believe this is a very early (first few months of 1861) and historically
significant Civil War partial set, which was issued by the Union Army at the very
beginning of the War. It carries the marking of the U. S. Army Hospital
Department markings on some of the instruments, which would eliminate it being a
Medical Department issue.
H. Hernstein, of New York,
was located at 393 Broadway, New York city, N.Y., during the Civil War, he produced surgical sets
before, during, and after the Civil War period. Hernstein was a
contract maker for field surgery sets from the start and until the end of the
Hermann Hernstein surgical instruments
1844: Elizabeth cor.
1845-48: 7 Hague
1850: no listing
1851-52: 68 Duane
1853-54: 81 Duane
1855-57: 81 Duane
and 393 Broadway
1858: 81 Duane, 131
Mercer, and 393 Broadway 1859-61: 131 Mercer and 393 Broadway
Hermann Hernstein & Son (Hermann and Albert L. Hernstein) 1862-65:
131 Mercer and 393 Broadway
Hermann Hernstein & Son & Co. 1865:
2 Liberty and 393 Broadway
Hermann Hernstein & Co. 1866-67: 2 Liberty and 393 Broadway
There are a number of
reasons for my thinking this set is early 1861 and prior to the more organized
issuance of standardized sets by various makers:
- The embossed eagle on the retention partition
is typical of U.S.A. Hosp. Dept. sets from Hernstein.
- The early French
influenced design of the missing saw is from the 1850's. The handle
and style of the saw image is after those by French maker Charriere (Edmonson,
- The open loop-back, rather than
circular finger hole, handle on the bullet forceps is an 1850's design.
The circular finger hole design predominates post 1861.
- The ivory handled minor
surgery instruments carried into the Civil War from the 1850's.
- The lack of an engraved brass plaque
/ cartouche on the lid
indicating U. S. Army Hospital Dept. contract.
- The presence of the roughly
struck "U.S.A. Hosp. Dept" marking on the bone forceps. Here is
an example of a later strike on the same
instrument, showing a neater organized strike. The name of H. Hernstein on
the obverse side is neat and organized by contrast.
- I would
assume Hernstein put this set together with existing inventory early in the War and thus it is
not standardized as were later sets, which were specified by the Department of the
Of particular curiosity is the raised ebony
egg shaped oval inlayed in the lid, rather than the expected
oval or rectangular engraved brass cartouche / plaque. This ebony piece is about a quarter of an
inch high and fits perfectly in the plaque oval. I suspect it was
something that would be replaced on later sets by the typical engraved brass
plaque. The height of the ebony piece would prevent stacking of sets on
top of one another.
The (16 x 6 3/4 x 4 1/2
in.) mahogany case is
typical military issue with sliding latches and no key lock. There are no brass
screws as are seen on later military sets, but the corners pieces are there for re-enforcement as is normal for
There are three levels of the purple velvet lined case: lid with removable
partition, removable tray, and the lower section for urological related
instruments. There is a similar, but slightly later set in the
color plate 7 (right) of Edmonson's book which shows the more organized changes
expected for the production sets.
Any help in finding
missing instruments to complete this historically important set would be
appreciated and well compensated.