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Surgical instrument set with case, England, 1650-1700

This case bears the Barber-Surgeon’s Company coat of arms on the lid and inside the case, indicating that the owner was a member of the guild. The instrument case contains scissors, tongue depressor, forceps, a scoop, scraper and seven lancets. The case is covered in shagreen (stained fish skin) and has silver decoration. The double-edged lancets have tortoiseshell covers which are hinged with screws. These were used to open the veins in bloodletting. The various blades were used on an assortment of veins in different locations around the body.

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Glossary: tongue-depressor

blade that is used to depress the tongue to allow for inspection of the mouth and throat

Glossary: scoop

A long handled spoon like instrument used for scraping parts of the body, or extracting foreign bodies.

Glossary: surgical instrument set

Set of instruments to be used for surgery. A physician would often build up their own collection of favoured tools in order to feel as comfortable as possible when carrying out surgery.

Glossary: scraper

Any of various tools used for scraping, producing a clean or a smooth finished surface, cutting grooves, or shaping objects by scraping away superfluous material.

Glossary: guild

No description.

Glossary: lancets

A surgical instrument of various forms, commonly sharp-pointed and two-edged. The lancet is used in venesection (the act of opening a vein for bloodletting), and in opening abscesses.

Glossary: forceps

A pliers-like medical instrument used to grasp tissue.

Glossary: bloodletting

Puncturing a vein in order to withdraw blood. A popular medical practice for over two thousand years. Bloodletting often involved withdrawing large quantities of blood in the belief that this would cure or prevent many illnesses and diseases. The practice has been abandoned for all but a few very specific conditions.