Appraisal Video: (2:30)
Science & Technology
APPRAISER: I think we better warn everybody that if they have a squeamish stomach, leave the room now. You're a fireman, so you're not squeamish. Tell me how you found this.
GUEST: I found this up in my grandfather's house, an old Victorian in Newtonville, Massachusetts. And, um, the house was getting sold, and we were cleaning it out, and this was right before the closing time, and me and my cousin, we just found it up in the attic, up in the rafters, um, hidden... It could have been there, possibly, before my grandfather owned the house and that's...
APPRAISER: Right. That is such a cool story. That is so cool. Okay, well, we have a very nice surgeon set, sometimes called a field surgeon set if it was army use. It's made by a company in New York called Tiemann, a very famous, very good company. And we take that out, and what we have here are major surgical instruments. Now, this is called a Liston knife. It was invented by an English surgeon who was the fastest surgeon on record at the time. And you can see, it's a very long blade and a very sharp blade for cutting flesh prior to the bone saw. Now, notice how it's all nickel, it's all metal. That shows me that it's late 19th century.
GUEST: Because it's nickel?
APPRAISER: Because it's all metal. Earlier ones would have had wooden handles, which of course in the pre-antiseptic days was a great place for germs to hide. They wouldn't even boil them back then. They'd wipe the blood off and use it again, and that's how people died. Same with the saw. After you've cut the flesh of the limb, you then saw the bone with that one. And this one, again, nickel handle. Some rust on it but very, very clean. Then what do we have? We've got, ooh, this is a gory one. That is for, you know, often for like cutting off fingers or toes, that kind of operation.
APPRAISER: Then-- here's one of my favorites. This is called a trephine. People think it's, they always say for holes in the head. It's often if you had a skull fracture and they had to lift parts of the skull off the brain.
GUEST: Right, right.
APPRAISER: They would drill a hole in the head to get under it, and then lift it with another instrument. So that's what that is, that's a trephine. Let's just put it right there. Interesting thing is, these are ivory. This is a little chain saw. That's ivory. It is probably earlier than the set. They probably had leftover pieces, and they put them in when they were making up the set.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: The fact that it's a mahogany case, with these brass bindings on it, make me think it was made for a war-time use, possibly Spanish-American War. It was a very short war. They didn't use them. It's such great condition, it probably was never used. Because of that, because it's totally complete and excellent condition, at auction of... a scientific instrument auction, you'd probably reach about $2,000 to $2,500 for it.
GUEST: Wow, that's great. What year was it, really?
APPRAISER: Turn of the century, circa 1900.
APPRAISER: So you've got a great set. Handle it with care, though.
GUEST: I definitely will.
APPRAISER: You don't want to hurt yourself.
GUEST: No, I won't. I'll be very careful with it.