14.6 million people had active TB and there were 8.9 million new cases and 1.7 million deaths, mostly in developing countries. A rising number of people in the developed world contract tuberculosis because their immune systems are compromised by immunosuppressive drugs, substance abuse or HIV/AIDS.
The rise in HIV infection levels and the neglect of TB control programs have enabled a resurgence of tuberculosis. Drug-resistant strains of TB have emerged and are spreading (in 2000-2004, 20% of cases were resistant to standard treatments and 2% were also resistant to second-line drugs). Promoted by WHO, the DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment or Directly Observed Therapy) strategy appears to be the primary factor explaining the differences in TB incidence rates cross-nationally (even after considering socio-economic factors), yet almost nothing is known ethnographically about the effectiveness of implementing anti-poverty programs in conjunction with the application of the DOTS TB control strategy program in regions of high TB and MDRTB incidence (resistant to “first line” drugs, isoniazid and rifampin), such as in the case of Peru or Bolivia. The World Health Organization declared TB a global health emergency in 1993, and the Stop TB Partnership proposed a Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis which aims to save 14 million lives between 2006 and 2015.
In the past, tuberculosis was called consumption, because it seemed to consume people from within, with a bloody cough, fever, pallor, and long relentless wasting. Other names included phthisis (Greek for consumption) and phthisis pulmonalis; scrofula, (in adults), affecting the lymphatic system and resulting in swollen neck glands; tabes mesenterica, TB of the abdomen and lupus vulgaris, TB of the skin; wasting disease; white plague, because sufferers appear markedly pale; king's evil, because it was believed that a king's touch would heal scrofula; and Pott's disease, or Gibbus of the spine and joints. Miliary TB is an archaic term that is still occasionally used, and is when the infection invades the circulatory system resulting in x-ray lesions with the appearance of millet seeds. This form of TB is now more commonly named disseminated TB.
In the patients where TB becomes an active disease, 75% of these cases affect the lungs, where the disease is called pulmonary TB. Symptoms include a productive, prolonged cough of more than three weeks duration, chest pain and coughing up blood. Systemic symptoms include fever, chills, night sweats, appetite loss, weight loss and paling, and those afflicted are often easily fatigued.
When the infection spreads out of the lungs, extrapulmonary sites include the pleura, central nervous system in meningitis, lymphatic system in scrofula of the neck, genitourinary system in urogenital tuberculosis, and bones and joints in Pott's disease of the spine. An especially serious form is disseminated, or miliary tuberculosis. Extrapulmonary forms are more common in immunosuppressed persons and in young children. Infectious pulmonary TB may co-exist with extrapulmonary TB, which is not contagious.
Tubercular decay has been found in the spines of Egyptian mummies. Pictured: Egyptian mummy in the British MuseumTuberculosis has been present in humans since antiquity. The earliest unambiguous detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is in the remains of bison dated 17,000 years before the present. However, whether tuberculosis originated in cattle and then transferred to humans, or diverged from a common ancestor, is currently unclear. Skeletal remains show prehistoric humans (4000 BC) had TB, and tubercular decay has been found in the spines of mummies from 3000-2400 BC. Phthisis is a Greek term for tuberculosis; around 460 BC, Hippocrates identified phthisis as the most widespread disease of the times involving coughing up blood and fever, which was almost always fatal. Genetic studies suggest that TB was present in South America for about 2,000 years. In South America, the earliest evidence of tuberculosis is associated with the Paracas-Caverna culture.
Before the Industrial Revolution, tuberculosis may sometimes have been regarded as vampirism. When one member of a family died from it, the other members that were infected would lose their health slowly. People believed that this was caused by the original victim draining the life from the other family members. Furthermore, people who had TB exhibited symptoms similar to what people considered to be vampire traits. People with TB often have symptoms such as red, swollen eyes (which also creates a sensitivity to bright light), pale skin and coughing blood, suggesting the idea that the only way for the afflicted to replenish this loss of blood was by sucking blood. Another folk belief attributed it to being forced, nightly, to attend fairy revels, so that the victim wasted away owing to lack of rest; this belief was commonest when a strong connection was seen between the fairies and the dead. Similarly, but less commonly, it was attributed to the victims being "hagridden"—being transformed into horses by witches (hags) to travel to their nightly meetings, again resulting in a lack of rest.
the first genuine success in immunizing against tuberculosis was developed from attenuated bovine-strain tuberculosis by Albert Calmette and Camille Guerin in 1906. It was called 'BCG' (Bacillus of Calmette and Guerin). The BCG vaccine was first used on humans in 1921 in France, but it wasn't until after World War II that BCG received widespread acceptance in the USA, Great Britain, and Germany.
