Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Doctor, Doctor

I'm a big fan of doctor or physician knives.  They usually come with a spear point blade and a spatula.  The knife butt, on the best of them, is a solid flat end cap used to grind medications and materials.  There was a time when doctors would make house calls, especially in the more remote parts of the country.  Sometimes they need to open their black bag and formulate medication by absorbing a liquid into a solid and solids to ointments.  This called for a spatula and a way of grinding materials.  Hence the doctor’s knife. 

Rough Ryder's Doctor Knife

“…this was entirely done by hand. The pill mass was rolled into the form of a cylinder, placed on a graduated tile and divided by means of a spatula into measured lengths calculated to contain the required amount of active ingredients. These were then rounded between finger and thumb to give the final product.”  Hong Kong Medical Journal 2015.

Of course, the blade was needed to lance boils and carbuncles.  Medicine in the early 1900s was not for the faint of heart.

I’ve always been fascinated with spatulas.  As a chemist, I used a variety of sizes to weigh out chemicals and unknowns.  Then I turn around and see a chocolate maker use the same tool.  Take a step and you’ll find printers keeping the ink in the printing bank mixed and evenly spread out with spatulas.  You’ll find them in kitchens, paint and pigment stores, in labs and pharmacies, but you’ll seldom find them with doctors.

I don’t see too many doctor knives around, especially the older ones, so I was happy to find one from Rough Ryder.  Yes, they changed their name from Rider to Ryder.  I don’t know if it was the condom association or Teddy Roosevelt.  Perhaps the change was just a public relations move to get more notice.

I think of that blade as more of a sheep foot blade, but there is a high degree of freedom in naming blades 

The knife is 3.6 inches closed and has nickel silver bolsters.  It has a spey blade and the traditional spatula.  The handle is malachite and pearl from Stoneworx.  The knife has brass liners and the two blades are separated by brass as well.

All and all, it is a really nice doctor’s knife and I really like it.  Rough Ryder has an upscale group of knives, and this is one of them.  It is a nice example of knife art at a reasonable price.  You can buy one for the princely sum of $26.00.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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