Ship's Surgical Kit

Ship's Surgical Kit

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Description (Brief)
This wooden surgical case with brass fittings has three main compartments, one of which is a tray that lifts out from the lower case. The interior of the case is molded so that each instrument has its own compartment. The entire interior is lined with purple velvet. The exterior of the lid has an oval escutcheon which is marked, "U.S.A./ Hosp. Dept." The set includes 45 instruments, three of which are not original to the set. At least six instruments are missing, including four knives and a bandage scissors.
During the Civil War the United States Army contracted with several surgical instrument makers, including Herman Hernstein to provide surgical sets for the Union troops.
As a young boy in Germany Hermann Hernstein was apprenticed to a surgical instrument maker. He came to the United States in 1841 and settled in New York City. Within a few years, he had established his own shop.
According to Edmonson much of Hernstein’s inventory was imported from Europe.
Description
Surgical kits were not required on merchant vessels, but the larger and better-equipped ships often carried them. These were used for everything from pulling teeth to the amputation of limbs, and everything in between. Like the medicine chests, these kits too were often sold with simple pamphlets, with instructions and diagrams on how to use them in emergencies. The captain or first mate most commonly carried out any needed procedures.
Object Name
case
surgical set
date made
1862-1865
maker
Hermann Hernstein & Son
place made
United States: New York, New York City
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 3 1/2 in x 17 1/4 in x 7 1/2 in; 8.89 cm x 43.815 cm x 19.05 cm
ID Number
1977.1103.01
accession number
1977.1103
catalog number
1977.1103.01
Credit Line
Gustave and Phyllis Sokol
subject
Surgery
Civil War and Reconstruction
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Health & Medicine
Cultures & Communities
Work
Industry & Manufacturing
Natural Resources
Transportation
Civil War Surgical Sets
Exhibition
On the Water
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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