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Liston-type amputation knife, London, England, 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.

Object number:

A270167

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    Glossary: amputation knife

    A broad-bladed knife used primarily for cutting large muscles during major amputations of limbs

    Glossary: amputation

    Removal of part of, or a whole limb by surgery. Used to control pain or the spread of disease in the affected limb.

    Glossary: aseptic

    Free from bacterial contamination; surgically sterile or sterilized.