Surgical Set

Description (Brief):

This amputation set made by Baltimore instrument maker J. F. Cassell is typical of the surgical instruments available to American doctors in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Cassel’s first shop was located at 7 Sharp Street from 1823 to 1830, his second shop was at the corner of German and Liberty Streets from 1831 to 1834.

Description (Brief)

The set belonged to Dr. Colin Mackenzie (1775-1827) who was born in Calvert County, Maryland in 1775. He received his medical degree in 1797 from the University of Pennsylvania. The topic of his dissertation was on dysentery. Mackenzie returned to Baltimore, Maryland after graduation and was an attending physician at the Baltimore City Hospital (1799-1808), and Physician to the St. Andrews Society (1815-1826). In September 1814 the Committee of Vigilance and Safety which oversaw the defense of Baltimore against the British during The War of 1812, appointed Dr. Mackenzie Surgeon in Charge of the city hospital. Mackenzie died 1 September 1827 in Baltimore.

Description (Brief)

The mahogany case has an oval silver escutcheon and a bale handle. The instrument blades are made of steel, and have ebony handles. The set includes a large amputation saw, tourniquet, two trephines with ebony handles, a bone forceps, one large amputation knife, several smaller knives, and suture needles.

Description (Brief)

Also included in the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of the State of Maryland Collection is an apothecary chest, accession 302606.459 which belonged to Dr. Mackenzie.

Description (Brief)

Although we do not know the types of operations Dr. Mackenzie performed, he might have encountered a situation similar to the one Scottish surgeon Robert Liston writes about in his 1837 text Practical Surgery. Liston admitted a young boy to the North London Hospital with injuries to his head. The boy’s injuries were caused by shards of broken stone bottles when the wagon he was riding in overturned.

Description (Brief)

The instruments Liston used were very similar to those found in the Mackenzie set. A small trephine bore holes into the child’s head enlarging the wound and extracting stone fragments from the interior of the skull, dissecting forceps were also used to extract the smaller fragments, and suture needles stitched up the wound.

Date Made: 1833-1842Date Made: about 1823-1827Associated Dates: 1775 01 01+ / 1775 01 01+, 1827 12 31 / 1827 12 31

Maker: Cassell, J. F.

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Maryland, Baltimore

Subject: Surgery


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Medicine


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of The Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of the State of Maryland

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: MG.302606.738Accession Number: 302606Catalog Number: 302606.738

Object Name: Amputation Setsurgical set, amputationOther Terms: Amputation Set; surgical set

Physical Description: metal, steel (overall material)fabric (overall material)wood (overall material)silver (overall material)Measurements: overall: 2.75 cm x 17 cm x 9.25 cm; 1 3/32 in x 6 11/16 in x 3 21/32 inoverall, box closed: 3 in x 17 in x 9 3/8 in; 7.62 cm x 43.18 cm x 23.8125 cmbox at 90 degree angle: 28 cm x 43.1 cm x 22.5 cm; 11 1/32 in x 16 31/32 in x 8 27/32 in


Record Id: nmah_1050870

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.