comparison of 1829 to 1886 and Civil War Forceps
by Dr. Michael Echols
This article is a survey of 40 plus
surgical medicine sets in this collection
ranging from 1820's to 1886 to demonstrate the various forms and designs of bone
forceps. The various photos can be used to determine the approximate age
of unknown forceps and to illustrate the changes in design through the 1800's.
Unfortunately, bone forceps are the most often missing item in surgery set.
I suspect that is due to the usefulness of the cutting forceps for a wide range
of materials and thus their removal by someone other than a doctor. The
same can be said for scissors.
Remember, these instruments
were custom fitted to the cases and should fit precisely to the velvet lined slots.
The form of the head and type of handles of the forceps can be very helpful in
determining the era or maker. Most heavy duty forceps are imprinted with
the maker name and city. NONE of these instruments are stainless steel or
chrome plated because those processes did not exist until post 1880's.
If you see flaked chrome plating...it's post-1880 to be sure.
Click on images (from this
collection surgical sets) to enlarge
c. 1829 Rose bone forceps
c. 1840 J. H. Gemrig bone forceps
c. 1850 M. Wocher bone forceps
c. 1846 Goulding U. S. Army Hospital Dept. bone forceps
c. 1850 Martin bone forceps (top) and muscle retractor
c. 1850 Geo. Tiemann bone forceps (top)
c. 1850's J. H. Gemrig bone forceps. Satterlee's design,
typically used in the early years of the Civil War.
c. 1855 J. Teufel bone forceps
c. 1863 Wade and Ford bone forceps from a civilian issue set,
typically used later during the Civil War and into the late1870's
c. 1861-64 Tiemann U. S. Army Hospital Department Civil War
issue bone forceps which are in a field surgery set.
c. 1861-64 Kolbe' U. S. Army Hospital Department Civil War
issue bone forceps which are in a bone resection set for hospital
These are standard issue for the Hospital Department to their
c. 1865 Hernstein, U. S. Army Hospital Department Civil War
issue bone forceps which are in a bone resection set.
prime examples of the type and design of bone forceps one
could expect in Hospital Department sets from the Civil War era.
They may vary by maker, but the design is similar due to the
Hospital Department specifying what they wanted in a given set for
c. 1861-64 Hernstein, U. S. Army Hospital Department Civil War
issue bone forceps from a small field set.
c. 1868 Gemrig bone forceps and metacarpel saw
c. 1870's Shepard and Dudley,
and post Civil War as Shepard and Dudley never made instruments
marked with their name during the Civil War
c. 1870 Gemrig bone forceps from a resection set
c. 1860's J. H. Gemrig bone forceps
c. 1870's Kern bone foreceps
c. 1870's Aloe & Hernstein bone forceps
c. 1880 Gemrig bone forceps
c. 1880's Sharp & Smith bone forceps and a director (top)
c. 1886 Helmond bone forceps
Below: Civil War bone forceps, early and later examples
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