Liston-type amputation knife, London, England, 1920-1930

Made:
1920-1930 in London
maker:
Down Bros Limited

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Liston's amputation knife with steel blade and nickel plated handle made by Down Bros. of London, English, 1920-1930

Robert Liston (1797-1847), a Scottish surgeon renowned for his speed and precision in surgery, invented this double edged amputation knife. It is made of steel with a nickel-plated handle. Nickel plating was introduced in the 1890s and meant that the knife could be boiled without it rusting and was therefore ideal for aseptic surgery. The knife was made by Down Bros, a leading surgical instrument maker.

A Liston knife was the weapon of choice of the infamous Jack the Ripper, a London serial killer, in 1888. It is thought Jack the Ripper may have had some surgical and anatomical knowledge due to the way he mutilated his female victims.

Details

Category:
Surgery
Collection:
Sir Henry Wellcome's Museum Collection
Object Number:
A270167
Materials:
nickel (plated) and steel
Measurements:
blade: 113 mm
type:
amputation knife
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • surgical equipment
  • surgical instrument
  • surgical knife
credit:
Down Brothers