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Moments in Surgical History
March 1998

George Tiemann and the American Surgical Instrument Trade in the Preantiseptic Era

Arch Surg. 1998;133(3):338. doi:10-1001/pubs.Arch Surg.-ISSN-0004-0010-133-3-ssh0398

IN THE 1820s, AN INDIGENOUS, albeit small, surgical instrument industry came into existence in Boston, Mass, New York City, and Philadelphia, Pa. At that time, various artisans and cutlers, most of them recent immigrants from Europe, began to advertise themselves as surgical instrument fabricators. Despite the emergence of this fledgling domestic trade, medical and surgical practitioners influenced by long-standing English and French traditions still preferred foreign-made instruments, deeming them generally better in design and workmanship. This preference for foreign surgical implements waned only when American firms demonstrated an ability to produce tools of equal quality. This occurred in the 1840s and 1850s, when the likes of the German immigrant George Tiemann (1795-1868) and the English artisan William Goulding (born 1805) were at the zenith of their creative skills in New York City.

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