Expanded Photos of Cased Surgical Sets

Cartwright ivory surgical set ca 1850

This rare and complete surgical set was made by John Cartwright. The address of the company when this set was made was 83 Wood St. in Pittsburgh, Pa. That narrows down the date of manufacture from 1847-1850. The handles of these instruments are heavy ivory. The handle of the capital amputation saw is particularly unusual and beautiful. It is feathered and still has a great "feel." The instruments are substantial. This is in direct contrast to the Cartwright instruments featured on page 296 of "American Surgical Instruments" by Edmonson. There, he shows a catlin and small amputation saw from the same period by Cartwright. He describes them as "examples of poorly crafted American instruments, featuring faux-ebony handles, which are far too light weight and make the pieces unwieldy, and poorly finished metal. Cartwright was obviously capable of much better! Interesting also is the fact that there are at least 5 different name stamps featured on the instruments in this set. The maker was obviously quite proud of his achievement, as almost every piece is marked.  This set was apparently purchased by a physician in Pittsburgh in the late 1840's who then moved to California and promptly died. This could account for the fine state of preservation of the instruments.

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Last update: Monday, December 12, 2016