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Steel and brass bullet extractor, Europe, 1500-1600

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Although attempts had previously been made to remove bullets from wounds when firearms were introduced into warfare in the mid 1200s, only bullets near the surface of the skin could be treated. Special instruments for removing deeper bullets only came into use in the early 1500s. In this example a hollow tube containing a screw-ended rod is placed in a gunshot wound and twisted into the soft lead of the bullet to remove it. The screw can be lengthened or shortened by turning the handles. This steel and brass bullet extractor was part of the private collection of Noel Hamonic (d. 1928), which was purchased in June 1928 for £4,400 by Henry Wellcome. The collection consisted mainly of surgical instruments and pharmacy ware.

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Glossary: bullet extractor

An instrument resembling elongated forceps and used for extracting bullets from the human body.