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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Pocket Surgical Kit

By Lori Eggleston


We [National Museum of Civil War Medicine] received an exciting donation recently of a collection of pocket surgical kits.  These small leather kits were carried by surgeons during the Civil War and contained the instruments they were most likely to need out in the field.  These instruments are smaller than the ones found in the surgical or amputation kits.  Many of these instruments were also designed to be folded into their handle when not in use, to make for a more compact kit.  There are several sizes of pocket kits, depending on the types and number of instruments they contained.  Let’s take a closer look at one kit and its contents.

The George Tiemann company, located in New York City, was a major supplier of surgical kits and instruments to the Union army during the Civil War.  His company is still in business today.  According to their website, they have been suppliers of “fine surgical instruments” since 1826.

Images: 1) This pocket kit was made by George Tiemann & Co. The exterior of the case is leather and the interior is lined with purple velvet and cloth. The flaps you see on the sides fold in to protect the instruments when the case is closed. You can see that the top flap of the kit is now detached, but the instruments are in very good condition.
2) This odd-looking little instrument is a comb and lancet, used for blood-letting and vaccinations. During the Civil War, doctors would vaccinate soldiers against smallpox using scabs from a person who had been infected with the disease. The lancet or the comb would have been used to make little incisions in the arm in order to insert small bits of the scabs.

From: guardianoftheartifacts.blogspot.com

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