American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

Surgical Set collection from 1860 to 1865 - Civilian and Military

Civil War:  Medicine, Surgeon Education & Medical Textbooks

 Dr. Michael Echols  &  Dr. Doug Arbittier


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American Civil War Surgical Antiques

Research and Identification

Civil War Era Surgical Sets, Surgeon's Images

Civil War Surgeon Education & Medical Textbooks

Established 1995    .     Dr. Michael Echols Collection


As seen in:  Warman's Civil War Collectibles, Antique Week, Northeast Antiques, and various TV programs, Antiques & Collecting publications

Mental Games in Collecting High-grade Medical Antiques

Dr. Michael Echols

Mental collecting games:

When confronted with making a high-end medical antique purchase, I have a number of mental tests which I run to determine if I really want to make the buy or not. They are:

When was the last time I saw one of these and what is the likelihood I'll see another one? (Dangerous test if you are a beginner and think everything is rare!) After you collect for a while and build up contacts among other collectors, the feeling that you will see another piece again is more positive. The longer you collect, the more you understand what is really rare and what is not. There are lots of items out there still in the hands of non-collectors.

If I pass on this, can I find another one in the same condition? (Mental masturbation at best.)

Is it really something I will enjoy in my collection? (Do you get warm and fuzzy feelings?) With the passage of time, we all tire of parts of our collections. Today's passion is tomorrow's trader. It happens.

Do I want to go off in another collecting direction, or stay on the path I have decided upon? (One tends to collect that which is available.  Do what works for you.  Adapt.)

Am I going to get mad at myself if I let this pass? (Who among us has not kicked him or herself for passing on a piece because "it cost too much", only to later wallow in regret?) There will be another, but the test is when and how much will it cost next time around.

Is the price out of line with my experience or that of other collectors of a like mind? (One doesn't want to pay too much and be seen as "stupid" by ones' peers? On the other hand, stupid today maybe smart tomorrow!) Always pay a premium for quality. You never go wrong with the best.  (I will keep repeating this mantra.)

How many survived? Is it really rare? (Experience is the only teacher. When you first begin collecting, everything is rare because you don't know how many are available.)

Is this a fad buy? Will this "hot area" pass and should I just wait until the demand dies down? (One or two competing collectors can drive the prices on a limited supply and when they drink their fill, the price will drop like a rock. . A few competing collectors can drive the price through the roof but once they finish their collections, prices settled back down as calmer collectors re-enter the market.)

Is the item worth a premium to obtain at this time? (If it is a rare and a once in a life time opportunity to fill a hole in the collection...just do it!  That post-purchase depression gradually fades after a while....I hope.)

How many people collect this item? (If you and two other guys are the only ones collecting a given item, don't overpay for the right to own it.) If you are the only person collecting a given item, then you have to think twice about being held up for a high price. Where else are they going to sell it?

Is this item so unique that no one else would want it but me? (A collectible is not a good investment unless other people want it.) Yes, I realize that the pure of heart collector doesn't really care, but at the levels which items go for these days, you have to weigh the cost vs. return on investment equation.

And finally, how am I going to get out of this item if and when I want to move it to another collector or dealer? (Is it a good investment? Is there a market for the item?) Quality will always move. As long as you have the best available, you won't have to apologize when it comes time to sell.

Knowledge is your best advisor:  buy books!  Study before you buy.

Medical Antiques Index

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques Index

Contact Dr. Arbittier or Dr. Echols



Civil War Medical Collections 


Direct links to all medical & Civil War collections on this site                         

American Surgical Sets:

Pre-Civil War:  1 | 2  -   Post-Civil War:  3  -  Civil War 1861-1865:  4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   INDEX

Medical Text-Books:

1 | 1a | 2 | 2a | 3 | 3a | 4 | 4a | 5 | 5a | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 9a | 10 | 11 | 12    INDEX

Surgeon General's Office Library printed catalogues: 1840 | 1864 | 1865
Medical Lecture Cards: 1 | 2 | 34 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21    INDEX

Medical Faculty and Authors:


Navy Surgeon Exams:

1863 Navy Surgeon Applicant Exams with Biographies   INDEX ONE | INDEX TWO

Surgeon CDVs, Images:

Army: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8    INDEX

Navy: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   

Hosp Dep't Bottles, Tins, 

U.S. Army Pannier:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

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Students doing reports or projects are welcome to use the content of this site without permission, but credits would be appreciated.


Please note: information on this site may not be normally referenced as this is an active and long-term educational research project.  Personal notes may not be properly cited for publication.  Various articles are digitally reproduced under the 'fair-use act' of the copyright laws and are intended for educational purposes only.  Many citations are from Google digital 'books' and can be traced backwards via a search of a unique string in the citation.


 Arbittier Museum of Medical History Tour:   1 | 2 | 3


Last update: Monday, December 12, 2016