Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Surgical and Medical Antiques at the Scientific Fair

Many doctors and surgeons are collectors of antique surgical instruments related to their own specialist disciplines. To the lay observer they may seem gruesome but their sole purpose is to save life. There is a strong functional aesthetic in many of these tools as the famous slogan says, “form follows function.” Crafted often with ivory or ebony handles before the advent of sterilization these tools have an appeal and fascination which extends beyond that of the present day practitioner. Across the world many cities have museums specializing in medical history. Here in London the Science Museum has a large area devoted solely to the amazing collection put together by Henry Wellcome. Nowadays there are very few specialist dealers in antique medical items, and we are lucky that a good many of them exhibit twice a year at the Scientific Instrument Fair at London’s Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, in Southampton Row. Here are just a few:

Toon van Leest, and Thom and Vincent  Nelis, all from Holland; David Coffeen, New York; Fletcher Wallis dealer at London’s Portobello Road.

Artificial Leech

Prosthetic Glass Eyes

Ivory Phrenology Head

Percussor and Pleximeter

Embalming Syringe

Early Binaural Stethoscope

Pelican Tooth Extractor

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