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Sword + scabbard - Farquhar McCrae's sword + scabbard

From the Collection of Royal Australasian College of Surgeons 250-290 Spring Street East Melbourne Victoria

Description
Sword, ceremonial, steel with brass decoration and a steel handle, highly decorated, in a scabbard of patterned black leather covered metal, brass tipped, 100 cm long. It belonged to Farquhar McCrae.
Object Registration
218/3079
Historical information
Farquhar McCrae (1807-50) was born at Westbrook near Edinburgh, into a distinguished Scottish family. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh and graduated MD in 1827. After a sojourn in Paris he joined the staff of the general hospital at Chatham. Here he suffered an injury during a dissection, which impaired his health for the rest of his life. He was appointed curator of the museum at Chatham, and put together a notable collection of pathological specimens. In 1838 he sought to resign on the grounds of ill health, and was then offered a posting with the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons. But with his health still poor, he decided to emigrate to a kinder climate, and arrived in Melbourne aboard the barque Midlothian.

McCrae set up practice in Bourke Street with his brother-in-law, David Thomas. Both were pioneers in the use of anæsthetics. McCrae was the first to introduce chloroform, Thomas ether. Sometime after 1841 McCrae moved to Sydney, where he was one of the first medical practitioners appointed to the staff of the Sydney Infirmary and Dispensary. He died in Sydney at the age of 43 years.

The sword is a dress sword of the 6th Dragoons. Made by Henry Wilkinson of Pall Mall, it is 38 inches (96.5cm) long and has an elaborately engraved and highly polished steel blade. Being a ceremonial weapon, the blade is quite blunt, and the gilt guard bears the crown and monogram of Queen Victoria, which dates the sword to late 1837 or 1838. The grip is bound in snakeskin and the sword is carried in a leather scabbard with brass mounts. It remains as one of the important links to the pioneering days of Melbourne, and early medical practice in Australasia.
Last updated
17 Feb 2020 at 12:14PM