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An articulated wood and leather prosthetic leg of a Slovenian soldier wounded in World War I (1917)

A pegleg is a prosthesis, or artificial limb, fitted to the remaining stump of a human leg. Its use dates to antiquity.[1]

By the late 19th century, prosthetics vendors would offer peg legs as cheaper alternatives to more intricate lifelike artificial legs.[2] Even as vendors touted advantages of more complicated prostheses over simple peg legs,[2] according to a contemporary surgeon, many patients found a peg leg more comfortable for walking.[3] According to medical reports, some amputees were able to adjust to the use of a peg leg so well that they could walk 10, or even 30, miles in one day.[4]

Nowadays, wooden peg legs have been replaced by more modern materials, though some sports prostheses do have the same form.[5]

Notable peg leg wearers

Pegleg of Józef Sowiński





  1. Cantos, Mae (2005) "Pirates & Peg Legs: a Historical Look at Amputation and Prosthetics" In: Whitelaw, William A. (2005) (editor) Proceedings of the 14h Annual History of Medicine Days Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, pp. 16–20, OCLC 225558769, page 16
  2. 2.0 2.1 Marks, George Edwin (1888), A Treatise on Marks' patent artificial limbs with rubber hands and feet, A. A. Marks, p. 47<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Tillmanns, Hermann (1895), Stimson, Lewis Atterbury (ed.), itle The principles of surgery and surgical pathology: general rules governing operations and the application of dressings, D. Appleton and company, p. 128<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Teale, Thomas Pridgin (1858), On amputation by a long and a short rectangular flap, pp. 29, 31<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Clarke, Carl D. (1965) Prosthetics Standard Arts Press, Butler, Maryland, OCLC 5083790, page 182
  6. "...he lost his leg at Saint Martin.."
  7. Mason, Christopher (21 September 2000) "At Home with Christopher Gibbs: A Parting Embrace For a Lifetimes Quirks" The New York Times, page 2 of electronic copy; for full details see Poole, Steve (2000) The politics of regicide in England, 1760-1850: troublesome subjects Manchester University Press, Manchester, England, pages 169-172, ISBN 0-7190-5035-9

Further reading


  • Murdoch, George and Wilson, A. Bennett (1998) A primer on amputations and artificial limbs C. Thomas, Springfield, Illinois, ISBN 0-398-06800-3
  • Pitkin, Mark R. (2009) Biomechanics of Lower Limb Prosthetics Springer verlag, New York, ISBN 978-3-642-03015-4
  • Seymour, Ron (2002) Prosthetics and orthotics: lower limb and spinal Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ISBN 0-7817-2854-1
  • Warren, D. W. (2001) James Gillingham: surgical mechanist & manufacturer of artificial limbs Somerset Industrial Archaeology Society, Taunton, England, ISBN 0-9533539-5-8