James Gillingham was a shoemaker by trade, but found his real calling in 1866. That's when he met a man who had lost an arm in a cannon firing accident. Gillingham made him a new arm- for free.
The new leather limb he built was strong and rigid but also perfectly fitted. The medical world noticed his talent, and Gillingham soon began producing a variety of artificial limbs.
Using a secret process wherein he molded the leather to the client’s limb before hardening it, Gillingham started a business making prostheses.
By 1910, he had restored mobility and function to over 15,000 patients.
Not only did Gillingham make superior prosthetic limbs, he photographed many of his clients. His pictures appeared in medical journals, in which he advised surgeons on ways to amputate that would leave patients with more mobility in the future. Mashable has a collection of those photographs. Notice that the women in the pictures try to hide their faces, turning shy at the prospect of showing their limbs, while the men are proud to show off theirs. -via Everlasting Blort