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, Antiques & Collecting publications, and various TV programs

Evaluating Medical Books You Want to Sell

Topics: evaluating, Medical textbooks, Civil War medical books, Antique medical books, Rare medical books

Pre-1865 medical textbooks marked  'U.S. Army Hospital or Medical Department, USA Hosp. Dept., USA Medical Dept.


The principle differentiation for a Civil War era medical book from any other medical book is topic, author, dates published, publisher, who ordered the books published, i.e. the U. S. Army Medical or Hospital departments, and the condition. 

 See: Collecting Civil War medical books

See for current values

First and foremost, TAKE digital photos of your book.  Without photos of the outside covers, the spine, and title pages, it is almost impossible to evaluate a book.  Look at these various photos to get an idea of what one needs to see to help you:

Click on any image to enlarge

The details on the title page are extremely important and must be in focus to be readable, I have to be able to see the author, publisher and above all the date of publication

The hinge of the front cover should be visible, as well as the outside of the covers (boards) and the spine with the name.  Show any defects or damage to pages such as water stains.  See a list of defects below.

Book evaluations and valuations are very subjective.  Just because a book is 150 years old doesn't mean it can't be in very good or fine condition.  Age is not an excuse for poor condition, but abuse is.  If a book has been left in a wet and unprotected environment (a basement) for years, it's going to be in pretty poor condition as opposed to it having been carefully preserved in a library.  Values vary greatly due to rarity, condition, authors, topic, version, date, etc.  We can discuss all this if you provide the digital or print photos of your books.   

Condition Description Definitions of pre-1865 books 

FINE: Not crisp. May have been carefully read and covers may have been slightly rubbed or spine ends slightly bumped from shelving/shipping, but no real defects or faults.   19th century or earlier, slightly more signs of usage are tolerated, but still a well-cared-for, fresh looking book — very minor rubbing , very minor fading of cloth or color of boards, but no cracked hinges, a few specks of foxing, nothing missing — no missing endpaper, half-title or spine labels. In both the 20th century and the earlier book, there should not be any library markings (public or institutional), however there may be a bookplate from a private collector

VERY GOOD: A used book showing some small signs of wear on either binding. Any defects/faults must be noted.  19th century or earlier, minor rubbing of extremities is expected, no chipping (missing material) at top or bottom of spine, no signs of major fraying of cloth, no cracked hinges or cracked joints, possibly minor spots of soil or stain and occasional foxing (rust colored spots) is expected — nothing should be missing, no missing endpaper or half-title. A very good copy can be ex-library with library markings, but should be so described and with few exceptions the ex-library copy would not be a desirable book to add to your collection

GOOD: The average used and worn book that has all pages or leaves present. Any defects must be noted.  An earlier book showing average use and wear, but not in need of a replacement binding, not all tattered & torn, not with moderate to heavy damp stain, basically still intact but worn, spine extremities can show minor chipping, corners can all be bumped, and (there is disagreement here) in the case of an earlier book a free endpaper, or other blank page such as a flyleaf, can be missing, a hinge can be cracked ( the book should not be in need of recasing — with the covers barely attached), there can be moderate to heavy foxing in earlier books, a good copy should be a book that has seen average/considerable use and is added to your collection because you care more about the content of the book than the condition or you hope someday to upgrade to a better copy of the same book

FAIR: A worn book that has complete text pages (including those with maps or plates) but may lack endpapers, half-title page, etc. (which must be noted). Binding, cover etc. may also be worn. All defects/faults must be noted. A fair copy may exhibit moderate to heavy dampstain, excessive stain or foxing in the text, a very tattered cloth or very scuffed and rubbed leather binding with additional problems such as underlining in the text, lacking endpapers, both hinges cracked, heavy dogearring of page corners — in general only a step above a reading copy and not a desirable copy unless you value content much more than condition

POOR or READING COPY: A book that is sufficiently worn that its only merit is the complete text, which must be legible. Any missing maps or plates should still be noted. May be soiled, scuffed, stained, or spotted, and may have loose joints, hinges, pages, etc. 

EX-LIBRARY: Must always be designated as ex-library such no matter what the condition of the book. Most of these old library books have the white marking ink on the spine of the book and cards or pockets on the inside from library usage.  It really hurts the value of the book greatly due to abuse and use over many years and ex-library books are not wanted for this collection.

Book size:

Height, width, and thickness of the book.  (i.e. 5 x 7 x 1/2 in.)

Describing defects:

  • Bumped edges or corners bent. Someone set this book down too hard on one or more of its corners or edges is bent or broken.
  • Foxing or foxed. Light brown or rust colored spotting on the pages.
  • Scuffed or rubbed marks on the covers (boards) of the book that look a lot like the scuff marks on shoes, but usually not so severe.
  • Cut and loose leather or cloth covering.
  • Water stains.  Irregular water marked pages or covers of the book.  Mildew may be present too, if so it should be noted.
  • Detached pages or missing pages.
  • Shaken pages.  Groups of pages are loose or out of alignment from the binding, usually due to the back of the binding being loose.  There are splits in the gutter between pages.
  • Broken hinge.  The page is broken down in the gutter so you can see into the spine of the book.  See examples at bottom of this page.
  • Chipped or missing parts of the spine (back edge of the book on which the name is printed)

                  Front edge                 Top edge          Front board or cover and Spine

The front or back 'board' and the front or back 'cover' are interchangeable terms


Gutter or hinge        Title page   


Water stain along side of title page


Scuffing of exterior leather cover


Pages separated

Broken hinges

Broken front hinge

Page split from binding

Water stain at bottom of board    


Missing or chipped top edge of spine

Insect damage on spine and edges of a cloth covered textbook


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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:

Medical Faculty and Authors:

1 | 2 | 34 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21    INDEX


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

Alphabetical index of all research and study pages:

Index Page One  |  Index Page Two  |  ARTICLES INDEXES

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques