INSCRIBED CASED SET OF SIX LANCETS FOR BLOODLETTING CA. 1785-1800

$595.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 30-2184

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This is a pretty little cased set for a pretty unsettling practice. Measures approx. 2 ¾” tall and 2” wide. The case body and top are covered in a beautiful turquoise green shagreen and mounted in silver. A small button on one end of the case releases the hinged top, which swings open to the side to reveal six slots for lancets. The case is certainly English or made for export to England and the six lancets inside are all marked by English makers and all have tortoise shell handles. Three of the instruments are marked “Weiss / London;” two are marked “Arnold / & Sons / London;” and one is marked simply, “J. Gay.” The tortoise shell matches on the six and all open by spreading from a simple single rivet with the side panels as separate and not joined. The box is small enough to be carried in a pocket and has an oval silver plaque on the top that is engraved, “G. Wilkenson.”

Collectors sometimes refer to any tool for blood-letting as a fleam, but some reserve that term for instruments where the blade is a short spearpoint at right angles to the handle and the term “lancet” for this form. Some also draw a distinction between that type of instrument as for veterinary use and this lancet type for use on humans. There were many theories behind blood-letting and it seems only to have gone out of fashion as a general practice in the nineteenth century.

The shagreen is in excellent condition with great color. The bottom of the case is not covered. The silver mounts are a pleasant medium tone. We have not tried to research the name as there would seem to be rather many possibilities, though some searches in period newspapers or lawsuits might bring up some candidates. The lancets are in good condition, but the blades could use some cleaning. The points and edges are good, but there is some staining and thin standing rust on a couple of the blades.

This a very nice memento of a 18th and 19th century medical practice that stretched back hundreds of years. There are even stories that George Washington was one of the less successful objects of the technique. Regardless of the theories held by the practitioner, however, an elegant case like this could not have helped but inspire confidence in the patient.  [sr]

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