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

   1863 Wade and Ford Civil War Surgical Set

Owned by: Josiah Howell Culver, M.D.,  U.S. Army,  U.S. Navy

Documented set owned by a Civil War Federal Army and Naval Asst. Surgeon

William Ford and George Wade joined forces to start an instrument business during 1861 as Wade and Ford.  The business was located in New York at 85 Fulton from 1860 - 1866.  They worked with Dr. James R. Wood, a surgeon, on the design of this type of surgical set.  This information is from Edmonson's:  American Surgical  Instruments: an illustrated history:

Wade & Ford (George Wade and William E Ford) 1860-66: 85 Fulton

(Edmonson notes that 'following the Civil War, Wade & Ford ceased to exist, page 82)


William E Ford & Co. (William E Ford and George Gilman)

1866-71: 85 Fulton


Above is an entry in Hamilton's book on surgery showing he devised set specifications for the U. S. Navy (Click to enlarge)  Notice the information immediately below the drawing of a surgery set, which is most likely from an earlier period noting the banding style and keyed lock, which would not be military issue)

Also see Federal Navy surgical set owned by Lewis Whiting, M. D.

On display is a Civil War-date general operating set as designed by James R. Wood, M.D. (1813-1882), in conjunction with the firm Wade & Ford (1860-1866), New York.  For a discussion of this collaboration, see Edmonson, pp. 80-81.   Also see the diagram of this type set as illustrated in the Civil War Hand-book of Surgical Operations, 279 pages, 1862, by Stephen Smith (1823-1922)

The brass cartouche on the lid is engraved: J. H. Culver / 1863.  Josiah Howell Culver, M.D. (1837-1868), an 1863  graduate of  the Medical University of the City of New York:

Josiah Howell Culver was born at Moriches Suffolk County New York September 10th 1837 and after a suitable preliminary education commenced his medical studies in his native place graduating at the New York University Medical College in 1860 Having abandoned what he intended to be his establishment at East Hampton Long Island for the military service he was appointed in September 1862 an Acting Assistant Surgeon United States Army and assigned to the David's Island Hospital New York Harbor.   Here he remained until March 1863 when he entered the United States Navy his brilliant examination having secured him the first rank in a class of twelve.   From his first station at the Naval Hospital Brooklyn he was ordered to Charleston on board the Philadelphia, the flag ship of the South Atlantic blockading squadron.  While on the line of duty he suffered from severe debilitating pulmonary hemorrhages from the consequences of which he never fully recovered although his health was apparently benefited by sick leaves and short residences in Minnesota and Florida.  Much to his regret he was placed on the retired list in July 1867 and slowly declining after much suffering he breathed his last on September 25th 1868  (Transactions of the American Medical Association.  Vol. XXI, 1870, pg 497-8.)

See Culvers' actual written exam for admission to the U. S. Navy in 1863

Evolution of the University of the City of New York, Department of Medicine

1841 - University Medical College organized as the Medical Department of the University of the City of New York

1861 - Bellevue Hospital Medical College Founded

See the commencement notice for Culver at New York University in 1863, address by none other than Dr. Valentine Mott.

From the December 1879, second edition, Alumni Association, Page 91:


Josia Howell Culver, Melville, Long Island, N.Y.  Graduated, Bellevue, 1860

A. A. Surg.  U.S.A., 1862 -1863.

Asst. Surg. U.S.N. March 1863. 

Placed on retired list on account of ill health, July, 1867.

Died Sept. 25, 1868."

Josiah H. Culver was commissioned a United States Navy assistant surgeon in March of 1863, which means he was trained at the Bellevue Hospital Medical College and New York University, and then served in the Navy beyond the Civil War until 1867 when he was retired. 

Dr. Culver served on the Federal Navy steamer 'Philadelphia' as an assistant surgeon.  Dr. Culver may have received the set at the time of his commission in 1863.  The source for this documentation is the List of Officers of the Navy of the United States and the Marine Corp from 1775 to 1900.

Assistant Surgeon Josiah H. Culver served on Federal Navy Steamer 'Pawnee',    Additional information on the 'Pawnee' during the Civil War.  He also served on the Civil War Federal Navy South Atlantic Blockading Squadron: Steamer 'Philadelphia', 1865 

Additional information on the 'Philadelphia" during the Civil War.

Acting Master, George H. Avery.
Acting Ensigns, George R. Bailey, George Edwards, E. R. Davison, John B. Starr, and Charles D. Duncan.
Assistant Surgeon, Josiah H. Culver.
Assistant Paymaster, Horatio L. Wait.
Engineers: Acting First Assistant, Robert Mulready; Acting Third Assistants, Chas. T. Wamaling, and John Ryan.

NAVY GAZETTE REGULAR NAVAL SERVICE ORDERED:  March 14 Assistant Surgeon J. H.  Culver to the Princeton

The United States army and navy journal and gazette of the regular ..., Volume 3

May 19, 1866 DETACHED:  Assistant Surgeon Josiah H Culver from the Princeton and placed on sick leave.

A notice in the New York Times, July 23,1867 shows Assistant Surgeon Josiah H. Culver has been placed on the retired list in the Navy Gazette.  Dr. Josiah Culver and Mary Conkling Culver (he was a US Navy doctor) lived in Wainscott, N.Y.

Click on any photo to enlarge

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mvc-344s.jpg (55995 bytes)

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Set open with divider (left) in place and removed (right)


Drawing from Smith's Civil War Surgery manual and a lecture ticket for James R. Wood, MD at Bellevue, 1864-65, who recommended the lay-out of this set

mvc-334s.jpg (49204 bytes)  mvc-335s.jpg (43794 bytes)

Center tray removed to show eye-surgery instruments below


mvc-336s.jpg (48326 bytes) 

Capital saw removed to show neuro-surgery instruments below

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Note the small cast brass prong frame and hinged brass prongs


  mvc-343s.jpg (28703 bytes)


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American Surgical Sets:

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American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques