Today I want to highlight just one of the terrific resources out there for researching medical artifacts.
The American Armamentarium Chirurgicum is a catalog produced by George Tiemann & Co., a leading 19th century manufacturer and retailer of surgical equipment. HC&A's History of Medicine Collection includes the weighty, 846-page catalog from 1889. The catalog's preface anticipates the reasons that the American Armamentarium Chirurgicum is a valuable resource to this day:
"In surgical works many of the instruments for performing operations are not illustrated. In illustrated catalogues, on the other hand, a description of the modus operandi is wanting. A good drawing of an instrument imparts an accurate conception of its form and construction. A description of the application added to this gives a clearer idea of its suitability to the end proposed."Following are hundreds of pages of elegant technical drawings and descriptions of state-of-the art equipment, such as these medicine cases:
A contemporary reviewer even predicted, "The future student of surgical technics will find this work a rich mine for his explorations."
The 1889 American Armamentarium Chirurgicum is also available in a centennial edition facsimile, and the 1879 catalogue can be consulted free! free! free! via Google Books.
Watch for more posts on researching medical artifacts!