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19TH CENTURY SURGEON’S CASED CATHETER SET – EXCELLENT CONDITION – IDENTIFIED SET:  Believed to date from the 1880’s, this very well made set of 19th Century Cased Catheters has survived intact with all the original instruments present and in like new condition.   

The leatherette case measures 13 ¾” long, 5” wide, 1” high.  The center front latch, and the swivel hook latches on each end are of brass, all are intact and fully functional.  The case was apparently hinged on the back with the same leatherette material that covers the case, but that hinge seam is now separated due to the wear through the years.  Otherwise the case exterior is in excellent condition with only minor scuffs at the corners.  Mounted on the top of the case is a silver presentation plate measuring 1 ½” long and ¼” wide, bearing the engraved inscription, “Wm SIMPSON, from Thos. A. Dodd”.   

The silk lining in the lid and velvet lining in the instrument tray is intact with minimal wear.  

The maker’s label on the lid lining is legible.  According to the 1850 Ward's directory for Northumberland and Durham, R. McQueen & Son were located at 45 Grainger St. in Newcastle, and listed as a cutler and maker of surgical instruments.  By 1858, the firm was listed under the same name at 52 Grainger St., and was still there in 1916.  Robert McQueen was born in 1819 in Tynemouth and died in 1890 in Corbridge.  His son, William, was also a cutler, so apparently he kept the firm in business after his father’s death.   

Made of silver as was typical, and showing a nice even aged patina, all of the catheters are present, all are intact with the wire inserts, and all are numbered sequentially from “1” through “12” on the knurled knobs of the wire inserts.  All of the catheters are full form with no crimps or bends out of shape, and all of them have both of the tie loops intact and in full form with none that are bent, broken or damaged.   It is interesting that only one of the set – No. 8 - is stamped with the maker’s name, while the others are not so stamped, but all of the catheters are identical in design and form, save for their size and the numbering system.   

The glass vial appears to be original to the set given the perfect fit in the mortise provided.  The vial is full form with no cracks or chips and the stopper is in place.  The label has a hand written notation in ink describing the contents which is beyond my ability to decipher except that it seems to indicate the contents are a in 1% solution. 

This is a very nice set, and while it was not unusual for the smaller catheters to be bent or broken during use, or simply lost over the passage of time, this set has retained all the original instruments in excellent condition, and it displays quite nicely in a medical display.  SOLD 

NOTE:  A special note of thanks is due to Dr. Doug Arbittier, owner of for his time and assistance in identifying and properly dating this set.  Dr. Arbittier’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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