A Glasgow barber surgeon's bleeding bowl. The shape cut out of the bowl fitted the flexed elbow of a patient. The vein was lanced and the blood ran into the bowl.
Barber surgeons were common throughout Britain from the Middle Ages until Victorian times. The barbers' skill in using small sharp knives was suited to minor operations such as bleeding or the removal of absesses. Despite their lack of training in medical science they were popular due to their relatively low fees.
Barbers were admitted to the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow in 1602 but restricted to the treatment of simple wounds and conditions. They were removed from the Faculty in 1722.
Reference: RCPSG 1/12/7/20
Reproduced with the permission of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow