Barber-Surgeons

Have you ever wondered about the origin of some symbols? How about the infamous barber pole? Are you familiar with the role of the barber-surgeon? If you write historical fiction spanning the 13th through the 18th century, you may want to familiarize yourself with their function.



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The practice of medicine was separated from the practice of surgery. Medical practice was generally carried out by those who went through a university program whereas surgery was considered more of a trade.

The characteristic red and white barber pole with the brass bowl symbolized the basin used to collect the blood during blood-letting and the red and white stripes represented the blood and dressings. This represented members of the Barber-Surgeon Guild until 1745.

To learn more about barber-surgeons, check out these references:

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barber_surgeon

2. http://unusualhistoricals.blogspot.com/2009/01/professions-barber-surgeon.html

3. http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/people/barbersurgeons.aspx

4. http://www.barberpole.com/artof.htm

Would you have been comfortable going to a barber-surgeon?

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