From The Hunterian: A Clockwork Saw

By M@ Last edited 177 months ago

Last Updated 29 September 2009

From The Hunterian: A Clockwork Saw


In the third of three posts, we focus on individual exhibits from the weird and wonderful collection of our Museum of the Month - the Hunterian Museum.

Our final highlight from the Hunterian Museum is this prototype clockwork saw, straight out of a horror film. The hand-wound device was developed by orthopaedic surgeon WHB Winchester (1816-1901) who, despite an honourable mention at the International Exhibition of 1862 for improvements to the design of splints for fractures, appears to have been unsuccessful with this design.

The clockwork saw was difficult to control once it had been wound up, lacked precision in its use and was a great danger to the surgeon's assistant. In an era when speed was of the essence for the potentially conscious patient, the saw was an unnecessary incumberance to an operation. Strangely, it never made it past the prototype phase.

The clockwork saw can be seen (as item RCSIC/M42) at the Hunterian Museum in the Royal College of Surgeons, Lincoln's Inn Fields. With thanks to Jane Hughes for assistance. Previous entries: Museum of the Month, Sci-fi Surgery review, a cockerel's tooth, and phossy jaw.