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

Reynders Post 'Civil War' Surgical Set by Tiencken an Evaluation

An evaluation by Dr. Michael Echols

This is really a very interesting evaluation I did for a person who contacted me via the website for an 'unknown' Civil War surgical set which was labeled by "Reynders", but had "Tiencken" marked instruments. 

When trying to decide if a surgical set is 'Civil War' or not, there are several key indicators you have to define to accept or reject the set as having been produced for Civil War use by one of the known U.S. Army providers under contract.  In this case, the set is absolutely military contract configuration, but is not marked in any of the usual ways, (e.g., U.S.A. Hosp'l Dept. on the large instruments or engraved as such on the brass plate) as one would expect for an Army issue set.   The mahogany, brass bound case is typical military configuration with bi-lateral sliding latches and no key.

The configuration of instruments is dead-on for a military set (rectal trocar, gullet forceps, male sounds, bullet forceps, Satterlee style bone forceps, etc.), but the maker label is not for a known contract supplier during the Civil War (Reynders) and most important, the maker label address (308 Fourth Ave.) address is post-Civil War during the 1870's for Reynders & Co.  All the marked instruments are by Tiencken, who was a minor contract supplier during the War for the Union Army Medical and Hospital Departments.  His address and the time frame when he was in business coincides with the dates of the Civil War, unlike Reynders.  This is information that would be found in Edmondson's book on the History of the American Instrument Makers.

So, what is the story?  Toward the end of the War, apparently the Medical Department cut back on orders for surgery sets and most of the major makers over-produced.  This led to a surplus of military configured sets left-over at the end of the War and they were sold to re-sellers at auction, civilian surgeons, or surgeon's departing the Army.  This is one of those surplus sets that was never delivered to the Army or used by the Army.  It was most likely bought at auction from Tiencken's sugical instrument business and then re-sold by Reynders in their retail business. 

The civilian doctor's name engraved on the brass place is testimony to the fact the U.S.A Hospital Department or Medical Department never owned this set.  Otherwise, during the War, it would be engraved for the U.S.A. Hospital Department and the larger instruments may have been similarly marked.

The name of the doctor/owner engraved on the brass plate is: Jason Parker, MD
The American Medical Association list of Deceased Physicians shows information on Jason Parker:

 

Name:                Jason Parker

Death date:        Nov 25, 1922

Place of death:   Jamestown, NY

Type of practice: Allopath

States and years of licenses:NY, 1902

Places and dates of practices:Jamestown, NY, 1879

Medical school(s):           Bellevue Hospital Medical College,

New York, 1879, (G)

 

The fact Dr. Parker graduated from Bellevue Hospital Medical College in 1879, obviously eliminates him as a Civil War surgeon.  He must have bought the set during or after the time he was in medical college.  At that time, medical college

was only about two years.

 

Maker information from Edmonson's book on the History of American Surgical Instruments

John Reynders 1875-77: 309 Fourth ave. 1878: 303 Fourth ave.

 

John Reynders & Co. (John and Charles Reynders; John Reynders sells to Charles Reynders and William Harz) surgical, veterinary, and orthopedical instruments; skeletons and anatomi­cal preparations

1879-82: 303 Fourth av

1883-85: 303 Fourth av and 164 W. 27th

1886-1900: 303 Fourth av and 314 E. 22d

 

Julius Tiencken, 1863-1872  

 

1863:4 Astor place

1865: 142 Attorney

1871-72: h. IlO W. 29th surgical instruments

 

Click on any image to enlarge

The maker label in the inside top of the set showing Reynders & Co. with the post-1875 address

A typical double sliding latch mahogany military case with engraved brass plate

 

  

 

  

 

A typical Civil War 'field' surgical set configuration with three sections, one removable tray

 

Tiencken,  N.Y., marked sets are wanted for this collection... complete or partial sets and instruments

 

     

Some of the instruments above are not original to this set (scalpels with all metal handles, and the ivory handled eye instruments

Tiencken's mark on an amputation knife

The bottom-line is this is a true Civil War contract military surgical set made during the Civil War, but never issued to the military, or U.S. Army Medical Department or Hospital Department.  It is war surplus sold to a doctor after the War by a post-War instrument maker in New York, who most likely purchased it from the original maker Tiencken who was a contract supplier during the Civil War for the Army Medical Department.

Photos courtesy of Charles Spivak

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American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques