Historical information

This surgical instrument kit, c1870s, originally belonged to Lord Joseph Lister. On his retirement in 1892, Lord Lister presented the instrument kit to his friend Dr Alexander Matthew. The donor of the surgical kit, Professor Ian Stewart Fraser, is the great grandson of Dr Alexander Matthew.


This surgical kit, made by Young of Edinburgh Scotland in the 1870s is significant because it belonged to and was most likely used by an internationally important figure in modern medicine, Lord Joseph Lister.
Joseph Lister, 1st Baron Lister, Bt., OM, FRS, PC (5 April 1827 – 10 February 1912), known as Sir Joseph Lister, Bt., between 1883 and 1897, was a British surgeon and a pioneer of antiseptic surgery. By applying Louis Pasteur's advances in microbiology, he promoted the idea of sterile surgery while working at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Lister successfully introduced carbolic acid (now known as phenol) to sterilise surgical instruments and to clean wounds, which led to a reduction in post-operative infections and made surgery safer for patients.

Physical description

Surgical instruments in original timber case, containing two steel sharp hooks with the manufacturer's stamp,"YOUNG EDINBURGH" on the handles , five steel scalpels with ebony handles in assorted sizes . Also included separately are autopsy hooks, one metal blowpipe [commonly used with urine testing apparatus] and two dissector forceps.

Inscriptions & markings

The two steel sharp hooks both stamped on steel handle "YOUNG EDINBURGH."
A sixth handle, [incomplete, the blade missing] has "ETHEL LIVIE" scratched into the handle.

The instruments were passed down through the donor's mother's family and there was no one of that name in the family tree, according to the donor's mother.