Tuberculosis, or 'consumption' as it was commonly known, caused the most widespread public concern in the 19th and early 20th centuries as an endemic disease of the urban poor. In 1815, one in four deaths in England was of consumption; by 1918 one in six deaths in France were still caused by TB. After the establishment in the 1880s that the disease was contagious, TB was made a notifiable disease in Britain; there were campaigns to stop spitting in public places, and the infected poor were "encouraged" to enter sanatoria that resembled prisons; the sanatoria for the middle and upper classes offered excellent care and constant medical attention. Whatever the purported benefits of the fresh air and labor in the sanatoria, even under the best conditions, 50% of those who entered were dead within five years (1916).
Public health campaigns tried to halt the spread of TBThe promotion of Christmas Seals began in Denmark during 1904 as a way to raise money for tuberculosis programs. It expanded to the United States and Canada in 1907-08 to help the National Tuberculosis Association (later called the American Lung Association).
In the United States, concern about the spread of tuberculosis played a role in the movement to prohibit public spitting except into spittoons.
In Europe, deaths from TB fell from 500 out of 100,000 in 1850 to 50 out of 100,000 by 1950. Improvements in public health were reducing tuberculosis even before the arrival of antibiotics, although the disease remained a significant threat to public health, such that when the Medical Research Council was formed in Britain in 1913 its initial focus was tuberculosis research.
It was not until 1946 with the development of the antibiotic streptomycin that effective treatment and cure became possible. Prior to the introduction of this drug, the only treatment besides sanatoria were surgical interventions, including the pneumothorax technique—collapsing an infected lung to "rest" it and allow lesions to heal—a technique that was of little benefit and was largely discontinued by the 1950s. The emergence of multidrug-resistant TB has again introduced surgery as part of the treatment for these infections. Here, surgical removal of chest cavities will reduce the number of bacteria in the lungs, as well as increasing the exposure of the remaining bacteria to drugs in the bloodstream, and is therefore thought to increase the effectiveness of the chemotherapy.
Hope that the disease could be completely eliminated have been dashed since the rise of drug-resistant strains in the 1980s. For example, tuberculosis cases in Britain, numbering around 50,000 in 1955, had fallen to around 5,500 in 1987, but in 2000 there were over 7,000 confirmed cases. Due to the elimination of public health facilities in New York and the emergence of HIV, there was a resurgence in the late 1980s. The number of those failing to complete their course of drugs is high. NY had to cope with more than 20,000 "unnecessary" TB-patients with multidrug-resistant strains (resistant to, at least, both Rifampin and Isoniazid). The resurgence of tuberculosis resulted in the declaration of a global health emergency by the World Health Organization in 1993.
History from Wikipedia and OldCompanyResearch.com.
About Specimen Certificates
Specimen Certificates are actual certificates that have never been issued. They were usually kept by the printers in their permanent archives as their only example of a particular certificate. Sometimes you will see a hand stamp on the certificate that says "Do not remove from file".
Specimens were also used to show prospective clients different types of certificate designs that were available. Specimen certificates are usually much scarcer than issued certificates. In fact, many times they are the only way to get a certificate for a particular company because the issued certificates were redeemed and destroyed. In a few instances, Specimen certificates were made for a company but were never used because a different design was chosen by the company.
These certificates are normally stamped "Specimen" or they have small holes spelling the word specimen. Most of the time they don't have a serial number, or they have a serial number of 00000. This is an exciting sector of the hobby that has grown in popularity over the past several years.