Firle Eye Magnet Set
For your consideration:
19th century Firle Eye Magnet
This fabulous Victorian instrument was invented & manufactured by the surgical toolmakers Gowllands of Croydon, England from around 1880 until the 1920s.
It consists of a strong bar magnet handle with four interchangeable tips & was used to surgically remove iron & steel chips & swarf.
The period advertising described it thus;
"An instrument of opthalmic or bodily surgery for the removal of foreign bodies of iron & steel from the eyes, nose, ears & open wounds".
Previously, large electromagnets had been used but were very expensive & cumbersome & on occasion, so powerful that the eye came with the fragment!!
The handle is made from steel with a high cobalt content with added aluminium & nickel, sometimes referred to as ALNICO. It has a lower density than carbon steel with a higher lifting force & is very resistant to artificial ageing by external magnetic fields.
The four tips are described as tapered, tapered curved, rounded & flat nuzzled. They fit tightly into the handle & have knurled rings to aid fitting & removal.
This example was acquired from the estate of a second generation Army surgeon. His father served throughout WW1 & used this set in field hospitals behind the trenches to remove shrapnel fragments from wounded soldiers. In peacetime, he had an opthalmic practice based in Sheffield, then the centre of iron & steel production in England.
A very rare complete set, of interest to both militaria & vintage medical equipment collectors.
Size: 4-3/8 inches x 2-3/4 inches x 7/8 inches tall
Condition: A few marks & dings to the handle but it is still strongly magnetic. The tips are pretty much perfect. It comes in its original leather covered wooden case lined in satin & velvet. The lid & spring catch close squarely & firmly & it shows little usage wear.
Stamped The Firle Eye Magnet, Made by Gowllands of Croydon, Made in England.
Pull the blue ribbon and the magnet comes out.Magnet still works.
Red velvet display stand not included