The “present mechanical perfection” mentioned in the letter is, of course, still evolving. Wouldn't he be delighted with what's available today?
Surgeon General’s Office,
U.S. Army Medical Museum and Library,
Corner 7th and B Streets S.W.,
Washington, February 25, 1899
I am anxious to secure for the Museum examples of artificial limbs-upper and lower extremity- which collectively will show the progress of this art, from its rude beginnings to its present mechanical perfection. It is desired especially to make this illustration historically complete, so that your assistance is requested, not only as to existing finished apparatus of your own device and manufacture, but as to the existence and supply of older devices which would naturally form part of an illustrative collection. Where information is contained in catalogues those will be sufficient; but reference is solicited to sources from which the older specimens may be obtained, with a brief description of the apparatus- and prices.
Col. & Asst. Surgeon General, U.S.A.
In charge of Museum & Library Division