CircCentral--The World's Largest Online Circumcision
            Museum

Circumcision knives (Hebrew: אזמל izmel)

Russian
          circumcision knifeRussian circumcision knifeThis silver filigree knife was my first purchase.  It was listed as Russian, circa 1900.  The blade is stamped "84" and "AC."  The handle is inscribed with three Hebrew letters:  zayin, dalet, and shin.  The seller was from Poland.







Ivory circumcision knifeIvory circumcision
            knifeThis knife on the right has an ivory handle.  It was listed as a "very old circumcision knife."  The blade is steel.  The handle has a Hebrew inscription that is hard to read.  I think it spells brit milah.  The seller was from Poland.





Old circumcision knifeThis knife has some similarities to the last one.  Its handle is also ivory.  The blade is iron and brass.  The seller listed the knife as Polish, either 18th or 19th century.










Polish Circumcision Knife, Gilt and
                FiligreeThis is a stunning Polish silver circumcision knife.  The markings are early 19th century.  The silver-gilt cylindrical handle is adorned with filigree.  There is a foliate finial.











Polish or German circumcision
                knife 1720 - 1780The knife on the right weighs a substantial 45 grams due to the quartz handle.  It measures 15 centimeters.  The silver filigree work is exquisite.  Its origin is likely Germany or Poland, c. 1720 to 1780.

Many thanks to the kind British gentleman who offered CircCentral this knife and silver shield from his grandfather's Judaica collection.



Antique
              Swedish Circumcision KnifeThe circumcision knife on the left was sold by a Scandinavian antiques dealer. The close-up photo below it highlights the beautiful gilding and filigree work.  The knife is likely Swedish, from the 17th or 18th century. 








Antique
              Swedish Circumcision Knife, Close-Up


Circumcision knife filigree
                18th centuryTo the right is yet another exquisite knife with a filigree handle.  The knife is likely Polish and from the early 18th century.


Circumcision
              knife 19th Century Central EuropeThis is a 19th century circumcision knife from Central Europe.  The handle is made of agate, and the blade is of forged steel.  The finial and bolster are silver. 

Although the other knives on this page have double-sided blades, this knife's blade is sharpened on just one side.  The agate handle makes this knife a bit heavier than the others. 


A Brooklyn auction house listed the knife below as a "very old circumcision knife, most likely Sephardic in origin."  I was told the handle is gilded silver.  On two sides of the handle are Hebrew inscriptions which are too worn to read.  On the other two sides are floral decorations.
Sephardic
                circumcision knifeSephardic circumcision knife

Hammersite
              circumcision knife and shieldI discovered that a different auction house sold what appears to be the exact same knife (along with a shield) six months prior.  In that listing, the knife was described as brass, Eastern European, mid-19th century.  Interesting!












1950s circumcision knife1950s circumcision knifeThe knife on the right was listed as a "1950 miniature mohel knife from a well-known factory in Israel."  The original silver plating has worn off the handle.  The handle has a manufacturer's mark.  The blade is marked "stainless."









CircCentral H. Pape circumcision knifeTo the left is a circa 1890 circumcision knife.  Its handle is mother-of-pearl.  The knife is marked on the handle:  H. PAPE/*ACHFL.  It has a fitted case. 

Addendum:  A kind person wrote to me about her shochet (butcher) knife marked with the same inscription.  A little  research revealed that this knife is from H. Pape Nachfl., a company that was located in Memel, East Prussia (now Klaipeda, Lithuania
). 


Below is a circumcision knife marked G. Grunewald, another late 1800s model. 
Circumcision knife by G. Grunewald

G. Grunewald surgical supply
                advertisementI found the ad to the right in a 1914 phone directory.  G. Grunewald was a surgical supply company in Königsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia)

Grunewald knife CircCentral
                collectionTo the right is a knife marked simply Grunewald, likely from the late 1800s.  It has a steel blade and an ivory handle.  It is unclear if G. Grunewald and Grunewald are the same company.





Underneath and to the left are two similar knives from other collections.   The first is another knife from Grunewald and shows the knife blade prior to repeated use and sharpening.  This knife is pictured on the Phisick website.  Phisick is a wonderful collection of medical antiques.   The second knife is from J. & D. Miller in New York.

Grunewald knife Phisick collectionJ & D Miller knife


The 1920s sign below is at the National Museum of American History (Smithsonian, Washington, DC).  Joseph and David Miller displayed the sign in their knife shop at 25 Canal Street, New York City.  The circumcision knife and shield are at the top left.  The other knives are for poultry and cattle slaughter.
Miller
                knife sign


Here's a lesson:  because the knife below resembles a circumcision knife, a Swedish antiques dealer contacted me.
Swedish
                paper knifeSwedish paper
                knife
Intrigued, I purchased the knife from him.  Once I received the knife, I noticed a few things that seemed out of place--the embossing on the blade and the rounded corners of the blade where it meets the handle.  These are not typical of circumcision knives. 

I posted a photo on a knife discussion forum and quickly received an answer from knife expert Bernard Levine.

This is a Swedish paper knife, used in the 1800s and early 1900s to fold letters and cut open the pages of new books.  It is a substantial knife, 7-3/4 inches long, with a nice ivory handle.  The embossing, worn with age, is a nice, intricate design.

I'll sell it if someone is interested.  Please contact me at
CircCentral at yahoo dot com

The mohel uses a circumcision shield (Hebrew: מָגֵן magen) to assist in removing the foreskin.  Click the button below to see some examples of circumcision shields.

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Copyright 2006-2017, Robert Lehrer, MD