By Dr. Michael Echols
Sometimes it is difficult to peg the date of a given Civil War medicine saw, but if it is in the context of a surgical set, with a maker label, and other instruments, (especially the blade and handles of the knives), it helps with the decision. When purchasing a human medical saw outside of a surgical set, it can be difficult to exactly peg the date, even with the maker name. The following American maker sets are listed from early to later. The idea is to associate the saw in the context of the other instruments and labels in the set as well as an address on the label. The other little piece of information is to know WHEN the maker was in business and that information is sometimes in Edmonson's book, or from Dr. Echols.
See similar articles on dating tourniquets, saws, bone forceps, forceps, or amputation knives.
Typical Civil War amputation saws
Identification of Civil War Military surgical sets: USA Hosp. and Medical Dept.
Various saw names and styles from the 1880's Geo. Tiemann catalog
This is not 'all' types of saws seen in Civil War surgical sets, just 'typical' 1862-65.
All saws and instruments are from Dr. Echols' personal collection
|c. 1829 Geo. Tiemann, N.Y. Note the pistol trigger style, which is very European. This is one of the earliest Tiemann style of saw.|
|c. 1829 Rose. Note the hook on the handle of the saw. Similar to English styles of the period. Knife blade of top knife is curved down, blunt tipped and the handles are large and heavy.|
|c. 1840 Wocher, Ohio. Note the round handle saw butt. Similar to English and French styles of the period. Knife blades are curved down, with blunt tips, handles are heavy and large.|
|c. 1840 Gemrig. Note the split butt of the saw handle. The knife blades are down curved, blunt tipped, and very heavy handled. Common into the 1850 time frame.|
|c. 1846 Goulding. Note this saw has a brass frame and handle with the split butt handle, but is similar in design to the Rose above. Transitional knives, some slightly curved, most are straighter than earlier blades.|
|c. 1850's Tiemann. "D" shaped handle on the saw. Note the vertical slots in the blade for bone dust relief. Knife blades are now straight, no curves and the handles are much smaller.|
|c.1850's Parker 'D' style handles. The upper saw is by Martin, Albany, N.Y., and the lower is by Tiemann, New York City, N.Y. The upper is the later design, c. 1855-60, without the vertical slots, the lower ivory handled 'D' saw is earlier, c. 1845-55.|
|c. 1864 Tiemann. Saw handle is typical of military and civilian issue during and after the Civil War. This form of pistol handle and blade was common by various makers into the 1880's. The knife blades are long and slim, no longer thick, curved or heavy.|
|c. 1860's Tuefel. More of a early European or French style of handle with the pistol trigger feature. Knives are long, slightly wider blades, and straight. The bone forceps are the earlier Satterlee design from the 1860's.|
|c. 1861- 64 Hernstein, N.Y. Typical Civil War military style set by a supplier to the Union Hospital Department.|
|c. 1861- 64 Hernstein. Smaller Civil War military set made for the Union Hospital Department. Note the open frame of the saw and removable blade. Two blades are shown. Satterlee style bone forceps.|
|c. 1861- 64 Gemrig U. S. Army Hosp. Dept. marked open bow saw|
|c. 1861- 64 Kolbe. Another style of open bow frame saw with removable blade. Clearly a military issue set by a major Civil War maker.|
|c. 1863 Tiemann Civil War issue Hosp. Dept. set. Note the circle in front of the saw handle, which shows up after the War into the 1870's.|
|c. 1861 Wade & Ford, N.Y. Civilian issue set made during early days of the Civil War. Handle is English style, similar to Hutchinson. The bone forceps are the later Liston type. Amputation knives are still 'beefy' and heavy size.|
|c. 1876 Gemrig. Long straight knifes. Hog leg handled saw. Liston bone forceps.|
|c. 1870's Shepard and Smith, Liston bone forceps, hog-leg handled saw, large straight amputation knives. The syle of the frame is similar to a Goulding brass frame saw, but Shepard and Smith NEVER produced surgical instruments during the Civil War. NEVER!|
|c. 1880 Aloe and Hernstein. Note the Civil War influence on the design of the saw (circle in front of the handle), which can be deceiving. Metal is plated. Liston bone forceps.|
|c. 1883 Sharp and Smith. Again that Civil War looking saw with the pistol grip and circle forward of the handle was made into the late part of the century. Deceptive if you are just looking at the saw and not the label in the set which accurately dates the set. Sharp and Smith were NEVER instrument makers during the Civil War. Since sterilization began in the 1870's, one has to wonder why this obviously non-sterilization set was was produced into the 1880's.|
|c. 1880's Helmold. An earlier looking shape to the saw, but again the maker label and the other instruments indicate a later date. Without the label address for Helmold, this would be a difficult set to date because of all the Civil War left-over designed instruments.|
All of the above instruments and photos are part of this collection and may not be reproduced elsewhere without permission of the owner
Contact Dr. Arbittier or Dr. Echols
Last update: Monday, December 12, 2016