Heine Mechanical chain saw by Charriere


A French c. 1850, signed by Charriere a  Paris. Constructed of steel (variously with brushed, polished, and blued finishes) with brass fittings, the saw measures 37cm in overall length. There are fine handles bound in sculpted black ebony cut with cross-hatching (for good gripping). A superbly cut serrated link chain rides in shaped grooves in the pulley wheel (turned by hand crank with ball-joint mounted handle) and in the forward nose, allowing cuts in the bone less than 2.5 mm thick and approximately 2cm across. Tension in the chain is set and clamped with two thumbscrews, and there is a quick-release blade guard. Twin handles, adjustable in a slot, allow precise control of the cutting position. A long articulated spike, adjustable in length, is designed (according to Charrière) to keep the instrument steady by stabbing the spike into a table or even into a convenient bone!

This is an example of the prize-winning bone saw invented by Dr. Bernhard Heine (1800 – 1846) of Würzburg, Germany. It was announced in 1830, and quickly brought recognition to this inventor and orthopedic surgeion. The saw was in fact somewhat difficult to control, and in 1843 Charrière constructed the saw with the twin stabilizing handles up front, as proposed by Prof. Pierre-Nicolas Gerdy.

All early mechanical chain saws are quite rare; a few examples of German Heine saws are recorded, but this French version is particularly uncommon. (we note one sold in Paris in 1879.) one measure of its rarity is given by the 1866 inventory taken on the sale of the Maison Charriére; in the current stock were found 300(!) amputation saws, and exactly one (!) Heine saw. The very limited production is perhaps attributable to the high cost of this complex instrument, but also to its efficiency – apparently it cut too far, too fast!

An ingenious surgical instrument, of great rarity. The mechanical chain saw comes in a oak wood box, which is also signed by Charriere and on the top labelled with no 24 Operations diverses. They take out the interior of the box so I’m not sure if the box belongs to the saw, but it could be. It is an operation saw but belongs that to an operation diverses as the brace plate on the top gives. The wooden handles are in mint condition and the saw is in good working order.

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