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

Snowden & Brother, Civil War Military Capital Surgical Set

Note: Capital sets with four tiers are obviously larger than small three tier sets.  Capital sets would have been used in rear areas or hospitals.

Snowden & Brother (George and Henry) were one of the major suppliers to the U.S. Army before and during the Civil War.  This four tier capital set with military latches is from during the later years of the War.  The marking 'Snowden & Brother.' at N. 5th, occurs only during and four years before the War. 

The brass cartouche appears to have been ground down and polished.  It is not unusual to find a blank brass name plate to have been reversed or altered after the War to hide the ownership.  Surgeon's or a dealer may not have wanted anyone to know their set came from the Army and turned the brass plate over.  The brass plate is wavy and there are two brass pins in place as is the Snowden field set on this site.  I have only seen this pinning on Snowden sets. More than likely this is a U.S. Army Medical Dept. issued set as it is almost exactly like the other Medical Department set on this site.

Obviously the set is missing a few parts, (bone saw, bullet forceps, scalpels, drill points, etc.) ,but it is what it is and the way it was found.  There is no question about it's origins or intended use given the presence of the heavy bone cutting forceps, bullet forceps, male sounds, and military latches.  Some of the instruments may have been replaced with those from another similar set as was the custom during the war.  It is documented in the General Orders that If parts were lost or broken, more were ordered or replace, possibly from other sets that were returned to the storekeepers.  Given how valuable and the limited supply of these sets, they were well maintained.

Snowden & Bro. (George P. [1832-?] and Henry C. [1838-?] Snowden become partners I July 1858; William Snowden [1840?] becomes partner I January 1866; Henry C. retires in May,

1872 and sells interest to George) surgical instrument makers

1858-64: 15 N. 5th

1864-72: 23 S. 8th


A typical Civil War military mahogany case with brass sliding latches


The engraving has been ground off the brass plate.  Snowden & Brother maker label with the No. 15 North Fifth St. address



Composite of all instruments in the set

Lifting-back metacarpal saw


Cross-leg artery forceps


Heavy duty cartilage knife



A small delicate trocar with point cover and drain


Tenaculeum and two bistouries



Silver suture wire, bone wax, silk and straight cutting suture needles



Handle for a Brainard bone drill, (missing the drill tips)



 One heavy retractor, marked Snowden


Director for a knife and tissue forceps


Set of heavy bone forceps



2 urinary track sounds. 3 silver catheters, 2  French gum catheters with ivory collars


Snowden & Brother's pre-War (1860) catalogue shows they were importers of French gum catheters



Saw blade to use to check for correct capital saw



Hey saw, trephine with handle, bone brush,

  Crown of the trephine and Snowden mark on the Hey saw


Typical Civil War years blued cast iron buckle, red & white woven strap and unmarked brass frame tourniquet


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American Surgical Sets:

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American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques