American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

Surgical Set collection from 1860 to 1865 - Civilian and Military

Civil War:  Medicine, Surgeon Education & Medical Textbooks

 Dr. Michael Echols  &  Dr. Doug Arbittier


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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, and various TV programs, Antiques & Collecting publications

 George Tiemann's 1880's Catalog: Amputation Saws

 Drawings showing the styles of amputation saws listed both during the Civil War and after


In the 1830-50 period, amputation saws were much larger as were the amputation knives and handles.  ‘Beefy’ is the word you hear about the sizes of the blades and especially the handles of the knives.  For some unknown reason about 1859-60, the handles and blades were made much smaller by Tiemann & Co. to the point of being dainty, as is the ‘Parker’ ‘D’ handled amputation saw.   Surgical sets from Tiemann 1859-60 are almost delicate, compared to earlier and later instruments.  It was a ‘phase’ due to someone requesting a smaller blade or a smaller handle on the saw. 


See a comparison between two Tiemann 1855 to 1861 surgical sets

See a comparison of various surgical sets and their saws in this collection


Union Medical Department surgeon Richard Satterlee was in charge of the design of the Medical and Hospital Department surgical sets during the Civil War.  Judging by the varied specifications, the first year, 1861, was a free for all for the instrument makers other than those who had supplied  sets to the Medical Department before the war.  As the Civil War progressed, the size and heaviness of the handles and blades increased dramatically under Satterlee’s direction and the Hospital Department purchases.  (If you were to go through the collections on this web site, you would easily see this by comparison.)  Most likely this size increase was due to the size of the men in the Army who specified the surgical sets at the time and the need for heavy use.  Purchases were made via the medical purveyors who sent the specifications to the instrument makers via the New York and Philadelphia military medical purveyor offices. 


There is a whole section on the website about the medical purveyors and what they did. 


The capital amputation saws made during the war are ‘manly’ and big as are the amputation knives and handles during the war.   Maybe Satterlee had big hands, who knows.  Someone was ordering  small saws immediately before the war, so they had to fit their hands.  Big hands, big saws, little hands, little saws.  (It is said the famous English surgeon, Liston, had huge hands, thus his huge amputation knives.) 


Bottom-line: no one knows if Satterlee was the one who 'approved the small Parker style saw.  If he did, it was in use just before and during the early part of 1861, but the smaller size went out of favor until the 1880’s when small delicate sterilizable amputation saws were again in vogue through the turn of the next century. 


Ref. Edmonson’s book on American Surgical Instrument makers prior to 1900 has lots of information on this topic of variations in all kinds of instruments and the purchases during the Civil War.


Click to enlarge image



Medical Antiques Index

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques Index

Contact Dr. Arbittier or Dr. Echols



Civil War Medical Collections 


Direct links to all medical & Civil War collections on this site                         

American Surgical Sets:

Pre-Civil War:  1 | 2  -   Post-Civil War:  3  -  Civil War 1861-1865:  4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   INDEX

Medical Text-Books:

1 | 1a | 2 | 2a | 3 | 3a | 4 | 4a | 5 | 5a | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 9a | 10 | 11 | 12    INDEX

Surgeon General's Office Library printed catalogues: 1840 | 1864 | 1865
Medical Lecture Cards: 1 | 2 | 34 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21    INDEX

Medical Faculty and Authors:


Navy Surgeon Exams:

1863 Navy Surgeon Applicant Exams with Biographies   INDEX ONE | INDEX TWO

Surgeon CDVs, Images:

Army: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8    INDEX

Navy: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   

Hosp Dep't Bottles, Tins, 

U.S. Army Pannier:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

Please request permission before commercial use or publication of any content or photos on this site and credit any use with:  "American Civil War Surgical Antiques"   All content and all original photography on this Web Site is copyrighted 1995 - 2015 and may not be used on any other web site or in commercial print without the expressed e-mail permission from Dr. Arbittier:  Contact   All rights reserved. 


Students doing reports or projects are welcome to use the content of this site without permission, but credits would be appreciated.


Please note: information on this site may not be normally referenced as this is an active and long-term educational research project.  Personal notes may not be properly cited for publication.  Various articles are digitally reproduced under the 'fair-use act' of the copyright laws and are intended for educational purposes only.  Many citations are from Google digital 'books' and can be traced backwards via a search of a unique string in the citation.


 Arbittier Museum of Medical History Tour:   1 | 2 | 3


Last update: Monday, December 12, 2016