Jason Clarke Antiques

Showcase of Medical Instruments by Christopher Johnson & Co Sheffield


For sale, an early Twentieth Century showcase of opthamological and ENT medical instruments to Christopher Johnson & Co, Sheffield.

The showcase is constructed from black painted wood with a pine backboard to which numerous instruments are arranged and held in place by wire loops and protected by a glazed front panel. Above the instrument section is a secondary glazed panel which has been reverse painted in gold and black with the manufacturer’s name, Christopher Johnson & Co, Sheffield between the company’s signature flag trademark with the initials CJ incorporated.

The numerous instruments contained in the display are for use in opthamology and ENT and include amongst others, a mouth gag, Ear & Nasal Speculae and a May opthalmoscope with related accessories. Various names are also inscribed on these instruments including S Maw Son & Sons Ltd, Gowllands, Rynacrom and Klinostik. The evidence of the names would suggest that they the instruments date to between 1920 and 1940.

Christopher Johnson the sign written name to the head of the case was a prolific Sheffield cutler and steel manufacturing company throughout the majority of the Nineteenth Century and into the Twentieth Century. Formed by Christopher Johnson in 1836, the founder maintained the company until the 1860’s whereafter (probably due to old age) a partnership with John Hibbert and John Marshall was created. The company maintained the name but Johnson retired by 1879 and the company was bought upon his death in 1881 by the remaining partners. By 1886, Marshall took full control of the business which by now had operations in both Sheffield and London.

Marshall died in 1915 leaving the company to his son-in-law JM Denton, it was incorporated in 1939 and was finally consumed by Wostenholm in 1955.

I can find no clear evidence of business relationships between Johnson and the various companies engraved on the instruments but it seems reasonable that Johnson would have manufactured the various components for these medical companies. The showcase is likely to have been hung at the Johnson premises as a means of showcasing its manufacturing skills to prospective clients.

Evidently showing some level of degradation to the sign written front but nevertheless remaining both an interesting and very good looking display piece.

Circa 1930

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