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SURGEON’S CASED POCKET INSTRUMENT SET - SHARP & SMITH OF CHICAGO:  This surgeon’s pocket instrument set, manufactured by Sharp & Smith of Chicago, is the type commonly carried by the doctor on his rounds, or when away from his office due to its convenient size.  This set can be fairly easily dated through the address listed on the maker’s label on the inside of the leather case. 

As listed in the Directory of Makers and Dealers in American Surgical Instruments: an Illustrated History by Edmonson, Sharp & Smith were in business at 100 Randolph Street, Chicago, Illinois from 1876 through 1882.  Further, the tortoise shell handles on the instruments indicate this set was likely manufactured prior to the 1880’s when American surgeons began to demand all metal instruments with chrome plated handles that could be fully sterilized rather than the porous natural material that had been previously used for instrument handles. 

This cased set measures 5” long, and 2” wide and 1 Ľ” thick when closed.  When opened, the case measures 6 ˝” long with leather loops and pockets to hold the instruments and other surgical materials.  The red Moroccan leather case bears the fully legible and complete maker’s label in embossed gold leaf.  The case was certainly carried on a daily basis by the doctor, as evidenced by the wear as can be seen in the photographs, but the case still retains its form.  

The instruments contained in the set are as follows:

*  A pair of forceps marked “Bain & Brinkhoff, NY” on the pivot.

*  A large pair of tweezers, unmarked

*  A sectioned catheter with threaded ends on each section, unmarked.

*  A tortoise shell handled folding scalpel, marked “Whitford” under a crown stamp, perhaps an English made instrument.

*  A horn handled thin bladed scalpel, marked “Sheppard and Dudley”.

*  A horn handled probe, marked “Bain & Brinkhoff, NY”.

*  A full metal scalpel, unmarked.

*  A small leather envelope, matching the leather from which the outer case is made, containing suture needles and thread. 

Although this surgeon’s pocket set has seen use, it serves as a lasting testament to the necessities of a 19th Century surgeon, perhaps the one man in a frontier town who stood between survival and slipping away into eternity after a violent encounter.  This set would be an interesting addition to any number of frontier west displays.  SOLD

NOTE:  A special note of thanks is due to Dr. Michael Echols, owner of American Civil War Medical & Surgical Antiques for his time and assistance in identifying and properly dating this surgeon’s set.  Dr. Echol’s web site is well worth visiting - - even if your primary interest field is not medical antiques – if nothing else, it will make you appreciate modern medicine.


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