J. H. Gemrig was
a surgical instrument maker in Philadelphia, Pa. during 1841 to 1880 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 109 S. 8th from 1866 to 1880.
After 1881, sets are labeled J. H. Gemrig & Son at the 109 S. 8th address.
The label in this
set dates this particular set to the 1865 to 1880 time frame. 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
The handles of
the capital saw and single amputation knife are detachable and stored separate
from the blades. The metal is plated on the handle attachment.
The tourniquet is
marked 'Gemrig' as are all the instruments. The metal of the
tourniquet is plated.
To error on the
safe side, we'll date this set 1880, but it could be earlier by a couple of
according to Edmonson (page 281), electroplating was widespread in the late
1860's and early 1870's. Nickel plating began in 1876. This
set is nickel plated.)
crown is blued and the later, post 1860 Galt type. The heavy ivory handled
neurosurgical scalpel has the early cross hatched style handle, is marked
'Gemrig', and fits precisely in a given slot in the scalpel section.
The case measures
4 3/4 x 7 x 11 inches, has brass bands and may be made of Walnut judging by the
grain. The whole case fits in a leather carrying case.
Missing is one
long tissue forceps, a small scissors, and an artery forceps.
This set was
acquired from a non- collector in Pennsylvania in whose family the set has
resided for a number of years.
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photo to enlarge