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Object Timeline

  • We acquired this object.

-0001

1945

  • Work on this object began.

1955

  • Work on this object ended.

2014

2019

  • You found it!

Noyes Alligator Forceps (Germany), ca. 1950

This is a Noyes Alligator forceps.

This object is not part of the Cooper Hewitt's permanent collection. It was able to spend time at the museum on loan from National Museum of American History as part of Tools: Extending Our Reach.

It is dated ca. 1950. Its medium is stainless steel.

The Noyes alligator forceps is named for its inventor, Henry D. Noyes, a prominent professor of ophthalmology and otology at Bellevue Hospital in New York. His forceps first appeared in 1879—its alligator-shaped jaw a response to his need for an unobstructed view. And, indeed, because of the forceps’s slender arms, it can be used with a speculum. These forceps are made of stainless steel, a non-corrosive metal developed by researchers in Germany and America in the early twentieth century. Before this, hybrid instruments made with wood, ivory, and stone handles dominated. But as the germ theory put forth by Louis Pasteur in the 1860s was accepted, all-metal instruments, which could be sterilized, slowly replaced earlier tools. The first stainless-steel instruments began to appear in catalogues around 1929. An otologist named Dr. Julius Lempert donated this forceps set to the Division of Medicine and Science at the National Museum of American History in 1961.

It is credited Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, M-09857.

  • Tonsillotome (France), 1855
  • brass, steel, ivory.
  • Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, 1978.0874.02.
  • 14.2012.73

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Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 11.4 x 14.3 x 0.3 cm (4 1/2 x 5 5/8 x 1/8 in.)

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Tools: Extending Our Reach.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35460709/ |title=Noyes Alligator Forceps (Germany), ca. 1950 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=17 August 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>