Tag Archives: barber-surgeons

Blood and bandages

Patricia A. Unsworth Bolton, England, United Kingdom   Photograph by the author. The notorious Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, is possibly the first thought that comes to mind at the mention of barber surgeons, but how far from reality was this character of Victorian fiction? Perhaps not so far removed as one […]

Bloody beginnings of hematology

Sherin Jose Chockattu Bengaluru, India Bloodletting in 1860 – one of only three known photographs of the procedure. This photo is from the Burns Archive collection. Source His pole, with pewter basins hung, Black, rotten teeth in order strung, Rang’d cups that in the window stood, Lin’d with red rags, to look like blood, Did […]

The barber-surgeons: their history over the centuries

Anusha Pillay Raipur, India Bloodletting from the arm. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY “His pole, with pewter basins hung, Black, rotten teeth in order strung, Rang’d cups that in the window stood, Lin’d with red rags, to look like blood, Did well his threefold trade explain, Who shav’d, drew teeth, and breath’d a vein.” -The Goat […]

Monkeys as barber-surgeons

Monkeys play a great role in the work of Coryn (Quirjin) Boel the Younger (1620-1668), engraver of Brussels and Antwerp. Specialized in making engravings of old masters, especially those of David Teniers, he often shows monkeys playing backgammon, giving concerts, or enjoying sophisticated breakfasts. At a time when most of healthcare in Europe was provided […]

Dentistry by candlelight

Thanks to modern anesthesia a visit to the dentist is now a pretty painless affair. This was not the case until relatively recently, and certainly not so in the seventeenth century, when dental services were often rendered by itinerant barber-surgeons. In the painting by Leiden artist Gerrit Dou, the tooth puller is extracting a tooth […]

It is good to be the king: the French surgical revolution

Julius Bonello S. Ayesha Hasan Peoria, Illinois, United States   Charles-François Tassy, Source: Wiki A belief held by the common people is that it is good to be royalty, a sentiment supported by descriptions in novels and depictions in movies. The best food, the finest clothes, and the most extravagant and opulent dwelling in the […]

Nicholas Culpeper and Herbal Medicine

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig. 1 Nicholas Culpeper Apart from crude measures such as amputation and surgery without anesthesia, most medical treatments were ineffective until the twentieth century. Herbal remedies dominated from the time of ancient Hindu and Chinese cultures. Herbals were used by the Greek scholar Theophrastus (371 – 287 BC) and by […]

Tooth extraction in art: from the dental key to the forceps

Vicent Rodilla Alicia López-Castellano Christina Ribes-Vallés Valencia, Spain   Figure 1. A surgeon concealing the Dental key from the patient by Luciano Nezzo (1856-1903). Wellcome Collection. CC Tooth extraction has been practiced for centuries, being carried out first by often itinerant barber-surgeons, and, once the profession became regulated in the late 1800s, by licenced dentists. […]

Apothecaries vs. physicians

Two paintings of pharmacies are shown here: a Medical practitioner taking a lady’s pulse in a pharmacy (Wellcome Library) by Emili Casals I Camps (1882) and The Apothecary by Pietro Longhi, from the Accademia in Venice (1752). The man taking the woman’s pulse in the Casals painting is probably a physician, and the one looking […]