Monday, October 27, 2008

Value in Rare Medical Collectibles

Cupping and Bleeding set, circa 1880, made by Capron, Paris is offered at

Pepto Bismol might not be enough to settle our stomachs in this turbulent market, so, we might be thinking a visit to the doctor might be the order for the day to cure what ails us. The real cure, however, might not be found in either one of these solutions. Rather, finding the right medical collectibles and cashing in on their values will likely work miracles in calming that upset stomach.

Doctors have been admired for centuries and discoveries have shown that surgery was performed thousands of years ago. So, what should we be on the lookout for when we’re at auctions, estate sales, or paying a visit to a prospective client?
How about a Rhinoceros horn? No, I’m not a brick short of a load this morning. Something you might not know about the Rhinoceros horn is that it is supposed to have magical powers, and a cup from this horn was fashioned and used for medical purposes. If you come across one, you should know that these can be valued as high as $10,000. However, there are many more items related to the medical profession of yesteryear that are more readily available than one of these horns.

I can still remember the leather medical bag my doctor carried in the days when doctors made home visits. When he opened it, my eyes would widen with excitement, not knowing what he would pull out of it. Usually, the first item I saw was the doctor's stethoscope. One of these old style instruments will fetch good money today, but there are many other items to keep an eye out for. Apothecary Jars, Poison Bottles, Hot Water Bottles, bleeding cups, mortar & pestles, and surgical instruments are items that were often found in that black doctor’s bag, and these could bring some good money today.

One of the most sought after of items is something called a quack machine, said to perform astonishing cures. They really did nothing to help the patient, but nonetheless, if you find one it could be valuable, depending upon how outrageous it is. A Dr. Daniels Tin Veterinary cabinet could bring $5,000 plus.

I once made a big mistake on a surgical set being auctioned locally here in Chicago. I saw it during the preview and it held my interest, but as the night wore on, I decided to leave before this lot came up for auction. I later found out it sold for only a few hundred dollars. I looked up its possible value in a very old Civil War guide I had and discovered its value back then was listed at $5,000. Who knows what it would be valued at today. I just check this off as another one of my many mistakes. I share this with you so you don’t make the same mistakes I did. I often get a little antsy and don’t stay around for some the items I’ve had an interested in. Big mistake. Stay a little longer for the items that have initially caught your eye. It can pay you off several times over.

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