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, Antiques & Collecting publications, and various TV programs

Identification of Civil War Military surgical sets

 U.S. Army Hosp. and Medical Department (Dept.)

By Dr. Michael Echols

Here are some major indicators to help you identify an American (NOT European or English) Civil War or earlier military surgical set: First, it will be in a wood case.  Second, among the primary indicators are bilateral brass sliding latches on the front of the case and it may have an engraved brass plate (plaque, cartouche) on the top of the case.  The brass plate may or may not be engraved with 'U.S.A Hosp'l Dept. or U.S.A. Medical Department' or some variation of those words. 

Federal military issued sets will NOT have the surgeon's name on the brass plate, the set belonged to the Army, not the surgeon.  Post War military surplus may be missing the brass plate or have a replaced plate with a surgeon's name or dedication. 

There is generally no key or key hole, just sliding latches to lock the case.  However, I have seen a few sets with both sliding latches and keys.  The interior will be lined in velvet (red, purple, tan, green, blue, depending on the age and maker).  With any luck, there will be a trade label stuck inside the case with the maker name and address.  The name and address are the keys to dating any set, especially Civil War sets.  In some cases, the large instruments are marked with 'U.S. Army (U.S.A.) Hosp. Dept.' or the makers name and address.  See examples of Civil War instrument maker labels.

Extensive discussion on identification of military sets and their owners

Read an analysis of another Civil War set with unusual history and how it was determined

What you really need to know about buying Civil War surgical sets

Civil War Union surgical set cases made of mahogany wood, with sliding military inlayed brass latches

Military style inlayed sliding brass latch with brass re-enforcements at the corners of the mahogany case.  (See an example of Chrome or plated latches which are much later.)

   Left Latch                      Right Latch

Bilateral military all brass latches on the front of the case and no key hole, an engraved brass plate on the top of the mahogany case. (Both military latches and a keyed lock are very rare, but do exist)

The brass plate on the top of the case may or may not marked "U.S.A. Hosp'  Dept" or "U.S. A Medical Department."

    usamedicaldept.jpg (99019 bytes)  

(Be aware, there are sets with fake engravings on the brass plate.  For additional information on engraved cartouches see this article

Surgical instrument makers during the Civil War:

These are the maker names you would expect to find on instruments in sets made during or for the Union during the Civil War under contract from the U.S. Army Medical Department  or  U.S. Army Hospital  Department.  You should not see a mix of these names in any one set during the Civil War era and none of the instruments will have all metal handles.   All the names in a given set should be the same.  Generally speaking, Medical Dept. sets are more likely to be earlier than Hospital Dept. marked sets.  Medical Dept. marked sets cover a longer time frame: before, during, and after the Civil War, but there some Hospital Department sets seen that are pre-War.  (The Hospital Department was a division of the Medical Department in the Union Army.)

Tiemann, Hernstein, Otto, Reynders, Gemrig, Kern, Snowden, Kolbe, Helmold, Kuemerle, Leypoldt, Teufel, Wirz, Wiegand, Snowden, Codman, Shurtleff, Rees, Wade, Ford, Wocher, Brinkerhoff.

 

Circular No. 7. Surgeon General's Office,  ( May 7, 1863)
ALLOWANCE OF SURGICAL INSTRUMENTS FOR MEDICAL OFFICERS,  FOR STAFF SURGEONS AND ASSISTANT SURGEONS.

FOR CAPITAL OPERATIONS

Two Amputating Knives, one long, one medium.
Two Catlings, one long, one medium.
Four Scalpels.
One Cartilage Knife.
One Capital Saw, long, bow, two blades.
One Metacarpal Saw.
One Chain Saw.
One Hey's Saw.
One Trephine, conical.
One Trephine, small crown.
One Bone Forceps, Liston's long, sharp, spring handle.
One Bone Forceps, broad-edged, slightly curved, spring handle.
One Bone Forceps, gnawing, spring handle.
One Bone Forceps, sequestrum, spring handle.
One Artery Forceps.
One Artery Needle.
One Artery Needle Key.
Twelve Surgeon's Needles.
One Tourniquet Screw, with pad.
One Tenaculeum.
One Scissors.
One Chisel.
One Gouge.
One Mallet.
Four Drills, (with one handle.)
Two Retractors.
One Raspatory.
One Elevator.
One Brush.
Twelve yards Suture Wire, iron.
One ounce Ligature Silk.
One ounce Wax.
One Mahogany Case, brass bound, slide catch.
One Leather Pouch.

FOR MINOR OPERATIONS.

One Amputating Knife.
Three Scalpels.
Two Bistouries.
One Hernia Knife.
One Finger Knife.
One Artery Forceps,
One Bail Forceps.
One Gullet, Forceps.
One Dressing Forceps.
One Dissection Forceps.
One Artery Needle.
One Artery Needle Key.
Twelve Surgeon's Needles.
One Tenaculum.
Two Scissors.
One Trocar and Canula.
One Belloc's Canula.
One Bullet Probe.
One Director.
One Cutting Pliers, small.
Six Steel Bougies, silvered, double curve,
Nos. 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6, 7 and 8, 9 and 10, 11 and 12.
Three silver Catheters, Nos. 3, 6, and 9.
Six Gum-elastic Catheters, Nos. 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11.
Twenty-four Suture Pins, silvered.
Six yards Suture Wire, iron.
One ounce ligature Silk. ,
One ounce Wax.
One Mahogany Case, brass-bound, slide catch.
One Leather Pouch.

