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Pewter bleeding bowl, Europe, 1701-1900

This bowl was made to be using during bloodletting – a practice once carried out to treat a wide range of diseases and medical conditions. The scale engraved on the inside of the bleeding bowl was used to record how much blood was taken. Physicians and barber-surgeons performed bloodletting as a treatment for illnesses believed to be caused by an excessive build up of blood.

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Glossary: bleeding bowl

A shallow bowl four to six inches in diameter, with one flat handle which is usually flush with the rim. Used by barber-surgeons in the 1600s and 1700s when bleeding a patient.