A Roman Bronze and Iron Scalpel, Roman Imperial Period, ca. 1st - 2nd century CE
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As can be seen by this fine example, ancient scalpels had almost the same form and function as those of today. The most ordinary type of scalpels in antiquity were longer, iron scalpels used to make a variety of incisions but particularly suited for deep or long cuts. This example features a long bronze handle with a finial terminal, cast using the lost wax method, and an incised design, no doubt to help secure the ancient surgeon’s grip. There is a straight blade slot at the end that is mounted with a sharp, leaf-shaped iron blade.
Medium: Bronze, iron.
Dimensions: Length: 6 5/8 inches (16.8 cm)
Condition: Expected minor loss to the scalpel blade, but otherwise, the scalpel is intact and in very good condition overall. Presented on a museum-quality custom mount.
Provenance: Private collection of a physician, assembled in the 1960s-1990s, thereafter private collection of Dr. James Tait Goodrich (1947 - 2020), Grandview-on-Hudson, NY, acquired from the NY trade in 2019.
James T. Goodrich, M.D., Ph.D. a pediatric neurosurgeon known for successfully separating conjoined twins in a complicated and rare procedure. Dr. Goodrich was thrust into public view when he conducted a series of four operations over nearly a year on Clarence and Carl Aguirre, twins from the Philippines who were joined at the tops of their heads and shared major veins in their brains. In another celebrated case, Dr. Goodrich led a team of 40 surgeons in a 27-hour procedure in 2016 to separate another set of twin boys, the seventh separation procedure of his long career. Dr. Goodrich served in the Marines during the Vietnam War, then studied neurosurgery and psychobiology at the University of California, Irvine; Columbia University; and the Neurological Institute of New York before starting at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York where he spent more than 30 years of his career, eventually serving as Director of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the Children's Hospital. Dr. Goodrich passed away on March 30th, 2020 from complications of COVID-19.