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Surgical instrument set, London, England, 1870-1901

All the instruments in this case, which folds into a portable carrying bag, are punched with the maker’s name: ‘“S. Maw, Son & Thompson”. The instruments were used for general surgical procedures and included a variety of forceps, amputations saws, scissors, bistouries and scalpels. As the instruments are made of steel, they could be sterilised easily. The handles are textured to provide an improved grip for the surgeon.

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Glossary: bistoury caché

A long, narrow-bladed knife, with a straight or curved edge and sharp or blunt point (probe-point); used for opening or slitting cavities or hollow structures. Bistoury caché literally translates as hidden knife

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: scalpel

A small thin sharp blade used by surgeons.