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Bullet Drawers - Jacques Gillimeau

Mission's Bullet Extraction Equipment
(Photo: Mission's Collection)
There's nothing quite like the crude instruments of the Golden Age of Piracy! (Something for which you should be most grateful.) This page features an assortment of bullet drawing instruments as featured in the English translation of Jacques Guillimeau's The French Chirurgerie, printed in London in 1683.

While the book is not paginated, this information is from the section "The Thesaurarye, or Storehouse of Chyrurgereye," on the 6th page of that section. The spelling and grammar have been preserved, although I have inserted some material in square brackets to make it more meaningful to modern audiences. I have inserted lettering into the diagrams because the original letters were often not easily read. I have also moved the original images around so that they work well with the display area on this web page, although I have not altered the actual images in any way other than adding the red lettering that appears on the instruments, as mentioned.

Comments on Jacques Guillimeau's Bullet Extraction Instruments

Of particular interest in the first group below are a number of items that Guillimeau shows that were extracted from wounds. The chain bullet in particular is a curious item. Also interesting are his comments on the bullet drawer (items L - P), where he claims, "vvhervvith he [the screw on the end] is boarede into the bullette, vvithout any great violence or force." I would think it would take a rather significant amount of force to burrow into the bullet, although it may also be that the modern lead bullet castings may be harder today than they were in the 16th c. Still, even he says in commenting on the assembled piece under O that, "We use this Instrumente, vvhen the bullet is fastened in any bone, & vvhé[n] the same vvith violence must be dravven therout..." One last point and I'll let you read it in peace. Guillimeau claims that item K (the sounding iron) can also be used as a seton. If the sounding iron is to scale with the bullet (I) in the same figure, then the hole made in the skin to pass the knobbed ends of the iron through the skin must have been quite large!


Jacques Guillimeau's Bullet Extraction Instruments A - G

Instruments A through G
Guillimeau, page 7
"Declaration of the Characters contaynede in the Table of Instrumente, wher with we extracte, and drawe out the Bulletes, and all other unnaturalle, and alienate thinges, forth of the bodye

A, Demonstratethe such an Instrumente, vvhich consideringe the figure, & similitude, is in Latinne called Rostrum Lacerti: it is very necessary, to extracte, a bullet out of the body, vvhen they lye therein plettered, or els to dravve out of the vvound an smalle peeces of bones. The foresayed A, noteth only unto us the Pipe thereof.

B, The vice, or meanes, vverby this foresayed Instrumente, is opened, & shutte agayne, as much, and as little as pleaseth the Chyrurgiane.

C, The little Iron rodde, vvhich openeth, & shutteth the foresayed Efts bille: for vve dravvinge the same towards us, it shutteth, and thrusting the same fró[m] us, it openeth.

D, D, The Dilatorye, behoulder, or Enlarger, in Latine Dilatorium or Speculum: This instrumente is internally concavouse, & dentified, or toothede, to retayne, & hould that fast vvhich shal be ther betvveene: it may be used for tvvo purposes: first of all to dilate, & enlarge the vvounde, vvhether it be ether to vue the botome therof, or els to bring any other Instrumente therin, vvhervvith vve vvoulde dravve anye thinge out of a vvounde: secondlye it is also of it selfe commodiouse to dravve any alienate thinge out of a vvounde.

a, The chayned bullete.

b, A little Chayne.

c, c, Certayne parcels of Mayle dubbletes.

E, E, The Cranes bille, In Latine, Rostrum Gruinum.

F, The springe to Keepe open the same, leaste that the Chyrurgian might be hindered in the opening therof: & because he shoulde allvvayes be preparede to shutte the same, as soone as vve perceive any thing to be betvveene the same.

G, The Bullete vvhich must be dravvne out.

Jacques Guillimeau's Bullet Extraction Instruments H - K

Instruments H - K
Guillimeau, page 7

H, H, The Ganders bille, In Latine, Rostrum anseriunú[m]: It is also called Rostrum latun, the broade bille: the extremitye, & end therof, is also dentified & toothede, because he shoulde the surer, retayne the Bullet.

