Enlarge (credit: RR Auction)
For a quick break from the marvels of modern medicine, look no further than the gruesome tools used to hack people apart during the eighteenth century.
Up for auction this week are two amputation kits used during the American Revolutionary War by Dr. John Warren, a Continental Army surgeon who co-founded Harvard Medical School in 1782.

The kits sport clumsy, oddly curved, and painfully jagged instruments, including dull saws and indelicate pinchers.

The tools were used to coarsely remove limbs, cutting through bones and shoving aside arteries at a time when musket balls left gaping wounds, sterilization and hygiene weren’t appreciated, and anesthesia often consisted of rum and a wooden stick to bite down on.

Amputations were fairly common during the war, yet frequently deadly.
Because the Continental Army had little equipment, many doctors had to rely on their own personal tools.

This was the case with these two kits owned by Dr. Warren (below).
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