I have finally received the three surgical instruments from Milk Creek (MC) Sutlery. I ordered two tenacula and a nealton probe. The tenacula were $25 each, and the probe was also $25. They asked for a six dollar shipping fee which seemed somewhat excessive, considering they shipped it by regular mail. I ordered on the 25th of December, 2009, and received it on January 4th, 2010.
The ordering process was very smooth. I filled out the online info, placed the order, and they accepted my payment (a gift credit card). I also received an e-mail stating my order had been shipped on December 30, 2009.
I will not be overly critical of their delivery time. We can order things whenever we want, but the plain fact is that it takes someone at the warehouse to pick and pack the order, and several other someones in the mail services to deliver it. I had placed my order on December 25, and we had the chaos of the post-holiday season kick in, which is why received my items yesterday.
My order arrived in a standard first-class Priority Mail envelope. Each item, as you can see from the pictures, had been individually placed in small ziploc-style bags. The shipper also placed a piece of corrugated cardboard to keep the package flat. Despite their precautions one of the tenacula had been slightly bent - whether from careless handling or because the item was not as well manufactured, I do not know. I carefully straightened it.
These are, for the newbies among us, the infamous hooks used to draw blood vessels from the stumps of amputations, so that one could tie a ligature around it. I'll get to showing how to set yours up in a moment. For now, I want to review exactly what I got in relation to the originals. I had to go by some of my photos of Archer (A&S) repros - since he was the first and only known maker of repro 19C surgical instruments before MC and Two Flags (TF), he becomes the benchmark his competitors must meet.
The A&S version was slim, lightweight and had a sharp point as per the originals. He had also lightly stamped on the tang "Archer & Son" so as to identify the item as his and not as an original.
I suspect the MC version was ordered from another manufacturer and then marked up for retail sale. The MC version feels thicker and more crudely hammered into shape. The hook does not end in a very fine point. Rather, it looks like the end had been snipped off and filed in an attempt to make it sharp. The manufacturer also stamped "Tissa" deeply onto the tang, far deeper than what you would see on manufacturer's stamps on originals. The tang has been inserted into the wooden handle and is held in place with four metal studs. The handle has been stained dark brown. I don't know what kind of wood the manufacturer used.
The tenaculum holds okay in my hand. It does feel somewhat bulky, but it's not a major impediment to its overall use. Once I try a few ligatures I will be able to tell if it's worth the time and money invested.
This is a metal rod some eighteen to twenty inches long, with a white bulb on either end. It balances rather well, is not bulky and seems long enough to track ballistics. I don't know what substance they used to make the bulbs on the end. I don't think it's worth $25 myself - $20 ought to cover it, considering the materials need to make it.
Unfortunately I don't have a real A&S probe to which I can compare it. The closest would be the one from my old mentor's A&S capital kit, but it's been so long since I've dealt with one of those I don't think to compare them would be fair. The photo I have is of the one that screws into the wooden handle of the A&S pocket dissection kit. (That's the one with the hammer, chisel, chain retractor and the small saw.)
I'd recommend Milk Creek to help you fill out missing items from your kit, especially on originals. I'd also like to see them make a Heys saw, too. The originals spiral to almost $300 each, and Archer always seems to be out of stock on his site.