I, The bullete vvhich is betvvene the teeth.

K, The soundinge Iron, or Esprovette: vvhich may be usede also for a Needle to make a Seton: & is verye conveniente to sound, & search for bulletes, and all other alienate thinges in a vvounde: as also vve may make thervvith any Seton, the same beinge needefulle: some ther are vvhich at made of tvvo peeces, becaus it should so be more portable. This foresayed searching Iron is called in Latine, Astilla té[n]toria, Radiolus, Explorator: & in G, it is called Mele:, Galen calleth it Thaumatiche, Mele, and Hippocrates, Ischyri.

Jacques Guillimeau's Bullet Extraction Instruments L - P

Instruments L - N
Guillimeau, page 7
L, The Bulletdravver or Grounde dravver, vvithout his canulle this Grounde dravver is verye acute on his end, becaus the bullet might sticke fast thereone: it is called in Latine, Terebellum simplex.

e, The vise, vvhervvith he is boarede into the bullette, vvithout any great violence or force.

M, The Pipe, or Canulle, vvith the há[n]defastening therof. In Latine Canula simplex. 

N, The há[n]dle throught the vvhich vve thrust the Groű[n]dedravver.

Instruments O - P
Guillimeau, page 7

O, The Bullet dravver, vvith his canulle, on vvhose end the bullet is fastened, to be dravvne out. We use this Instrumente, vvhen the bullet is fastened in any bone, & vvhé[n] the same vvith violence must be dravven therout: & is in Latine called Terebuellum torculatum cum Canula.

d, The vise, vvhich entereth into her case, notede with ∏.

∏, The vise vvhich is internallye occulted.

Jacques Guillimeau's Bullet Extraction Instruments Q - X

Instruments Q - X
Guillimeau, page 7
Q, An other Bullet dravver, the end wherof is noted with R, vvhich causeth it to be so called, the bullet dravver with the ring, or vvith the spoone, must be hoaled, to give place unto the bullet: and the other end, is recurved, & broad, & also somvvhat concavouse, vvith smalle teeth, to retain, & hould the faster all alienate thinges, vvich vve intend to dravv out, vvithout escaping therout.

R, The bullet dravver with ring, or vvith the perforated spoon: this bullet dravver is very convenié[n]t, & necessary, becaus the bullet is the one halfe therin included, & is also by that meanes held stedfastly faste, vvithout sterring therout: And is called in Latine, Globulitraha annulate, or Cocleare.

S, The Croockede bullet dravvwer, in L, Globulitraha connexum: This bullet dravver is also very necessary, becaus he is dé[n]tified, becaus the bullet being therin, it should not glibber therout, but may be therin retayned.

T, An other bullet dravver, vvhich through one of his endes, as through the superioure noted vvith V, he is also hoock if he, & recurvated: & at the other end noted with X, he is like unto a hoock, vvhich is acute, & sharpe, notvvithstá[n]ding in such sorte, that in noe vvyse they may vvound, vvhether it vvear Synnue, Vayne, or Artery in the dravving out of any thinge: these extremityes, or endes may serve to dravve any Linné[n] out of a vvounde or any such like thing, as Cotton, Woole, or anye Mayles, vvhich mighte remayne faste stickinge in the Wounde.

V, it is a recurved, & crooked bullet dravver, called in L. Hamulus recinus, Larus, Obtusus.

X, The bullet dravvver vvith tvvo crochetes, or hoockes, called in L, Hamulus bifidus obtusus: And are called in G, Uncinos, & of the Latinistes, Uncus: and in French Croc, or Crochet, or Hams crochus, a Hoocke.

There is noe Chyrurgiane, vvhich hath anye bullet dravver of his fashone, or manner vverevvith he contentethe himselfe: but I have here placed, & collocatede, those vvhich are fitteste for use, omittinge, and lettinge passé manye other fashons, to prevente, and evite all confusions vvhatsoever." (Jaques Guillemeau, The French Chirurgerie, Translated out of Dutch into English by A.M., "The Thesaurarye, or Storehouse of Chyrurgereye," p. 6)