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Robert L. Brown History of Medicine

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Curiosity Cabinet: Episode 1 – Can you identify this instrument?

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WE HAVE A WINNER!   Congratulations to Michelle Klimpt!  … and thanks to everyone who submitted answers.

The instrument is a “Tonsilotome”.  As the name suggests, it was used to remove tonsils.  Mathieu’s Tonsilotome was described as requiring “but one hand and one motion”.

The McGuire Instrument Collection includes another style of this instrument manufactured by Luer, also known as a Tonsil guillotine.   There were a few other models — check out the 1889 edition of a catalog of surgical instruments,  American armamentarium chirurgicum from George Tiemann & Co, who had their own device, Tiemann & Co.’s Tonsilotome, as well as Billing’s and Fahnestock’s.

Watch for Episode 2 of the Curiosity Cabinet!


Welcome to the first episode of the “Curiosity Cabinet”!

Periodically, we will be posting a short video of an interesting item from our McGuire Historical Instrument Collection, with a few clues about the origin.  Readers may then send us their answers as instructed.  So,  let us begin!

View the video on Youtube at

What is the name of this instrument and what was it used for?


  • It was manufactured in the 19th century by the Collin Company in Paris.
  • It’s based on a design developed by a Dr. Matthieu
  • It is made of steel.

Please submit your answers to Linda Lohr

The prize for the first correct answer received is a set of our beautiful Botanical Notecards!

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