BLOODLETTING ANTIQUES:

SCARIFICATORS & CUPS

 

Alex Peck Medical Antiques

a.peck@mchsi.com

All pictures and text on this site are copyrighted 1982-2017 Alex Peck.  All rights reserve.

 

  

 Bloodletting remained a popular medical remedy for all sorts of ailments during the nineteenth century.  Here are three multi-bladed mechanical scarificators and examples of bloodletting cups that were used with the scarificators.  When wet cupping, the skin surface would be cut with a scarificator and cups would be applied.  A vacuum would be created within the cup by exhausting the air, either by a flame or by a pump, and with a tight seal formed against the skin, the blood would be drawn into the cup.

Dry cupping used the same idea for creating a vacuum within a cup, but a scarificator was not used and the skin was not broken, so no blood actually flowed into the cups.

The square-shaped scarificators to the left and center are typical of early nineteenth examples from Austria and Germany.  The octagonal-shaped scarificator to the right is typical of ones from America and England.  Two of the scarificators have their original pressed-leather cases.

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