The manufacture of surgical instruments was primarily left to tradesmen prior to the eighteenth century. Armourers, blacksmiths, and cutlers made instruments that were used for crude surgery, and later, silversmiths were responsible for finer work. A dramatic increase in the complexity of surgical procedures occurred in the nineteenth century as the development of technology provided physicians with a new class of therapeutic instrumentation.
daguerreotype of a surgeon with his instruments (ca. 1860)
Surgeons were proud of their cased sets and regarded them as a status symbol. They displayed intricately carved ebony and ivory handeled instruments (which could not be adequately steralized) to their patients long after the principles of asepsis had been well established.
exhibition ivory general surgery set, closed (ca. 1880) by A. Aubry
Aubrey was one of the finest French instrument makers of the nineteenth century. This set likely was manufactured only for exhibition and competition at a World's Fair. It contained the finest instruments made of ivory, plated gold, and blued steel.
George Tiemann's New York office during the Civil War
G. Tiemann & Co. was one of the major manufacturer's of medical equipment in the United States during the nineteenth century and continues to be in operation. They were located at 63 Chatham Street in New York 1833 -1864, at 67 Chatham Street 1864-1886, and at 107 Park Row 1886-1921
Charriere Marine Set
This is a large marine set that is fairly complete (surgery, urology, dentistry) as required for the demands of an ocean voyage. Ironically this marine set was paid for in New Orleans just before hurricane Katrina hit and it was months before it was clear that it had survived the storm.
large pocket surgical set with various forceps and scalpel blades fitting universal handles (ca. 1870) by Tiemann
Folding surgical sets like this one gave physicians the capability of performing almost all the procedures done with larger cased sets. Thus set has a universal handle that fits several blades.