Funnel-web spider specimens in shipping container

Black and white photograph of funnel-web spider specimens in shipping container, marked “fragile: spiders”, with labels from TAA (Trans-Australia Airlines) Air Express. Funnel-web spider venom was a focus of the research by Dr Saul Wiener (1923 – 2010) whilst employed at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. The CSL issued appeals to the Australian public to send in spider specimens to aid in their research. In February 1957, a newspaper reported that Wiener hoped to develop the antivenom within six weeks. Two years later, however, Wiener admitted to the Melbourne Herald that research was “difficult because of the peculiar properties of the funnel-web spider’s venom.” The antivenom was eventually developed by Dr Struan Sutherland (1936-2002) and introduced in 1981.

History of object

Gifted by Fay Wiener, the widow of Dr Saul Wiener (born Germany 1923, died Australia 2010). Whilst employed at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, Dr Wiener made many contributions to the field of toxinology, including developing the redback spider antivenom, the stonefish antivenom, researching funnel-web spiders and Chironex fleckeri box jellyfish venom.
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Object detail

93 x 122 mm
Accession Number
Credit line
Gift of Fay Wiener, 2013
Associated Person
Named Collection
Medical History Museum Category


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