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

A  c 1860's J. H. Gemrig Surgical Set

J. H. Gemrig was a surgical instrument maker in Philadelphia, Pa. during 1840 to 1881 in various forms (alone, with his brother, and with his son).  During the Civil War, Gemrig was a major supplier of surgical sets under contract to the Union forces.  His company was located at 48 N. 6th from 1841 to 1844, at S. 8th in 1845, 43 S, 8th from 1846 to 1865, and 109 S. 8th from 1866 to 1880.

All dates are from the Directory of Makers and Dealers as listed by Edmonson in American Surgical Instruments: an Illustrated History:

Jacob H. Gemrig surgical instrument maker 1841-44: 48 N. 6th

1845: 49 S. 8th

1846-65: 43 S. 8th

1866-80: 109 S. 8th

This particular set dates between 1860-7.

The unslotted blade of the capital saw is indicative of a later design found during the 1860's.  Note there is no trephine provided with this set and the metacarpal saw is very small.  Compare this set to an earlier version Gemrig and note the variations.

The removable wood tray fits over the saws in the lower part of the case.  Note there is still the presence of two lateral swivel latches in addition to the center key lock.  The centered key lock is typical of commercial sets.

Compare this set with a slightly later version which has no tray, but compresses the same number of instruments into a smaller case without removable tray.

The tourniquet is marked 'Gemrig' as are all the other instruments.  The only piece missing is the small artery forceps.  Otherwise the set is 100% correct and matching.

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American Surgical Sets:

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American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques