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Instrument case, England, 1650-1700

Covered with shagreen (stained fish skin) and decorated with engraved silver, this instrument case bears the coat of arms of Barber-Surgeons' Company. The Barber-Surgeons’ Company was formed in 1540 and the coat of arms was granted by Queen Elizabeth I in 1569. It shows the cross of St George with a lion with three fleams, which were tools used in bloodletting. The initials of the owner, “F Z”, are also on the case.

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Glossary: instrument case

A case of any kind used to hold and/or protect instruments.

Glossary: fleam

A sharp instrument used for opening veins, lancing gums etc.

Glossary: guild

No description.

Glossary: bloodletting

Puncturing a vein in order to withdraw blood. A popular medical practice for over two thousand years. Bloodletting often involved withdrawing large quantities of blood in the belief that this would cure or prevent many illnesses and diseases. The practice has been abandoned for all but a few very specific conditions.