FOR THE POCKET CASE

One Scalpel.
Three Bistouries.
One Tenotome.
One Gum Lancet.
IVo Thumb Lancets.
One Razor, small.
One Artery Forceps.
One Dressing Forceps.
One Artery Needle.
Six Surgeon's Needles.
One Exploring Needle.
One Tenaculeum.
One Scissors.
One Director.
Three Probes.
One Caustic Holder.
One Silver Catheter, compound.
Six yards Suture Wire, iron.
One ounce Ligature Silk.
One ounce Wax.
One Russia Leather Case.

One Leather Trunk for the set.

FOR REGIMENTAL SURGEONS AND ASSISTANT SURGEONS.

FOR THE FIELD CASE.

Two Amputating Knives, one long, one medium.
Two Catlins, one long, one medium.
Three Scalpels.
Two Bistouries.
One Hernia Knife.
One Finger Knife
One Capital Saw, long, bow, two blades.
One Metacarpal Saw.
One Key's Saw.
One Trephine, conical.
One Bone Forceps, broad-edged, slightly curved, spring handle.
One Bone Forceps, sequestrum, spring handle.
One Artery Forceps.
One Ball Forceps.
One Dressing Forceps.
One Dissection Forceps.
One Artery Needle.
One Artery Needle Key.
Twelve Surgeon's Needles.
 

Pocket Case, the same as

One Tourniquet, screw, with pad.
One Tenaculeum.
Two Scissors.
Two Retractors.
One Trocar and Canula.
One Raspatory.
One Elevator.
One Brush.
One Bullet Probe.
One Director.
Six Steel Bougies, silvered, double curve,
Nos. 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6, 7 and 8, 9 and 10, 11 and 12.
Three Silver Catheters, Nos. 3, 6, 9.
Six Gum-elastic Catheters, Nos. 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11.
Twelve yards Suture Wire, iron.
One ounce Ligature Silk.
One ounce Wax.
One Mahogany Case, brass bound, slide catch.
One Leather Pouch.

Allowed to Staff Surgeons

CONTENTS OF THE SETS OF INSTRUMENTS AND APPLIANCES REFERRED TO
IN THE STANDARD SUPPLY TABLE.

1. The dissecting case.

One Cartilage Knife.
Three Scalpels.
One Tenaculeum.
One Dissection Forceps.
One Chain and Hooks.
Two Needles and Thread.
One Enterotome.
One Scissors.
One Blowpipe.
One Chisel.
Mahogany Box.

2. The obstetrical case.

One Simpson's Forceps.
One Vectis or Lever.
One Crochet and Blunt Hook.
One Perforator.
Russia Leather Case.

3. The pocket case for hospitals.

One sharp-pointed Bistoury.
One probe-pointed Bistoury.
One Scalpel.
One Tenaculeum.
One Abscess Lancet.
One Compound Catheter.
One Straight Scissors.
One Angular Scissors.
One Dressing Forceps.
One Artery Forceps.
One Spatula.
One Director.
Two Probes.
Six Needles.
Ligature Silk and Wax.
Russia Leather Case.

4. The teeth extracting case.

One Key with three Hooks.
Two Forceps for Molars.
One Forceps for Bicuspids.
One Forceps for Incisors.
One Gum Lancet.
One Stump Elevator.
Russia Leather Case.
 

A number of Civil War sets for comparison and identification

1860 to 1865 surgical set photos

Display 1: (c. 1860-1865 )  |  Display 2: (c. 1860-1865

 Display 3: (c. 1860-1865 )  |  Display 4: (c. 1860-1865 )

 


Pre- and post- Civil War sets to compare with Civil War sets

1820 to 1888 surgical set photos

  Display: (c. 1800-1840 )  |  Display:  (c. 1840-1860 )  |  Display:  (c. 1866-1888 )

 

Also see examples: Evaluating Civil War pocket surgical kits

A typical large Civil War field operative surgical set which would have been used in 1862-1865, there are smaller and more specialized sets, not shown on this page.  See the Displays above for more sets.

