The tools of the trade

Boxed set of post-mortem and dissection instruments
S. Maw, Son and Thompson [1870–1901]

Until the early eighteenth century anatomy teaching in Cambridge was primarily a college-sponsored activity. Following the appointment of its first Professor of Anatomy in 1707, the University opened its first Anatomy School in Queens’ Lane in 1716. Dissection remains a core part of the undergraduate medical curriculum in Cambridge today. Post-mortem instruments such as scalpels and scissors are more or less the same as their surgical counterparts, but a typical cased set contained a stout saw, a long straight brain knife, a spine wrench and mallet, and several tissue hooks.

Whipple Museum, Wh.1428
Object on loan from the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, University of Cambridge and reproduced by kind permission

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