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

Civil War, c. 1864, Geo. Tiemann Three Tier Capital Surgical Set 

The firm of George Tiemann Company, New York, was at the 67 Chatham St., New York address, shown on the maker label, from 1863 / 1864 until 1871.  This information in itself is not the sole reason to date the set at the earliest date range.  The style of the instruments, shape of the knife blades,  and the style and presence of the brass bands on the mahogany case point to the earliest date for this address.  This three tier with removable tray set was made during in the Civil War for civilian or state militia consumption. 

You will see these sets at auctions and attributed to ownership by U.S. Army surgeons, especially surgeons in the state volunteer militias of the Northeast as the set is configured for field surgery, with a bullet forceps and other instruments for more extensive surgery than the typical civilian surgeon would encounter.

George Tiemann & Co. (George Tiemann, Frederick A. Stohlmann, and Edward Pfarre) surgical instruments

1855-63/64: 63 Chatham and 44 Eldridge

1863/64-71: 67 Chatham and 44 Eldridge *

Compare the mahogany case (16.5 x 4.25 x 5.75 in. lined with red velvet) of this set to a slightly earlier 1860 set.  Note the brass  banding on the case.

Also, note the shape of the amputation blades of the two sets.  The delicate size and down curved shape of the amputation blades is typical of 1860 sets by Tiemann.  Down curved blades are typically immediately pre-Civil War and during the first year of the war.   Thin, light handled, down curved blades are very typical during the transition from the heavier handles and blades of early 1850's to the start of the Civil War when Army contracts specified heaver blades that were straight and the handles again much heavier.  This kind of set was put up by  Geo. Tiemann through out the Civil War along side their U.S. Army military contract orders.

The maker marks for Tiemann vary in this set as is typical for this era:  Tiemann; Tiemann & Co.  (See the introduction page 64 of the Tiemann catalog for a discussion of the various markings used during a given time frame.)

The ' pistol grip' style of the Parker capital saw is typical of later Tiemann Civil War sets which is consistent with the 67 Chatham address.

The trephine has an early style beautifully turned horn handle, the Galt's style crown of the trephine is tapered and blued which would date the trephine to only as early as 1860 (page 92, Edmonson).  All instruments are original to the set and the set came from a family in the northeast about ten years ago.  It has never been in the hands of a dealer or another collector.

Click on images to enlarge

Civil War era maker trade label for Geo. Tiemann



Removable tray


Click on images to enlarge



29 individual pieces make up this set



Tourniquet and heavy tissue retractors



Above: changeable suture needle tips and handle



Above left: Galt trephine;  Right: Parker style capital saw



Above left middle: (American) Bullet Forceps (fig. 1365 Tiemann catalog)



Above and below: four variations of Tiemann markings found in this set


Bandage material folded on cardboard



Needles, silver wire, and silk thread suture material on a glass spool

There are three instruments which are curiously not marked Tiemann or Tiemann & Co.  They are marked Kulman & Co.  The three are the metacarpal saw, which fits perfectly in the case slot (see photo below) and matches the other checkered instruments. The other two instruments have smooth hexagonal ebony handles and fit perfectly in the lift-out tray. One with removable tips for suturing, the other with a cutting edge tip (see photo below).  Both instruments fit perfectly in the slots. 

According to Edmonson, Kulman & Co. (Detroit, Michigan) did not exist until 1869, but the elder August Kulman was listed in business during 1867.  It  is entirely possible Kulman was supplying Tiemann with these instruments prior to this time.  His location prior to 1867 is unknown.   None of the instruments appear to be replacements because they fit 100% in the given slots, but the presence of the pieces is curious for a Tiemann set.  (Dates and maker information from Edmonson's book:  American Surgical Instruments: an illustrated history)



Close-up to show fit and mark of three Kulman instruments

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American Surgical Sets:

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American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques