MEDICAL ANTIQUES ARCHIVES

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An exceedingly rare and superb c. 1660 antique shagreen and silver-mounted surgical instrument case with lid and end drawer.  The box is covered in shagreen and embellished with elaborately cut and engraved silver clasp and joints, a silver cartouche bearing the coat-of-arms of the United Barber-Surgeon's Company, and the initials I. (the Latinized- J.) F., also in silver. Two similar boxes with these arms, one of which is also initialed, are in the Wellcome Museum, and there are two examples in the collection of the Barber's Company.  This is the sum total of such shagreen silver-mounted Barber-Surgeon's Company boxes known to this dealer and his contacts.  A much lesser quality box of the type (minus the arms and thought to date to 1672) is in the collection of the Royal College of Surgeons and  it is pictured  in Bennion, p. 62. 

The United Barber-Surgeon's Company was first given a Royal Charter in 1540 by King Henry VIII.  According to some references, surgeons were held in such low repute at the time that the Fellowship of Surgeons considered it advantageous to join the more established Barber's Company.  As surgeons gained stature over the next two centuries, friction developed and the union was ended  when the Company of Surgeons was established in 1745.  A Royal Charter of 1800 transformed the Company of Surgeons into The Royal College of Surgeons.

The initials on the surgical instrument case are possibly those of Sir John Frederick (1601-1685), who was elected Master of the Company in 1654 and 1658.  He was a great patron of the guild, giving a 38 oz. silver baluster cup and BP100 towards the building of a new hall.  Sir John  became Lord Mayor of London in 1661.  Other than John Farre, Master in 1670, no other member of the Company had the initials J.F. and was a contemporary of the box. 

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A very rare c. 1835 antique minor surgery set by Peter Rose, New York.  The mother-of-pearl handles are exquisite. The calling card of Dr. Erasmus Darwin Hudson, Jr. (1843-1887), New York City, is attached to the lining of the lid.

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A c. 1820 Cuthbertson static electricity generator by Bancks, London. Note the adjustable spark gap on a glass column to the left.

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A very rare 1860s antique hypodermic syringe set by Tiemann, New York, and sold by Codman & Shurtleff, Boston.  The points are gilded.

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A rare cartes-de-visite of Reed Brockway Bontecou, Surgeon U.S. Volunteers, on the far right, with his staff and wives on horseback. Dr. Bontecou (1824-1907) is well known for the many photographs that he took of Civil War wounded while in charge of Harewood Hospital, Washington, D.C. This unusual albumen outdoor photograph came from Bontecouís personal Civil War collection of CDVs.

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C. 1880 uterine natural sponge dilating tents of three different sizes.

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An unusual c. 1870 medical dry cupping set that is finely cased with trade label and  fire-gilt brass lock  marked by Jenner & Knewstub, of 33 St. Jamesís Street, a rather high-end London company active in the 1860s-80s.  There is a double-E monogram on the leather-covered lid, and the name COOKIE. is gold-embossed on the interior lid velvet.  The hinges and corner braces are also fire-gilt.  The visual impact makes a most elegant presentation, and the set was clearly intended for use by an upper class doctor or household.  The cups are French-fitted and not loose in their individual compartments.  They also are  bigger than those typically found...the largest being 17 cm long.  The greater  the  volume of the cups, the greater the vacuum when heated.  The brass lamp retains its original snuffer.  This antique counter-irritation set was meant for dry cupping only and never contained a scarificator.

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A c. 1860 antique dental chest by H.G. Kern, Philadelphia.  Note the fancy mother-of-pearl instruments in the top section.

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A magnificent c.1800-1820 15 karat gold fob set with an intaglio cornelian seal of the profile bust of Asklepios with his staff and snake. The Hellenistic head of the Greek god of medicine is exceptionally well cut.

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A c. 1820 toothkey with Coromandel wood handle and two claws.

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A c. 1860 combination enema and stomach pump set by Evans, London. The enema pipes are ivory and the mouth gag is ebony.

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A c. 1880s photograph of Women's Ward 20, Bellevue Hospital, New York.  An inked legend along the bottom identifies the hospital doctors and nurses in the room.  The senior doctor is William H. Nammack, an 1886 graduate of Bellevue and House Physician, who holds a Cammann binaural stethoscope.  Dr. Witter K. Tingley, who was on the House Staff in 1888, is taking notes on Dr. Nammack's observations of a patient in bed.  Dr. Robert Alexander Murray, a specialist in the diseases of women and in obstetrics, is to the right and holding a book.  The photo bears the mark of the Bellevue Photographing Department. 

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An original c. 1890 antique photograph of Women's Ward 21, Bellevue Hospital, New York.  Note the presentation case of gynecological instruments placed at the center of the ward.  The image, which was taken by the Bellevue Photographic Department, measures 9 1/2 inches wide by 7 1/2 inches tall and is mounted on 14" x 11" cardboard. 

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An exceedingly rare c. 1875 Van Huevelís forceps-saw for dividing the head of the fetus from crown to base. The instrument is signed: A. AUBRY / Bt St. MICHEL, 6 / PARIS. This is thought to be an exhibition piece and the finest example known of this instrument. The fluted handles to the forceps, the adjustment screw, and the chain saw are made of ivory. Overall length is twenty-two inches.  Jean-Baptiste Van Huevel (1802-1883), of Brussels, invented the forceps-scie in the 1840s.  See Tiemann, 1889, p. 551, fig. 3818.

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A fine antique monaural stethoscope turned from wood.  It is probably a Walsh's model.

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An early nineteenth century Nuremberg microscope with the base maker branded: IM. The sliding optical tube is decorative paperboard and the fittings, including both lens caps, are stained fruitwood. The oak box-like base is similar to the Benjamin Martin microscope. The instrument is all-original, noting that the ocular lens is missing. See Turner, The Great Age of Microscopes, p. 205, fig. 211.

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A Civil War homemade medical box with a nineteenth century label stating: Charles E. White / carried ______(?) / War in 1862 /// Put up by his / mother E.G. White at Deerfield NH. Another later label in the same hand says: "Medicine Chest" / carried by / Charles E. White / in Civil War 1861&2. / Was at the Siege of Port Hudson. Inside are two bottles. One has a label that reads: Cherry B[ay]. / For Dysentery. Dose Teaspoonfull (sic) With Sugar Water. The second bottleís label says: Paregoric / Dose Half Teaspoonfull (sic) / With Sugar Water / Two or Three times a day. A roll of bandage with a paper Linen label and a small package marked Pum[ice] Ball are also found in the pine box. Charles E. White served in the 15th New Hampshire.

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