Wade & Ford Hypodermic Syringe

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Presented is an American Civil War-era hypodermic syringe by surgical instrument makers George Wade & William E. Ford

This antique syringe is molded from vulcanized hard rubber and is stamped Goodyear Patent 1851 on the barrel. The needles are gold and have an inner screw threading. The piston is graduated and is moved via push-pull action. The velvet-lined leatherette and wood case is marked Wade & Ford 85 Fulton St. N.Y. The business duo operated at this address from 1861 to 1866 (Edmonson, 1997, p. 82)

“Instrument makers in the nineteenth century could choose from a broad range of non-metals. Most of these were organic substances taken from plants or animals. They included ivory, horn, tortoise shell, gutta percha, leather, rubber, wood, whalebone, and catgut. The Goodyear patent of 1851 had provided hard rubber for use in instruments such as enema pumps, syringes, and specula. In the liquid state, the rubber could be poured into molds or molds could be dipped into it before curing. This permitted faster and less expensive production of many items that were previously made of metal (Edmonson & Hambrecht, 1989, p. 60).”


Edmonson, J. M. (1997). American surgical instruments: the history of their manufacture and a directory of instrument makers to 1900. San Francisco: Norman Pub.

Edmonson, J. M., & Hambrecht, T. (1989). American armamentarium chirurgicum: 1889 – the centennial edition. San Francisco: Norman.

  • From the Lusignan syringe collection
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