According to a report on BBC news last week, a Welsh company is now the leading producer of medicinal leeches. The company, based near Swansea, produces over 60,000 leeches for use in hospitals around Britain which, although it pales into insignificance next to the 40 million or so farmed in the 19th century, still represents … Continue reading Bloodletting in Medicine: The return of the Leech
Over the past few years, I have spent much time looking at ‘polite’ advertising in the 18th century. During this period, a whole range of retailers advertised their goods and services to appeal to ladies and gentlemen of taste. Without discussing anything so base as price or money, they instead tried to coax, cajole and … Continue reading Barbers and (the lack of!) Polite Advertising
“It is the business of the barber to cut and dress hair, to make wigs and false curls, and to shave the beards of other men. In ancient times he used, also, to trim the nails; and even in the present day, in Turkey, this is a part of his employment”. So wrote the author … Continue reading Barbers and Shaving in the Eighteenth Century
Over the past few years, I have spent a lot of time looking at polite advertising in the 18th century. During that period, a whole range of retailers advertised their goods and services to appeal to ladies and gentlemen of taste. Without discussing anything so base as price or money, they instead gently coaxed, cajoled … Continue reading Barbers and Advertising in the 18th century.
In the early modern period, shaving was one of the principal tasks of the barber. But, it’s actually very difficult to find out even very basic questions like how often did men shave, and how much were they charged. This posts looks at the sources to see what can be discovered about the experience of the early modern shave.
(Anon, ‘Quacksalber’ – image from Wikimedia Commons) Even as late as the 1970s it was largely assumed that people in rural England and Wales had little contact with medical practitioners or medicines for sale. As such, they were portrayed as being reliant upon ‘irregular’ practitioners such as charmers and cunning folk, and forced to make … Continue reading Nendick’s Pill: Selling Medicine in Rural Britain
In 1457 Dublin’s city council issued an ordinance that ‘men with bardys [beards] above the mowth’, as well as Irishmen and their horses and horsemen, should not be lodged within the city walls. St Audoens and Dublin’s City Wall [https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASt._Audoen’s_Church_Over_Dublin_City_Wall_and_Gate.JPG By Eric Fischer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons] Men with moustaches … Continue reading Can’t Stay Moustache: Bans on Facial Hair in Medieval Ireland
Last week, for the first time in my life, I was the lucky recipient of a wet shave with a cut throat razor. As part of my duties as a BBC/AHRC ‘New Generation Thinker’ I was making a short film about shaving in Georgian Britain, the conclusion of which sees me having my beard shorn … Continue reading Zounds how you scrape! Being shaved in Georgian Britain.
This is a transcript of the paper I gave at the BBC ‘Free Thinking’ Festival in Sage Gateshead, November 2014. Enjoy! Something beardy this way comes! Love them or loathe them it seems that beards are everywhere at the moment. Walk down your local high street and before you’ve gone too far it’s a fair … Continue reading Beards, Whiskers and the History of Pogonotomy – BBC Free Thinking Transcript
Whilst I strongly advocate not poking fun at the medical beliefs and practices of our ancestors, now and again it does no harm to remind ourselves of just how…unusual they could sometimes appear. And so I give you my top ten early modern recipes! 10) An excellent good medisian for an Eye that is bruised … Continue reading 10 Seventeenth-century remedies you’d probably want to avoid!