Barber-surgeon's sign, English, 1680-1830.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Painted wooden sign illustrated with a bloodletting scene, which was probably designed to be hung outside a barber-surgeon's shop. After a plague outbreak during the early 1500s, the depleted but highly respected Guild of Surgeons was forced to merge with the Guild of Barbers, forming the Guild of Barber-Surgeons, which was disbanded again in 1745. Barber-surgeons were responsible for surgical procedures including amputations and bloodletting.