Civil War Field Surgeon’s Kit by George TiemannIMG_6628IMG_6631IMG_6632IMG_6633IMG_6634IMG_6635IMG_6642IMG_6641IMG_6640IMG_6638IMG_6637IMG_6636Screen Shot 2019-12-29 at 1.27.51 PMScreen Shot 2019-12-29 at 1.27.38 PM

High Quality Civil War Field Surgeon’s Kit by George Tiemann


High Quality Civil War Field Surgeon’s Kit by George Tiemann – This high quality kit has most of its original instruments and is housed in a fine rosewood case, lined in its original, deep maroon velvet; the case has a brass escutcheon impressed into the lid of the case; the original lock escutcheon is missing. Prominently displayed on the cover of the upper interior instrument panel, is a Moroccan, red leather label, with gilded embossed letters, reading:






This address was where Tiemann plied his surgical instrument trade during the latter part of the Civil War. The main surgical instruments – the two large tissue or muscle scalpels and bone saw – are uniquely constructed so that they may be attached and detached, via a large threaded “male” extension, into a handle, beautifully constructed of cross-hatched whale ivory, that tightens the inserted surgical tool in place, via a steel thumbscrew. The remaining small tissue scalpels all have whale ivory handles. All instruments in the case are marked “Tiemann”, indicative of a kit and components that have remained together, since the Civil War. The kit also contains the following, Tiemann marked instruments: scalpel guide, hemostat or clamp, venesection forceps, bullet extractor and a Nelaton probe (steel needle-like probe that has a dollop of unglazed porcelain on its tip, used to locate bullets by leaving a gray mark on the porcelain); additional components in the kit are: original, complete tourniquet, period paper packet of surgical suturing thread and original group of different size surgical, suturing needles.  This is a superior example of a Civil War field surgeon’s kit, made by one of the premier medical suppliers of the war period; it is the only case we have seen that has exchangeable blades and saw that fit into a common handle. Finally, it is the only case we have seen that contains such high quality, whale ivory-handled instruments.

George Tiemann & Co. (George Tiemann, Frederick A. Stohlmann, and Edward Pfarre) surgical instruments

1855-63/64: 63 Chatham and 44 Eldridge

1863/64-71: 67 Chatham and 44 Eldridge

George Tiemann was a major supplier (probably the largest supplier) of surgical instruments to Union forces during the civil war. According to Edmonson American Surgical Instruments his company address was 63 Chathum street from 1855-1863 and 67 Chathum street in 1864-1865.

IN THE 1820s, AN INDIGENOUS, albeit small, surgical instrument industry came into existence in Boston, Mass, New York City, and Philadelphia, Pa. At that time, various artisans and cutlers, most of them recent immigrants from Europe, began to advertise themselves as surgical instrument fabricators. Despite the emergence of this fledgling domestic trade, medical and surgical practitioners influenced by long-standing English and French traditions still preferred foreign-made instruments, deeming them generally better in design and workmanship. This preference for foreign surgical implements waned only when American firms demonstrated an ability to produce tools of equal quality. This occurred in the 1840s and 1850s, when the likes of the German immigrant George Tiemann (1795-1868) and the English artisan William Goulding (born 1805) were at the zenith of their creative skills in New York City.*

* George Tiemann and the American Surgical Instrument Trade in the Preantiseptic Era

Ira M. Rutkow, MD, MPH, DrPH

Arch Surg. 1998;133(3):338. doi:10-1001/pubs.Arch Surg.-ISSN-0004-0010-133-3-ssh0398