Upper tray:

1.  Bone dust brush

2.  Amputation saw

3.  Handle for small trephine

4.  Trepanning scalpel

5.  Hey saw for trepanning

6.  Gouging bone chisel

7.  Trepanning elevator

8.  Straight end bone chisel

9.  Trepanning bone rasp

10 & 11. Chain saw handles (2)

12. Olive arterial forceps

13. Bandage or tissue scissor

14. Trephine head (small)

 

Lower tray:

15. Chain saw blades

16. Bone holding forceps

17. Liston Bone forceps (heavy)

18. Bone forceps

19. Set of bone drills (4) with handle

20. Liston knee curve cutting forceps

21. Bone chisel mallet

 

Removable tray:

22. Handle for large trephine

23. Trephine head (large)

24. Tourniquet (brass frame) w/strap

25. Set of muscle retractors (2)

26. Needles, suture, bone wax compartment

27. Aneurysm needle holders

28. Scalpels, Bistouries, tenaculeum

29. Amputation knives, catlin, finger saw

30. Spare bone saw blade

 

Numbers in yellow correspond to list on left

 

Click image to enlarge

Civil War issue surgical set

Full details and additional photos of above set

The instruments below would be expected to be found in a larger Civil War field set as they are unique to the problems confronted during War time or were typically found in Civil War surgical sets

 

         Buck's rectal trocar      Male urinary staves or sounds

                 Chain saw for bone resection    Bullet forceps (various types)                 

Contents as detailed by the U.S.A. Medical Department for Civil War surgical sets 1861, for early sets

Contents as detailed by the U.S.A. Medical Department for Civil War surgical sets 1862, for later sets, see below:

(1) The Capital Operating Case contained: 2 amputating knives (one long, one medium), 2 catlings (one long, one medium), 4 scalpels, 1 cartilage knife, 1 capital saw (long, bow, two blades), 1 metacarpal saw, 1 chain saw, 1 Hey's saw, 1 trephine (conical), 1 trephine (small crown), 1 bone forceps (Liston's long, sharp, spring handle), 1 bone forceps (broad edged, slightly carved, spring handle), 1 bone forceps (gnawing, spring handle), 1 bone forceps (sequestrum, spring handle), 1 artery forceps, 1 artery needle, 1 artery needle key, 12 surgeon's needles, 1 tourniquet screw with pad, 1 tenaculum, 1 scissors, 1 chisel, 1 gouge, 1 mallet, 4 drills (with one handle), 2 retractors, 1 raspatory, 1 elevator, 1 brush, 12 yards suture wire (iron), oz. ligature silk. 1/8 oz. wax, 1 mahogany case (brass bound, slide catch), 1 leather pouch.

(2)
The Minor Operating Case contained: 1 amputating knife, 3 scalpels, 2 bistouries, 1 hernia knife, 1 finger knife, 1 artery forceps, 1 ball forceps, 1 gullet forceps, 1 dressing forceps, 1 dissection forceps, 1 artery needle, 1 artery needle key, 12 surgeon's needles, 1 tenaculum, 2 scissors, 1 trocar and canula. 1 Belloc's canula, 1 bullet probe, 1 director, 1 cutting pliers (small), 6 steel bougies (silvered, double curve, Nos. 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6, 7 and 8, 9 and 10, 11 and 12), 3 silver catheters (Nos. 3, 6, and 9), 6 gum-elastic catheters (Nos. 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11), 24 suture pins (silvered), 6 yards suture wire (iron), oz. ligature silk, 1/8 oz. wax, 1 mahogany case (brass bound, slide catch), 1 leather pouch.

(3)
The Pocket Case contained: 1 scalpel, 3 bistouries, 1 tenotome, 1 gum lancet, 2 thumb lancets, 1 razor (small), 1 artery forceps, 1 dressing forceps, 1 artery needle, 6 surgeon's needles, 1 exploring needle, 1 tenaculum, 1 scissors, 1 director, 3 probes, 1 caustic holder, 1 silver catheter (compound), 6 yards suture wire (iron), oz. ligature silk, 1/8 oz. wax, 1 Russia leather case.

(4)
The Field Case contained: 2 amputating knives (one long, one medium), 2 catlings (one long, one medium), 3 scalpels, 2 bistouries, 1 hernia knife, 1 finger knife, 1 capital saw (long, bow, two blades), 1 metacarpal saw, 1 Hey's saw, 1 trephine (conical), I bone forceps (broad edged, slightly curved, spring handle), 1 bone forceps (sequestrum, spring handle), 1 artery forceps, 1 ball forceps, 1 dressing forceps, 1 dissection forceps, 1 artery needle, 1 artery needle key, 12 surgeon's needles, I tourniquet screw with pad, 1 tenaculum, 2 scissors, 2 retractors, 1 trocar and canula, 1 raspatory, 1 elevator, 1 brush, 1 bullet probe, 1 director, 6 steel bougies, silvered, double curve (Nos. 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6, 7 and 8, 9 and 10, 11 and 12), 3 silver catheters (Nos. 3, 6, and 9), 6 gum-elastic catheters (Nos. 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11), 12 yards suture wire (iron), oz. ligature silk, oz. wax, 1 mahogany case (brass bound, slide catch), 1 leather pinch; pocket case the same as allowed to staff surgeons.

A list of military surgical set instrument details from the Tiemann catalog

A list of instruments found in Civil War surgical sets from Frank Hamilton's Civil War surgery textbook

Civil War maker labels as found in 61-65 sets

Be sure to read this short article on the Truth about Civil War Surgeons by Dr. Jay Bollet

There are multiple areas on this site about Civil War surgery sets...use the search and site map below to find them

 

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:

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

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

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Last update: Monday, December 12, 2016